Thanksgiving kicked off when my dad pulled up to the house last Tuesday afternoon, fresh from a quail hunt in Tennessee. My stepmom Susanna flew in a few hours later from Sheridan, Wyoming, their now home.
My house and kitchen were immediately improved. Dad sharpened my knives and starting halving and marinating quail in buttermilk and hot sauce. Susanna started washing dishes, straightening the house, and running loads of laundry. I felt a huge weight lift from my over-scheduled shoulders that can only come from guests who don't ask what needs to be done, but just find things and jump in. Usually those guests are family members, but not always.
Whoever the hell they are, they are always welcome in my home.
Sasha came by for dinner Wednesday night, just home from her freshman year at Wellesley. It was so good to see her! While we all chatted, Dad fried the quail: After their buttermilk soak, he dredged them in flour (gluten-free AP for me, which worked like a charm), let them rest on a rack for 15 minutes or so, then fried them in a couple of inches of hot oil.
My god. Tender-crispy-sublime. We devoured them.
Later that night David, Etta, and my cousin Craig arrived in various shifts from NYC and DC. I had big plans to stay awake to feed them late dinners. I even went for an almost-midnight walk, giddy in the balmy air, but upon return...I totally fell asleep.
Which was probably for the best, given my early-Thursday-morning playdate with butter and herbs and the big ol' turkey that I had brined overnight Tuesday, then let dry out in the fridge overnight Wednesday. That one-two punch always yields ridiculously crispy skin, lightly salty, perfectly buttery. I hit it pretty hard while Dad carved the bird.
In fact, if I could eat just crispy turkey skin and a pile of stuffing and call it Thanksgiving dinner I'd be so happy.
Which is why I am in fact I am happy, because that's exactly what I did.
OK, I - as well as my uncles Bruce and Jim, aunts Mary and Marge, cousin Craig, brother David, sisters Stacey and Etta, John, Mom, Dad, and Susanna - also inhaled these amazing Melissa Clark sour cream mashed potatoes, prepared by Stacey & Susanna. They have earned a do-ahead spot on my Thanksgiving table, for sure. The chives are a particularly lovely addition, as is Parmesan cheese on top. We skipped the called-for breadcrumbs and didn't miss them.
My aunt Mary brought green beans - no, not those green beans. Her version was fresh and simple - fresh beans tossed in an anchovy vinaigrette. Delicious.
I was thrilled with the way the (gluten-free) cornbread stuffing turned out. I added both spicy and sweet sausage, mushrooms, plenty of fresh sage, and Parmesan cheese. We've been frying the leftovers for the last few days, to top with poached eggs... Goodness do that.
My stepmom Susanna was the first to bring this gorgeous wild rice salad to the Thanksgiving table, sometime in the mid-90s, and one of us makes it every year, this year my aunt Mary. The citrus dressing is a welcome sweet-tangy palate cleanser in the midst of lots of buttery sausagey richness.
My mom made a cranberry-orange sauce and The Curry Diva herself, lovely Heather Jansz, gifted me a jar of her precious chutney. Both were stunning with the turkey, at the dinner table and on many sandwiches afterward.
I got too busy eating, talking, and drinking wine to snap a pic of my aunt Marge's perfect pumpkin chiffon and pecan pies! No! Needless to say, they were attacked as usual. Gone baby gone. She is a master.
I made this Michael Ruhlman oven stock from the carcass. It's the best stock I've made and so easy! With the stock, turkey, and leftover mashed potatoes I made a shepherd's pie, which we dug into last night. And turkey wild rice soup and latkes, which we ate Saturday night. And I'll be making this Mark Bittman turkey & spinach coconut curry for tomorrow. (I'm taking a break from turkey today...I need a little breathing space. Uff.)
Mom's cranberry sauce has appeared in three batches of muffins, one of which I brought with me to AM950 on Saturday morning, when I was on the Fresh & Local Show with Mike Madison of Unknown Prophets. We talked leftovers for an hour with host Susan Berkson and barely scratched the surface! The whole conversatoin left me starving so I came home and made myself a big batch of turkey nachos. I do so love turkey with chiles.
What fun have you been having with leftovers? I hope you all had a terrific holiday!