November 18, 2010

Everyones mind is on Turkey Day

I love the whole concept of Thanksgiving. From the process of selecting the menu, the shopping lists and the actually cooking. A full Turkey dinner is actually quite healthy as long as you eat lots of vegetable sides and sweet potatoes instead of stuffing, mashies and biscuits.

If you make a cornbread stuffing with lots of vegetables (carrots, onions, leeks, garlic and mushrooms) and even sausage, you can have 1 scoop of stuffing.


I know everyone has their family favorites that, let's face it, would not be Thanksgiving without them on the table.

My family is dwindling, I am down to 1 parent and no in laws. This may be our last get together with The Nudge's siblings, already they are talking about traveling for Christmas.
It's OK.

Time for another cruise. Never been on a Christmas cruise. I bet the boat is decorated to the hilt. But that is another post.....

This year I actually get to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for my Dad. Might be a day or two before Thursday but I have never cooked a Turkey Day menu for him.

Yesterday, armed with my list, I went food shopping.

Criteria was....a meal that would fit in 2 green bags, half-cooked and transported to his house with the least amount of fuss. I know my Dad's pantry is maybe 1 shelf in the closet. Nothing goes that will not either be eaten or thrown away, applying to the baking and serving pans. I do not want to cart things down and then have to bring them back. I also do not want to spend my evening cleaning up & I certainly do not want him to do it.


This was my shopping list....:
1 FREE turkey breast, maybe 4-5 pounds
1 bag of cornmeal stuffing cubes
1 Bib Evans sausage roll
1 quart container of good quality chicken stock
1 head of red cabbage
1 small bag of Brussels sprouts and cauliflower florets (use a salad bar for the cauliflower)
2 large white onions
1 small package of carrots
3 huge sweet potatoes
6 small Yukon gold potatoes
1 package of Knorr turkey gravy mix
1 pint of milk
1 pint of heavy cream
Platter of Italian cookies for dessert
1 pound unsalted butter
1/2 pound green beans
3 bottles of red wine

This is the menu.......:
Roasted Turkey Breast with Cornbread Sausage Stuffing
Mashed and Sweet Potatoes (made ahead)
Green Beans (made ahead)
Roasted Brussel Sprouts (made ahead)
Cauliflower (will nuke steam them)
Braised Red Cabbage (made ahead)
Steamed Broccolini
Gravy
Biscuits
Coffee and Italian Cookies (and yes, I will go to an Italian Bakery for these)

Sorry no cranberry sauce. We just don't eat it.

What we do not eat, he will have leftovers for a few days.

This will really make him feel better after his angioplasty procedure. He should be well enough to visit with his girlfriend's family on Turkey Day if he feels up to it, but if he doesn't, he at least had a Thanksgiving meal with his daughter & The Nudge.



Recipe #1: This is adapted from The Frugal Gourmet
One of the only recipes for red cabbage that did not have either onion or apples in..I love it for that reason. Once my family tried it, it was the new GO TO for Turkey Day.


English Boiled Red Cabbage
serves 6-8
* 3 small head red cabbage or 1 huge head
* 2 cups Chicken Stock
* 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
* 2 bay leaves
* 1/2 cup brown sugar (or Splenda Blend)
* 1/2 stick (1/8 pound) butter
* Salt & Pepper to taste

Quarter, core and slice cabbage into 1/4" slices. Place everything in a 5 quart saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. I leave the lid off and simmer longer until the sauce is thickened.



Recipe #2: This is adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
Family approved, easy to make. The sprouts caramelize with the shallots and the vinegar at the end plays off the sweetness and cuts through the bacon fat. You could not get easier then this.


Caramelized Brussel Sprouts with Shallots and Thyme
serves 4-6
* 1/2 pound fresh brussel sprouts
* 2 slices apple wood smoked bacon, diced
* 1 large shallot or 2 small, sliced
* 1/4 cup water or chicken stock, if you have
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 1 tablespoon both olive oil & unsalted butter
* 1 large spring fresh thyme
* Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large fry pan, bring water or stock to a boil. Add chopped bacon, sprouts and shallots; Cover, and simmer 4 minutes.
Remove cover and continue to simmer until water has evaporated and bacon is starting to crisp.
Add thyme sprig, olive oil and butter. Saute until everything caramelizes. Shut off heat and add vinegar. The residual heat from the pan will reduce the vinegar to a glaze and turn it sweet. Remove the thyme, taste for seasonings and serve.



Recipe #2: This is adapted from America's Test Kitchen
These are by far the most decadent mashed potatoes you can make. Butter and heavy cream, roasted garlic and salt & pepper. That's it, that's enough. What makes these even more light and creamy is that the potatoes are steamed, then put through a ricer.
If you ever make mashed potatoes again, you have to try these. I do not like buttermilk or sour cream in them, I am not a fan of that tang, not in my potatoes, but feel free to add it if you want.


Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic
serves 8-10
* 5 pound bag of Idaho Potatoes
* 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, more if needed
* 4 garlic cloves, peeled
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
* Salt & Pepper to taste

Peel and cut potatoes into 1" cubes. In a large stockpot with a steamer insert, steam potatoes with garlic cloves for 25 minutes.
In a large bowl, pour in cream and butter. Rice potatoes, along with garlic cloves into bowl with cream& butter in it.
Stir to incorporate and season with salt & pepper. Remember, potatoes can take more salt then you think it needs. Taste after each addition. If you are storing these for later use (like I am) you will need to add more cream (or milk) and butter to them right before serving.

All I have left to do before Monday is the sweet potatoes (I have already baked them in their skins but haven't figured out which way I want to serve them yet) and the cauliflower. More then likely I will slice the sweet potatoes, lay them in a baking pan and top them with a brown sugar, maple butter drizzle.

I will brine the turkey breast on Saturday. When I get to my Dad's I will remove it from the brine, place it on a baking sheet and let it dry out in the refrigerator. This gets the skin crispy, crunchy.

1:00pm - Remove the turkey from the fridge to room temp.
1:30pm - Lay the stuffing on the baking sheet. Make compound butter and rub it under the turkey skin. Salt & pepper the outside.
2:00pm - Place the turkey over the stuffing ans into a 400F oven for 20 minutes and then lower the heat to 350F and continue baking until thermometer reads 160 degrees (I am assuming it will take about the same time as a large roaster chicken, 90 minutes).
3:30pm - Remove turkey to counter and tent with foil. Remember, the stuffing will have soaked up any pan juices so make sure you have a quart or 2 of turkey or chicken stock handy.
3:40 - Heat in a 300F oven the green beans, red cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts, and sweet potatoes along with a package of frozen biscuits. Nuke the cauliflower and mashed potatoes. Set oven to warm, add the turkey and stuffing.
3:45pm - Make the gravy and put in thermal gravy boat.

While The Nudge is picking up my Dad I will be home doing the following:
4:15pm - set the table, open the wine and carve the turkey.
4:30pm - Sit down to a lovely dinner.

If I forgot anything, I will just improvise when I get there.
This meal is not so much about the food as it is about my Dad finally letting me do something for him.

This is going to be a nice meal for my Dad. I am pretty jazzed about it.

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