Saturday, November 25, 2006

Of course I have to talk about Thanksgiving dinner

First, though, I apologize for not writing recently. (Some members of my family pointed that out yesterday.) It's not, of course, that I'm not cooking. I've just been kind of busy. Partly because I committed to do T-giving dinner for the family and I don't do much for that that isn't completely from scratch. So this entry will kind of fill you in on some of the cooking adventures over the past couple of weeks that led to the end result. Like: instead of using commercial bacon in my green beans and in the brussels sprouts, I made my own pancetta-style bacon. Cured and roasted to 150 degrees, not dried or smoked. This was my first adventure in curing. It was great. Only did three pounds of pork belly, and it really was on a whim. We were in an Asian market (99 Ranch) and they had great looking pork belly. I'd worked with it last summer in my Preserving class, so figured I'd give it a try. Like: for the dressing, I baked my own seasoned bread. Put extra salt, thyme, rosemary, minced parsley flower heads, and sage in it (does that make it "Scarborough Fair" dressing??). I also used some of the homemade sausage I made a few weeks ago. Like: I made "Le Bete Noire" (see previous post from September 13th). Like: I got a free turkey two weeks before thanksgiving and so I took off the breasts and cured them, too, and then hot smoked them. Boy is that good! I roasted the legs and the carcass and made a couple of gallons of very rich turkey stock, and then reduced it to 2 quarts so I could just take a quart when I needed it and make a gallon of stock for the gravy etc. That worked out great. Like: I tried the Cooks' Illustrated method for salting the turkey instead of brining it. But I combined that recipe with the spice rubbed turkey from the November Bon Appetit, sort of. So I loosened the skin from the entire turkey, and combined some of the spice rub (coriander, cinnamon, cumin, smoked pimenton) with the salt for the rub and put that under the skin for 36 hours. Then I washed it all out and rubbed the skin with more of the spice, refrigerated overnight and so the skin got nice and dry. Turned out very crispy with great juicy meat in all places. And it was beautiful. Like: I made an ahi tartare with minced preserved lemon and some tapenade as accompaniments to the salad, which was baby greens with shaved fennel and red onion dressed with lemon viniagrette. Garnished with supremes of orange. The overall combination tasted great together and the platter was gorgeous. I taught my brother how to make little quenelles of the ahi and he put it together very nicely.

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