Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Post

We are having a micro-Thanksgiving this year. Just four of us. A mushroom-hater, a pescatarian, a lactose intolerant, and a diabetic. A cooking challenge! 

We will miss the big Hautman Thanksgiving taking place a few miles to the east, but I’m sure I’ll hear all about it over the next few days. I need to catch up with a few cousins I haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving.

Despite the small guest list, our house is in a frantic uproar of cooking activity. It’s only nine a.m. So far this morning I’ve made vegetable stock for the wild rice casserole (we have one pescatarian). The turkey has been dry-brining for two days. (Pro tip: if you are making gravy from the drippings of a dry-brined bird, rinse it thoroughly before cooking, or your gravy will be ungodly salty.) I have taken a block of strong chicken stock out of the deep freeze—I’ll need that for the gravy. I have vacuum-sealed a piece of venison backstrap courtesy of my brohter Bob. I’ve been aging it for a few days, getting it ready for the sous vide bath. 

Last weekend my neighbor Mark returned from North Dakota after a successful pheasant hunting trip. He had told me that he and his buddies breast out their pheasants and don’t bother with the legs, and I was, like, WHY? Anyway, this year he brought me fifteen legs, and I confited them in the sous vide. When I share the result with him I guarantee he will never leave another leg behind. Yesterday I made rillettes from some of the confit. It’s amazing.

At the moment, Mary is working on her pumpkin pie. She has a great recipe suitable for her lactose intolerant self. It’s the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had. She’s also making cranberry sauce. I think it’s going to be an uncooked version—more of a relish than a sauce.

The pie comes out of the oven at 12:30, and the turkey goes in. I take a short nap. The venison goes in the sous vide bath at 3:00. Two hours at 129°. Our guests arrive at 4:00. We're aiming at at 5:30 sit down. Depending on when the turkey is done. Things are about to get crazy. Toast some bread for the rillettes. Parboil some wild rice. Chop and sauté vegetables, nuts, and lobster mushrooms (the mushroom-hater will just have to deal) for the casserole, assemble it, check on the turkey. Robin is bringing mashed potatoes this year—one thing I don’t have to think about. Did I burn the toast? Just a little. Oh, shit, I forgot the sweet potatoes. Do we need sweet potatoes? Probably not, but…peel, slice, and throw in a sauté pan with some butter and honey. 

Four o’clock. Ding-dong. The dogs go insane. Open wine. Hang coats. Assemble an appetizer tray: Toasts, rillettes, cheese, gherkins. Don’t eat too much—there’s a lot of food coming.

Check on the turkey—it’s only ten pounds, so it should be done around 4:30. I’ll let it rest while the wild rice casserole is in the oven, and use that time to make gravy. Mary is making a green salad.

Last minute: Carve turkey, sauté the venison. Oh, and sauté some scallops for the pescatarian. Is there enough food for him? I think so. What am I missing? Dressing? Green beans? Never mind that, there are only four of us. We’ll be eating leftovers for weeks.

I'll edit this to add food pics tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving.


George Sorensen said...

Doesn't "confited them in the sous vide" just mean marinate and grill?

Pete Hautman said...

Ha ha ha! No no no!