Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Being an American, I am bound by solemn duty to observe the event in the manner of the fabled pilgrims. As the story goes, they invited a friendly group of natives to a party, slaughtered Ben Franklin’s favorite bird, stuffed it with bread and veggies, and then gorged themselves silly while singing Kumbaya. I’m not sure what sides they served. More recently, I’ve heard some folks try to dismiss this story as historical revisionism run amok. Pfft, I just think these people haven’t found enough to be thankful for and are taking their rage out on some poor defenseless puritans.
My extended family has been doing Thanksgiving dinner together for decades. Before I had so many cousins, it used to be a small gathering, but now it is usually twenty people or more. The food, though, is almost always the same. Turkey and ham are the proteins of choice. There are always mashed potatoes, cheesy potatoes, stuffing, and green bean casserole. My grandmother makes her own cranberry sauce recipe, which only about half the family eats, the rest opting for “the real stuff” straight from a can. She also makes the best dinner rolls. The less standard fare varies from year to year, usually depending on who is hosting the meal. For dessert, we normally have at least four different kinds of pie, and often several other options. And, of course, there are always spirits: this is the secret to a truly entertaining meal.
Because my wife and I both enjoy cooking so much, we will usually make our own Thanksgiving dinner the weekend afterward. This satisfies our cooking itch while also giving us the leftovers necessary to make sandwiches and thanksgiving leftover hash. We started out doing the traditional turkey cooking method: thaw it, stuff it, and roast it while basting every hour or so. Then my wife read an article by Alton Brown in Bon Appetit magazine.
This article advocated a few drastic changes to our process: brining the bird, using aromatics in the cavity instead of stuffing, and NO basting. When we finally sat down to eat, I was blown away. We’ve been cooking our birds this way ever since, and have even converted a few others into believers.
That’s really it for today, a few random paragraph-shaped ramblings about Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, and here’s a really simple recipe for leftover hash, which makes for a really good breakfast.
Thanksgiving leftover hash
• Turkey meat, chopped up
• Mashed potatoes
• 1-2 tbsp butter
Heat the butter in a non-stick skillet.
Mix the meat, stuffing, and potatoes together, then add to the skillet, flattening the mixture into a single layer.
Fry it up until everything is nice and golden around the edges, stirring occasionally.
It’s great just as it is, but consider putting a bit of your leftover cranberry sauce on top before eating.