I love, love, love holidays. Why? Holidays means FOOD, especially the particular kinds of foods associated with those holidays. I did mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival, which was tons of fun. Although I’m typically traveling during Thanksgiving break, due to circumstances I ended up staying in Pittsburgh. I was determined to create my own Thanksgiving dinner if I wasn’t going to go to one. I HAD TO DO THIS. It was a little stressful, but everything turned out okay and dinner was delicious (and fatty). I would have loved to do Thanksgiving dinner with David, my friend who made mooncakes with me, but unfortunately he went home so it was me solo-ing this damn thing. I decided on only a couple of dishes since I wasn’t feeding a lot of people. This post is more of a share-my-experience post instead of my omg-try-this-recipe post.
This one was easy. I basically took 3 potatoes (probably russet, although my supermarket did not label what type they were), boiled them for an hour, added in 8oz heavy cream, 3 oz Romano cheese (fail on my part, it was supposed to be Parmesan), some salt, and a handful of flat parsley, roughly chopped. A couple of things did go wrong though – the potatoes exploded while boiling, so I probably messed up something there. But heavy cream and gravy always saves the day anyway. Oh, I decided to add that parsley because my friend, Dennis, was like, “Don’t we need those green things in the mashed potatoes?” Since I didn’t have scallions, I though parsley would be a nice addition.
Omnomnom. I love well made green beans. It reminds me of home. My suite mate complained about not making green bean casserole with campbell’s canned food items, but being the food snob I am, I wouldn’t make anything from a can, but I also didn’t want to deal with cream of anything. Anyway, it was just a simple blanched green beans with some garlic and butter. I took left over basting sage butter for the turkey and heated it up with the green beans and some garlic to make this dish.
I made honey roasted sweet potatoes. I basically cut up sweet potatoes to 3/4″ rounds, tossed it in some olive oil, honey, and salt, and then roasted them under a 375F degree oven under foil. Then I took them out, uncovered and turned the potatoes, and roasted it until the honey caramelized. It was yummy. I loved sweet potatoes, and this dish was so easy that I couldn’t have gone wrong with it unless I burnt it.
There was no way in hell I would attempt to roast a whole bird in the dorms. Actually, after this experience, unless I ever get a probe thermometer, I would probably never ever do it. Ever. This was the dish that I was afraid of messing up. All the other ones were more or less fool proof, short of burning it, but turkey. Oh god dry turkey was my biggest nightmare. Everyone hates dry turkey, and everyone expect dry turkey. I was working against expectations of failure, so this dish had to be double-y good. The trick was to NOT roast a whole turkey, and NOT buy turkey breast. Yes you heard me. Stay away from something that is so easy to mess up. I used turkey thighs instead.
Here is the recipe from Food Network that I used for my turkey. I took 4 turkey thighs, and dry brined them in the morning. Then I used a blend of sage, parsley, and onions as a paste to put between the meat and skin, and laid them into a roasting pan (w/o rack) with a little oil and lined the bottom with fresh bay leaves. I then roasted them at an oven initially set to 450F, but turned down to 40F just as I put it in. I basted it twice with bay leaf infused butter, once before putting it in and once in the middle of roasting. I think I ended up roasting it for about an hour, which was way too long because my thermometer registered 190F when I pulled it out (I was shooting for 180F). But oh well, that’s the beauty of thigh meat! No need to worry about overcooking it as much as breast meat.
I took all the juices and oil, poured it into a small pan and made gravy out of it. Basically I whisked in a couple of tablespoons of flour, and then used 3 tiny cubes of chicken bouillon in about 200mL water. The gravy ended up separating because I wasn’t careful about it, but it was still delicious.
I had planned on making a pecan pie, but I didn’t have enough pecans so I used walnuts instead, lol. It ended up tasting like bananas, probably because the taste of it was associated with banana walnut bread. But anyway it turned out okay, not as successful as I would have liked. I used this chocolate toffee pecan tart recipe from the Food Network and the pie crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
For the pie crust, I added 2 tbsp of cocoa powder for the chocolate portion, and used an extra tbsp of vegetable shortening (fake butter) for good measure. For the filling, I doubled the recipe, and got rid of the brown sugar, and only used 1/2 of the corn syrup. For the toffee part, I’m not sure what happened. I let it boil and caramelize, but somehow the caramelized milk solids separated from the ghee. I was so confused, so I decided to get rid of most of the clear liquid. I then added the flavoring ingredients and eggs and corn syrup. It was baked at 350F, but I suspect the oven runs hotter than it claims, because the crust and top of the pie were really over baked. I should really try this recipe again to figure out what I did wrong, but overall it was good because nuts are delicious. I probably could have used more sugar too.
So I invited a couple of friends over and Annie brought delicious rosemary rolls.
Finally, the last dish, a friend, Dennis, brought pumpkin pie.
I had so much fun today, as stressful as it was to make a whole Thanksgiving dinner. I think I will attempt stuffing the next time I do it. Also, a super fail on my part – I had bought cranberry relish for the turkey, but I completely forgot to take it out. Oh well, the turkey was delicious with out it anyway.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope all your dinners were successful! =)