Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

We had a small event this year - but that didn't mean we skimped on anything. Serious Eats provided much of the inspiration, so although we didn't follow any of the recipes precisely, the essence was there.

The secrets were:

  • Home made cornbread
  • Sausage stuffing (dressing because it was outside the bird}
  • Low and slow sweet potatoes
  • Spatchcocked turkey - recipe here - no need to improve on perfection! I dry brined using 7T and 1T baking powder and followed the storage instructions from here.
  • Standard home made cranberry sauce - using bitter orange marmalade as a flavoring - from this blog post
For the Serious Eats recipes, please follow this link.and search for Thanksgiving. For our meal, please read on.


I was quite suspicious of this cornbread - it seemed awfully wet. But it came out spot on. There is no wheat in the recipe, so no gluten formation. Those friends of ours who have gluten issues are delighted.


15 oz yellow corn meal. We just used Quaker.
6 t baking powder
1t baking soda
2t kosher salt
1t sugar
2 1/2 cups buttermilk (we used left over from making our own butter)
1 stick unsalted butter - melted
3T rendered pork fat (from salt pork that we had rendered for a different dish)
3 eggs


Preheat 10" cast iron skillet in a 375 degree oven. Whisk the eggs into the buttermilk and drizzle the melted butter whisking constantly. Mix the corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar thoroughly. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix quickly. Do not over mix. When the batter is mixed, grease the inside of the hot skillet with the pork fat. Pour the batter into the hot pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes - until the internal temperature reaches 205 degrees.
Leave to cool in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack.

Sausage Stuffing (Dressing)

Because this is not stuffed into anything, I prefer to call it dressing. But either way it was pretty darned delicious. The Serious Eats recipe calls for sage sausage. No luck finding that here, so we substituted.


1 recipe bread pudding (as above) cut into cubes - about 3/4"
1 stick unsalted butter
12 oz sweet Italian sausage
12 oz hot Italian sausage
1 large yellow onion - diced
4 stalks celery cut into pieces the size of the onion dice. Any leaves are fine too.
3 cloves garlic - minced
A small handful of sage leaves - minced fine
3 1/2 cups turkey stock (we used frozen left over from a year ago, thawed) - divided use
4 eggs
1t habanero vodka (aka secret ingredient)
Kosher salt/pepper to taste. You won't need much because the sausage is well seasoned.
1/4 cup minced parsley. 


Place the cut corn bread onto a sheet pan and bake in a 425 degree oven turning occasionally until the outsides are fairly dry and a little toasted. 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, wait for it to stop foaming then add the sausage. Cook the sausage, breaking it up with the wooden spoon until there is no more pink.
Add the onion, garlic and celery. Cook until the vegetables are soft (10 - 15 min(. Do not allow the vegetables to brown. Remove from the heat. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of the stock.
Whisk together the remaining stock, the eggs, habanero vodka, and half of the parsley.
Place the sausage/onion mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the egg mixture and then add the cornbread. Transfer to a 9x13 baking pan (or a 10x14 oval pan) and cover with foil
You can leave it overnight in the fridge. It does firm up.
When ready to bake, cover with foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. At least that is what the recipe said. I turned the oven up to 400 and it still took an hour for the insides to be properly heated through - probably because I started it out too cold from the fridge.. I had suspected this, so allowed extra time in the timetable anyway. (See this posting from several years ago). And because You want the internal temperature (in the centre) to be over 150 degrees.
Bring out of the oven 15 minutes before serving and sprinkle the rest of the parsley on top.

Sweet potatoes

The good folks at Serious Eats suggested that we warm the sweet potatoes in the circulator at 145 degrees for a couple of hours. Then bake them low and slow. I tried this a couple of days ago, and in a blind tasting we couldn't tell the difference. So ditched the circulator for the big day.
There are also schools of thought about texture. I like them not to be whipped. A rough mash texture. But YMMV


4 large sweet potatoes (Beauregards, garnets or whatever you can get your hands on).
16 sprigs of thyme
1T vegetable oil
1 stick (4 Oz) softened butter
1t habanero vodka (aka secret ingredient)
3T sweet sherry (we had some PX left over from another party, so used that. Good move!)


Rub the skin of the sweet potatoes with oil, wrap them in foil with 4 thyme sprigs in each packet. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the 300 degree oven until the interior registers 208 degrees. The sweet potatoes should be quite soft.
Remove them from the oven, peel the sweeta potatoes into a large bowl. Beat in the butter and habanero vodka. Add the sweet sherry and beat some more. When the sweet potatoes have reached the desired consistency, transfer to vacuum bags and store in the fridge. To reheat, use the circulator set at 150 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Easier than trying to it on the stove top because you can setit and forget it..