I’m proud to say it was a wonderful holiday. My parents are boarding their plane back to California and I’m nestled on my couch in pajamas, sipping Lemon Ginger tea with Tulip at my feet. I miss them a little. A good visit with family always makes me feel homesick after we say goodbye. I’m lucky to feel that way.
The days of preparation paid off. I think this is the first year I didn’t have to run back to the store to get a missing ingredient. The timeline for the day also proved useful. It functioned more like a checklist with a sense of how long each dish would take to prepare than an actual schedule, which was fine. Dinner was served at 4pm on the nose, with everyone pitching in the last half-hour to get us to the table as my energy started to wane.
That said it was still a ton of work! Thank goodness my mom was willing to help out so much in the kitchen. The biggest “hits” this year were the turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. This was my first year brining a turkey and I will definitely do it again. The recipe I liked called for a pretty complicated brine, but for the sake of my sanity I went with this basic one, adding a couple of bay leaves and a teaspoon of black peppercorns for some flavor. Even with a ten-pound turkey I needed to add several cups of water to cover the bird, but the brine still worked its magic!
In addition to brining, I put a thin coat of Three Herb Butter underneath the skin of the turkey to keep the breast moist. I followed our old Silver Palate trick and rubbed the outside of the turkey with lemon juice followed by olive oil, salt, and pepper. After salting and peppering the cavity, half a squeezed lemon, fresh thyme, parsley and sage went in to add some flavor. My dad trussed the turkey and we put in on a roasting rack in the oven at 325 degrees. I melted some of the remaining herb butter for basting, which was helpful because the turkey didn’t release much juice and the butter was excellent for browning. I basted the turkey every half an hour, switching to homemade chicken broth as my liquid after the first hour. I have no idea why, but the turkey was done an hour early—tender and full of the herb-butter flavor all the way through. It got to rest, loosely tented under foil, until we were ready to carve.
My mom found the recipe for this unforgettable Chanterelle Mushroom Gravy. I was nervous about the amount of flour called for, but I used cornstarch to make it gluten free and it turned out perfectly. The flavor of chanterelles was amazing! It would be perfect for turning leftovers into a turkey potpie. I just plan on pouring it over the Bread Stuffing with Fresh Herbs to keep the leftovers moist.
The Yukon Gold and Fennel Puree with Rosemary Butter was a hands-down favorite. I’m grateful I didn’t think to halve the recipe because I know we’ll be enjoying the leftovers all weekend long. I roasted the fennel and onion to make the puree two days early, which I highly recommend. You can even make the whole recipe a full day in advance.
We had enough time to take a light lunch break and enjoy the cheese board I put together. My mom and I took Tulip for a walk in the crisp winter weather before diving into the afternoon cooking. It was such a pleasure to be in the kitchen together. This was the first time in over thirty years my parents didn’t host Thanksgiving at their house. We were honored to have them here. Thank you, Mom, for the beautiful centerpiece and help in the kitchen. Thanks to Dad for trussing and carving and kicking my butt in cribbage. And thank you to Ben for inviting my parents to share Thanksgiving at our table. I have so much gratitude for you all.