Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Mini Thanksgiving

Two weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to cook my own Thanksgiving meal.  I'm delighted that I'm back at my parents' house for the holiday, but, as an aspirational nester, I'm really looking forward to the day when I can offer to host Thanksgiving for my family.  It's never too early to start practicing, I thought, and so I invited some friends over and prepared a mini festive feast.

Let me tell you, dear readers: while the supermarkets always carry turkey mince and some pieces of the bird, it is impossible to get the real thing in early November without pre-ordering it especially.  (The Brits traditionally eat turkey for Christmas dinner, so it's available in the run-up to 25 December but not so much before.)  Even though I only wanted a breast, I lacked the foresight to realize this, and so called three butcher shops before finding one.  There was success at the end (5.5lbs of it!) but this is definitely something I'll take into consideration next time to minimize stress.

The menu was relatively simple, actually, and was designed to let us linger over our wine.  We started with a mushroom and Stilton pizza (or two) that was based roughly off this recipe.  The mains were turkey breast crammed with stuffing, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, and cauliflower cheese (which is such an English dish but I was having a yearning so I included it anyway; basically, it's cauliflower cooked in a béchamel sauce).  Dessert was cheese with my new sweet staple, chocolate chip biscotti.

The one bit of this meal that made me anxious was the stuffing, which I've never made before.  I've heard so many horror stories about serving bone-dry stuffing - or worse, potentially killing your guests with undercooked stuffing...

I did a lot of research online; every celebrity chef seems to have his or her own particular recipe for stuffing (Ina, Jamie, the Neelys, etc.) but in the end I decided to make my own by following a template I found on the Food Network website.  It was a huge hit, of course!

Sausage and Sage Stuffing

Brown .5kg sausage meat (I used one that had caramelized red onions in it) in 6 tbs butter over medium heat in a heavy dutch oven.  Add two cups each diced onions and celery and 1 tbs each minced sage and thyme plus salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently to dislodge the bits on the bottom, for five minutes.  Pour in three cups chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, beat two eggs with 1/4c chopped parsley in a bowl.  Add 16 cups cubed stale bread (I crumbled 14 toasted dinner rolls for this) and let soak in the egg mixture until the broth has simmered. Mix the breadcrumbs/eggs/parsley with the broth; combine well.  Dot the top of the stuffing with pats of butter.  Cover and bake at 190*c (375*f) for 30 minutes.  Then either stuff the turkey and cook according to the turkey recipe or uncover and bake 30 more minutes until golden (I did both, as there was more stuffing than the breast could hold).

Nom, for real.  Is it bad that I might make this again even without turkey?  Because it's probably going to happen.

1 comment:

  1. Yum! My first Thanksgiving in London we got a turkey at Harrods. I won't tell you how much that cost (just thank goodness my dad paid for it!). My second year we got one from Whole Foods, where I miscalculated the price and it was also super expensive, but very yummy! It is definitely difficult to find one for Thanksgiving!


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