Beer, bacon and butter – these are three things that I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving. Keep reading below for a full debrief on how Thanksgiving went down in my house, including the salacious details of how the vegetables got drunk (but not wasted).
I’m also thankful for the extraordinary autumn weather we’ve had in Toronto this weekend. Each day has been crisp, sunny and nostalgia-inducing, a long weekend tailor made for Thanksgiving. I’ve been traipsing around in leggings, a plaid shawl pinned like a cape and chelsea boots, and will continue to do so until the weather puts a stop to it.
The above picture is a bit out of focus, let’s get a close up on those boots…
I’m also grateful for family – this was my first year cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my parents who are visiting from out of town. Without my mother, I would not have been able to pull off cooking a turkey, sides, homemade gravy and pumpkin pie in my teeny galley kitchen. Without my father and boyfriend, we wouldn’t have been able to eat it all.
This was my second year cooking a turkey – last year we did Friendsgiving and I cooked one from frozen. With memories of last year’s thaw-a-thon still haunting me, I decided to order a fresh turkey from The Healthy Butcher. We also picked up a container of their homemade dressing and cranberry sauce.
We warmed the dressing separately in the oven, and stuffed the turkey with fresh thyme and sage, a full lemon, a macintosh apple and half an onion so he’d steam up with flavour from the inside-out.
Under his skin we rubbed a mixture of butter, more fresh sage & thyme, lemon zest, salt, pepper, poultry spice and mustard powder.
For our main roasted side, we cubed carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes. We coated them in olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme, then drenched them in about a cup and a half of Collective Arts Saint of Circumstance Citrus-Infused Blonde Ale so they’d tell all their secrets over dinner. To help them caramelize towards the end we added about half a cup of pure maple syrup.
While the root vegetables were roasting, we slow braised brussel sprouts on the stovetop with the same beer, turkey drippings and smoked bacon from The Healthy Butcher.
Finger foods were not forgotten – the pickles and olives nested nicely in bowls I got on sale at West Elm this weekend.
We whipped up some creamy potatoes in my KitchenAid electric mixer, Betty. Normally I’d add in some sour cream (makes them taste like perogies) but my mom isn’t a fan so we just added a bit of regular cream, butter and chicken stock. We made gravy from the turkey giblets and drippings and dinner was served.
We cracked a bottle of Clairette de Die, a sweet natural sparkling wine from the Drôme region of southeastern France near where I used to live. According to local lore, a Gallic sherpard left a bottle of wine in La Drôme river to chill and forgot it over winter. When it was retrieved in the spring after sitting out all winter, he noticed it had become carbonated. This started a new tradition among Gallic tribes of making sparkling wine.
For dessert, I just made a simple pumpkin pie, but used my rectangular tart pan instead of a round pie plate.
My mom bought me an amazing pastry cloth and rolling pin cover from Lee Valley that has made all of the difference in the world. It was much more easy to roll out the dough and clean up was a breeze.
You rub flour into the cloth and it keeps the dough from sticking. It also imparts a nice cloth texture to the dough which gives it a uniform look. I used my Williams-Sonoma pastry cutters to do a few leaf cutouts as well.
With a rectangular pie, you can slice it into tidy little tranches with a pretty pastry cutout on each one. Fresh homemade whipped cream with cinnamon and vanilla is the finishing touch.
And with that picture, I’m off to have some leftover pie for breakfast. Hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving!