Thanksgiving is an ensemble cast with the turkey receiving top billing, however, no star lights up the big screen alone and a good supporting cast is necessary to make them shine. This year’s Thanksgiving was a culinary success due to a great turkey and some solid performances from outstanding supporting dishes. The stand out performance this year goes to *drum roll, please* the Brussels Spouts! Also providing solid performances were the triple corn spoonbread, Cheryl’s house rolls, and gravy. A cast this good adds up to one blockbuster feast!
Although my “testgiving” turkey was good, it was not going to be good enough for the big day so I made some changes behind the scenes. I started with a fresh turkey and used a new brine recipe. To add more flavor to the bird I rubbed the skin down with a butter seasoned with garlic, black pepper, white pepper, tarragon, sage and some kosher salt. And for even more supporting flavor I filled the cavity with an apple, a lemon and a bundle of fresh herbs; rosemary, sage and tarragon. There was no shortage of flavor being applied to this bird.
This years standout performance comes from the unexpected brussels sprouts, prepared by my lovely wife. Yes, it’s true! Now I have not eaten a single brussels sprout since I was all of 8 years old, when my dad tried to teach me a lesson and wouldn’t let me leave the table until I had eaten all of the sprouts on my plate. My dad went to his room to read and left the enforcement of his decree to my sister, Diane, she caved and took my plate away and tossed the uneaten sprouts. Well the other day we were watching the Thanksgiving Throwdown with Bobby Flay and the Pioneer Woman, and were intrigued by Bobby’s brussels sprouts recipe. I decided 35 years was long enough to hold a grudge against the poor spouts and suggested that we, meaning Cheryl, make that for our token thanksgiving vegetable. These babies were roasted in the oven, tossed with vanilla butter, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pecans, then drizzled with a homemade pomegranate molasses. Here’s the link to the recipe, it will change your mind about brussels sprouts. Brussels Sprouts Recipe.
Along with the task of cooking the turkey I was tasked with making gravy as well. I have only made gravy a few times and was a little nervous because Thanksgiving gravy is serious business. Although gravy is only a supporting cast member it can really impact the performance of the other dishes. So I started with the basic roux and added drippings and broth from the boiled neck. The secret to a good gravy…go easy on the liquids and keep stirring.
For an encore we finished off our feast with pumpkin bars, coconut cupcakes and of course a pumpkin pie. Sorry I was too busy eating to get pictures of everything, they will just have to settle for a mention in the closing credits. Over all, this was one of the best Thanksgiving feasts we have made yet and they seem to get better every year. We will continue to rewrite our recipes and refine our supporting cast of dishes so that next year’s feast is even better. Will this year’s performance receive a coveted Academy Award? Not sure, but it damn well deserves a nomination. Eat hearty, my friends!