Those who know me know that I love to cook. I find that using food as a creative outlet is extremely therapeutic, and sharing my creations with someone who truly enjoys them is so rewarding.
This year I nearly begged my parents to host Thanksgiving, with the understanding that I would be responsible for (almost) everything. Last year my dad was the chef de cuisine and I his sous chef; I felt confident that this was my year to rise to the top tier and bless my family with a beautiful meal.
Fourteen of us gathered in my parents’ New Jersey home on Thanksgiving Thursday. I prepared an extensive menu with the old standbys, new additions and twists on Thanksgiving classics. The best part is that every single thing was made by me or my dad. Nothing came from a can, bag or industrial processing line. This meal was the definition of home cooking.
- Salad: Spinach and radicchio with pear, brie and pecans. Dressing made from orange juice, honey, balsamic and dijon.
- Soup: Butternut squash, sweet potato and carrot. Homemade cinnamon apple chips to garnish.
- Turkey: (Prepared by dad, a turkey master) Salt brined in lemon and fresh oregano, cooked with lemon, celery and onions in the cavity.
- Gravy: (Also dad) Lemon and oregano to match the brine. Nice punch of acid with a white wine lurking in the background.
- Stuffing: (Dad’s famous recipe – don’t mess with it) Sausage, apples, walnuts, celery and onions go into this beautiful bake. This is not Stove Top.
- Mash: (Last chance for Dad to shine) A thing of legend which relatives demand. The trick? White pepper.
- Cranberry Sauce: Cranapple sauce to be precise. Lemon zest and Grand Marnier to spruce things up a bit.
- Green beans: Baked with bacon and onions. Sauce made from bacon drippings, apple cider vinegar and sugar. Game changer.
- Pumpkin cheesecake: With a gingersnap and pecan crust and topped with salted caramel. The most decadent, luxurious thing I’ve eaten all year.
Beautiful as this feast was, all good things must come to an end. November is finished and it’s time to eat to the death to declare a winner this month. Find out how we repurposed the best meal of the year and turn it into a punishment: