Ah, the day has finally come. The one holiday anyone can celebrate. What is more American than a day devoted entirely to eating? Not much else. Below is what is one the menu in my house today. My mom takes care of most of it, but there are a few things I will be handling this year.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Pie
Bacon-Bourbon Brussels Sprouts
Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
Chocolate Pecan Pie
For several years, we have actually done our turkey in a slow-cooker instead of the oven. The reason for this is, the first Thanksgiving we decided to do at our house (we either ate at a restaurant or my uncle’s before that), the oven actually broke when the turkey was cooking. It didn’t shut off entirely, but refused to hold the heat at the required temperature. We took it out, ready for dinner, and it wasn’t cooked. So it went back in for another hour and thankfully finished cooking. It the meantime, all the sides got dried out. It seems everyone has a funny/horror story from Thanksgiving. That would be mine. My mom vowed then and there it would never happen again, so into the slow-cooker it went. I prefer it this way. We have a small gathering, so the smallish turkey fits fine. It stays moist and produces a fantastic gravy. There’s also more room in the oven for the many side dishes.
The two sides I have always been in charge of are the mashed potatoes (my favorite part of the meal) and the bacon-bourbon brussels sprouts. As I’ve written about on this blog before, these sprouts are a wonderful combination of sweet, salty, savory, and smoky. There is also a sweet potato casserole where mashed sweet potatoes get tossed with pecans and topped with marshmallows. It’s then placed under the broiler to get a nice caramelization. The broccoli rabe and sausage pie is a massive side dish that one could probably do without in the middle of this massive feast, but we’re Italian, and it has become a mainstay over the years. The stuffed mushrooms and artichokes are two other simple ways to get some more veggies onto the table without a ton of calories. Both are stuffed with a mixture of Italian breadcrumbs, panko, and garlic. The fried asparagus never make it to the table as they are consumed as soon as they are done frying.
For the first time, I made Marlborough Pudding, which I got from the program referenced in my post about 1830’s Thanksgivings in Sturbridge Village. This was done yesterday. A simple recipe consisting of apple sauce, eggs, sugar, a dash of cream sherry, and a lot of butter. Fun fact: in the 1800’s, a baked good needed to have a crust over the top to be called a pie. Anything left open was a pudding. So technically what we eat today as pumpkin pie is actually a pumpkin pudding. This is not a dessert. It is sweet, but it’s supposed to be served with the meal so the sweetness compliments the more savory aspects of your feast. However, up until the 1900’s (and even beyond in some households), dessert was always on the table at the same time as the other food. Our dessert today will include a homemade chocolate pecan pie.
Last but not least, we have some homemade Grand Marnier cranberry sauce which is a first-time try for us. I’ll have to let you know how it is. And there is also the stuffing which is the only store-bought item on the entire table. I actually hate stuffing (with a passion). Call me weird. Me, a fierce and passionate lover of bread who loathes stuffing as if it is the coming of the anti-Christ. My parents buy it at a local Italian market. I’m told it is made with sausage and is very good, but I’ll take their word for it.
I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving! Buon appetite!