This is our ThanksGiving Bird, in all its naked glory. We picked it up yesterday, from TA Farms in Wyoming (Delaware), where they were expecting 900 people between Tuesday and Wednesday. I was glad we were there on Monday, with no line, although you could see they were set up for long ones. It is a fresh bird and fits all the other bills too - free range, no antibiotics or hormones, butchered on site. We got a 21 pounder, but it will not grace the table in the traditional manner. No, Kevin is getting all fancy on us, and while I am not sure I am happy about the lack of drumsticks and thighs this ThanksGiving (I am a dark meat girl), this will certainly be a festive platter, when all is said and done. Here are the first steps:
He is making turkey ballotine, so the first thing he had to do was de-bone the bird. Here you see the big bones cut out, leaving that pile of meat behind the tub to serve as the stuffing, along with the aforementioned thighs and legs, which will be cooked confit style today.
And here is the rest of our poor bird, cleaned of bones, seasoned with a little thyme, salt and sugar, waiting for tomorrow when it will be stuffed with meat, maybe cranberries too, maybe spinach, to be roasted on Thursday. We'll keep you posted.
The rest of the cooks at Brooks have their TG work cut out for them as well.
Mandrell is making a caramel glazed ham and his traditional take on sweet potatoes with marshmallows - his version using marshmallow fluff on top. There will be 7 people at his table.
Brittanny will see 15 dining with her on Thursday. She and Cherelle are teamed up, with Brittany making oven fried turkey and "Watergate" salad. The latter sounds like something similar to my favorite, pretzel salad, where actually I guess the salad part is what should be in quotation marks! Watergate Salad features pistachio pudding, whipped topping, marshmallows, fruit cocktail and nuts, layered in a glass bowl.
Cherelle's jobs include the ham, the deviled eggs and a taco dip - that layered concoction of salsa, sour cream, taco seasonings and cheese. I have a feeling Cherelle will be called upon for clean up too, but hopefully she'll get the day off from that.
The newest member of the lunch time brigade, LaToya, will be doing the macaroni and cheese for her family's TurkeyFest, where there will be ten at the table.
The dinner crew is apparently not quite ready for Thursday.
Jay just got his assignments today - he will be responsible for the stuffing (no, he doesn't know what kind) and a dessert (maybe cheesecake). He will probably be at the store on Thursday, picking up his ingredients! With 14 at table, he is getting off pretty easy.
And so is Arthur, who is only bringing the drinks. But there are going to be 20 people sitting down with him, so I guess that's enough, even though it doesn't seem to involve any cooking.
And Rodrigo - who seems to get off pretty easy every year - doesn't know what he's making when his family sits down. He thinks there will be seven of them and he thinks he is going to make an apple pie. He should probably discuss this with his mom first...
I guess these professional cooks should get the day off, but if they are like the one I live with, they really can't wait to jump in and participate. I am doing my bit to help provide the bounty - I am responsible for the cranberry sauce (meaning, get the can opener sharpened) and a dessert (box of chocolates should solve that). I also chill the champagne and open the wine. Isn't that enough?
Meanwhile, we broke into Thanksgiving a bit over the weekend and served this fabulous Paul Prudhomme sweet potato pecan pie. It's a classic, and would be a hit at any ThanksGiving table. I use a tart dough, rather than pie, and bake it in a spring form pan which gives it a more rustic look. It is one of Kevin's favorites, and we'll see, maybe it will be on the sideboard come Thursday.
What ever you do, everyone here at Brooks Tavern wishes everyone out there a most wonderful ThanksGiving celebration. It's the perfect holiday, centered around food, family and friends. Don't discuss politics, try not to sit next to Uncle Seymour, make sure the carving knife is sharp and everything will be Rockwellian perfect.