I don’t care how many years I live in Greece, I will never stop celebrating Thanksgiving. I have a great family of fellow ex-pat cousins and friends who keep this tradition alive with me. And what tradition is this? To eat our weight in turkey and stuffing by the end of the day, of course.
Now this is a group effort, and I really have to take off my “foodie” hat for this meal. After I was told that everyone preferred canned pumpkin rather than fresh pumpkin for the pies…well, I got the hint. 🙂
But don’t get me wrong! The traditional meal does remind me of home and youth and warmth. It’s so much fun to cook with the girls all day, drink wine, and munch secretly before dinner!
Here is the menu we’ve planned:
- Skillet Cornbread with Homemade Apricot Butter
- Brined Turkey
- Ciabatta, Chestnut, and Pancetta Stuffing
- Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
- Toasted Corn Pudding
- Maple Glazed Carrots
- Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
- Pecan Pies
- Pumpkin Pies
- Chocolate Truffle Tart
- and…oh, yeah…a salad. 🙂 Spinach Salad with Bacon and Apple Cider Vinaigrette.
I’m thinking of bringing an avocado carrot salad and some poached pears stuffed with cinnamon raisin mascarpone as a treat to us cooks before the feast. I know we should probably save our appetites for dinner, but everyone’s coming over at 8! We can’t starve all day!
Our host Peggy is welcoming 13 people and four of us are cooking. We’re preparing portions of 16, but we are pigs and it probably won’t even be enough… While making a holy mess of the kitchen, Peggy runs around frantically cleaning up after us while we’re chopping and stirring and baking and gossiping. As long as I don’t get red wine stains on my dress, I feel clean. (I can just see my mom shaking her head in shame, calling me a “louie!”-the Greek word for dirty neck…
We make desserts the night before to spend all day on the savory dishes. No matter how many times I’ve cooked Turkey, I used to feel at a loss for the timing. A meat thermometer has been my salvation. Its best to take out of the oven a few degrees before “cooked” because it continues cooking out of the oven, and you don’t want it to dry out. I also highly recommend brining for an extra juicy bird.
When it comes to gravy- use the giblets inside the turkey cavity to make the stock! This makes the flavor incredible. And a basic butter-flour roux to thicken is easy and effective. Use truffle butter if you want to do something extra wow.
I’m making the chocolate tart. I decided I would decorate the top by sprinkling orange sugar in the shape of a maple leaf, and powdered sugar around its outline. I use a printed stencil, they are easy to find online. I might also add bourbon flavor to the chocolate batter for a more thanksgiving-y bent to this chocolate dessert.
I’m also going to make a centerpiece, but I haven’t decided what exactly…I might use a hollowed pumpkin as a vase for flowers. Is that cheesy? I haven’t decided yet. Hmmm. Yeah that’s tacky. I’ll figure something out.
We celebrate on Saturday this year due to schedules, and I’ll post the pictures and how everything turned out on Sunday!