So we survived Thanksgiving and, in fact, we were totally triumphant. Pretty much. Diane von Austinburg and I spent Wednesday prepping and cooking the stuff ahead of time that could just be warmed up and that was very amusing; we had a very amusing time. Turns out this kitchen is easy to cooperate in.
I decided to make just a turkey breast and a couple of legs since that’s all we wanted. Was I concerned about never having made drumsticks? Certainly not. Should I have been? Mmmmmmaybe.
I looked up several recipes just to get an idea about timing and one of them was from a cooking writer I like a lot, Mark Bittman, from the New York Times. Even though I know he’s reliable and talented, I didn’t follow his advice of cooking them at a fairly high temperature and came to regret it.
The stupid, fucking drumsticks took forever to get done, more than an hour after everything else was ready. I always work really hard at getting everything to land on the table at the same time, so I was pissed. Also when they finally did get done they were just tough as old boots.
But does anyone really care about the turkey? Let’s all just admit the sides are the real stars of this particular show. And our side dishes last night were flawless, if I say so myself.
We all agreed that there is no such thing as a bad potato dish, but the one I make, potatoes Dauphinoise, is my favorite. Thinly sliced potatoes (Diane called them “whisper thin,” which just shows how thoroughly we absorbed the extravagantly baroque advertising prose of our youth) are simmered in milk and then baked. It comes out creamy and rich and oh, so delicious. The milk will inevitably boil over onto the stove and make a sticky mess; resign yourself to it. It’s worth it.
Also, a cranberry chutney with dried apricots and fresh ginger. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the rich blandness of all the rest of the food. As a vegetarian, Diane provided tasty green beans with shallots and some perfectly delicate asparagus with lemon. Delicious.
My friend Drumstick (no relation to the fucking turkey legs) brought over the definitive apple pie. Oh my goodness. Even better, he left us a big chunk of it. I am a generous and giving person, but there is no way I would have left any of it behind. You would have had to fight me for it and it would have been ugly.
So tonight Diane and I have a substantial supply of leftovers to tide us through the evening. Tragically, we snarffled down every single slice of potato, but there’s still pretty good cornbread dressing and about a gallon of gravy. I’m sure I won’t starve.
Fresh ham. And big, too.
Don’t drip on the floor! Bad boy, bad.
The always charming Pavel Novotny