Friday, November 28, 2014

Giving Thanks!

I got out of bed on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day morning, when I heard people stirring (I was reading).

I got a cup of coffee and we all eased into the day.

We discussed dinner times and eventually began to cook! First thing was a bone-in, skin-on turkey breast, that had been sitting in the fridge overnight. I had smeared it the night before with a simple wet rub Carla made from olive oil, minced garlic and chopped rosemary, sage and thyme. Carla added a little of her homemade turkey stock to the pan, just so the bottom wouldn’t burn. That went into the oven to bake, first at 400 degrees (to crisp the skin) and then 350 to cook.

Note: that was NOT going to be part of the Thanksgiving dinner, I should add. This is only for turkey sandwiches, later on.  Jake and Carla were busy with other things, so I checked and pulled it when the internal temperature reached 165. I set it aside to cool.

Dinner today was designed to be a riff on the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal. It will consist of a Turkey burger, cranberry ketchup and Napa cabbage slaw on a French bun with hand-cut shoestring fries and turkey gravy dipping sauce. Dessert will be a pumpkin-buttermilk pie with homemade whipped cream.

Anyway, then we got down to it! As I said, most of the prep had been done the day before. So, I cleaned and quartered exactly three ounces of button mushrooms that Jake pulsed in the food processor.

I cut up sage and stripped thyme leaves as Carla added chicken stock to unflavored gelatin.

Sidebar: I cannot give you exact measurements here, as I was too busy to pay attention. But it’s an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, if you want to look it up.

Meanwhile, Jake pulsed frozen chunks of turkey thighs. They had taken off the skin and deboned it yesterday, then frozen them. When they reached the consistence of ground turkey, Jake removed 1/3 cup of the meat. That was mixed with the chicken stock and now-gelled gelatin. The herbs were mixed in olive oil and everything except the mushrooms were pulsed a few times more. Jake then took the mixture and incorporated the mushrooms by hand. He formed that into three big patties that went into the fridge to harden.

Sidebar: Now one might ask (I did) why not just go buy a pound of ground turkey? According to America’s Test Kitchen (and as one who ate a lot of ground turkey back in the day, I can attest to) , ground turkey fried is much drier than ground beef. So, to mimic the texture and juiciness of a beef burger, both the mushrooms and the gelatin mix helps retain the water.

Carla and I made turkey gravy from her homemade turkey stock, some A/P flour and salt and pepper. We all had to taste-test as Jake and I both prefer a lot of pepper, while Carla and I prefer more salt. But we finally struck a happy medium.

While they were hardening in the fridge, Jake heated up canola oil in the Dutch oven. I drained the shoestring potatoes that Jake cut yesterday on the mandolin and stored in water and then dried them as best I could between two kitchen towels.

Meanwhile, Carla, who had sliced the Napa cabbage yesterday, salted it and let it drain overnight, made the coleslaw dressing. She deliberately did not add vinegar to it, since the cranberry ketchup is quite acidic on its own.

Note, they had made the cranberry ketchup before I arrived. It consisted of fresh cranberries, allspice, Worchester sauce, soy sauce, pepper and brown sugar. That was put into the food processor and then strained.

Jake and I began frying the French fries as Carla fried the turkey burgers. We had a lot of potatoes, so it took quite a few batches.

Jake toasted the French bread buns and Carla began to plate. The gravy went into little metal ramekins. The sandwich was the bottom bun, cranberry ketchup, the turkey burger, the slaw and the top bun.

Dinner was paired with a very nice Sauvignon Blanc.

Everything was fantastic! The turkey burger was tart from the ketchup and crunchy from the coleslaw and seriously excellent. And, the shoestring French fries, dipped in turkey gravy? Oh my God!!!

We were all stuffed, so dessert had to wait. But, of course, eventually we rallied. Carla whipped some whipping cream and Jake plated the pie with a dab on each piece. They made the pie before I came as well, so I can’t tell you ingredients. But I know it was pumpkin pie made with buttermilk. The buttermilk added a tang, and somehow made it a lot less “filling” than a regular pumpkin pie. Perfect.

We watched three Netflix movies: The Sightseers (an unusual British film), Nebraska (with Bruce Dern and great – I heartily recommend this one) and Vhs2 (too scary for me).

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, we made turkey sandwiches and ate them with pickles and chips. The turkey was nicely seasoned and very moist. Outstanding!

I gave up on the scary movie and went to bed around 9:30 p.m. I read for a little bit and then it was lights out.


  1. - Jake heated up canola oil
    - Jake pulsed frozen chunks of turkey thighs
    - Jake toasted the French bread buns
    - And on and on and on

    See? Told ya he wouldn’t neglect Carla. Looks like a five-star meal. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  2. Thank you. Not that I would ever neglect Carla but she did quite a bit of cooking prior and during. I was simply sous-ing - washing Picasso's brushes. Getting some of that sweet, sweet turpentine. mmm...

  3. I never heard of cranberry catsup.....hummmmmmm

    Love to Jake and Carla....! have a safe flight on Sunday

  4. Carry on, Dr. Sous. Carry on.

  5. @ Jake: "Sweet turpentine"? Oh dear God!
    @ GPF: Neither had I but it was delicious!
    @ Jyl: Cute!