All American fair?
For those of you in far off places there's many
reasons why we Americans are so distracted.
The plethora of pointing digits in Washington
certainly keeps us entertained. Plus repeated
revelations post claims of lack of recall on the
part of some. Then of course broad promises
of tax cuts for all concurrent with attempts to
cut medical insurance for some. Rumor and
innuendo aside, those in high places in these
United States of America are suffering from
an extreme case of mendacity. Meaning few
should be trusted. Thank God the maligned
media continues to keep them accountable!
As of now most Americans are focused on
a bunch of turkeys. Not the kind that inhabit
our hallowed halls of government but rather
those who belong in a roasting pan. Thursday
marks one of the most beloved holidays of
our year - Thanksgiving. While it's origins
may be questionable given historical context,
most of us simply enjoy getting together for
a home cooked meal. This year Frank and
I are hosting his clan and couldn't be happier.
You see in my opinion there's no easier meal
than turkey with all the trimmings. Even if
it means spending a few days in the kitchen.
I don't understand what all the fuss is about.
Some folks "brine" their birds i.e. soak them
in salt water for days before the big event.
I've never tried it because I'm not sure that
I have a pot with room for my bird to swim.
Secondly because I really try to limit my
interaction with raw poultry to a minimum.
Therefore our turkey will sit and wait in the
fridge until I'm good and ready. Nowadays
few if any stuff their buggers. Hence while
I may question concerns about bacteria, I'm
cooking my dressing in a separate casserole.
Filling the void with onions, carrots, etc.
Many feel that turkey can be dry - especially
white meat. Hence almost every household
has some home remedy to keep things juicy.
For years I filled the space between the skin
and meat with butter and herbs. Religiously
basting for hours. However slowly I realized
that the good stuff melted away and ended
up at the bottom of the pan. Hence the need
to find some solution that literally stuck to
the turkey's ribs. Ultimately I took someone's
advice and slathered my bird with a full jar of
mayonnaise. The result being a coating that
stays put for hours before finally soaking in.
Easy does it
Once you've got your bird in hand and under
control, the rest is really rather easy. Anyone
can mash some potatoes or roast a few yams.
All one has to do is follow the directions on
a package of cranberries to insure things gel.
Then of course there are the other assorted
family favorites. I try to serve at least one
green vegetable. After years of trial and error
I've decided Brussel sprouts are the best as
they hold up long term. You can roast them
with pancetta and onions or simply steam
them. In both cases I cover them with some
butter and maple syrup. They goggle it up!
Having had two full blooded Italian mother-
in-laws - I long ago learned that pasta is the
most important part of a meal. This year I'm
making it easy on myself by serving stuffed
manicotti. I'll make them Tuesday and then
simply pop them in the oven on Thursday.
Then of course one must serve pumpkin pie
and assorted sweets. This year I'm being lazy
and having a friend make them for us. Not
only does that take one (well actually four)
things off my list but it helps somebody make
a living. No wonder I consider her one of my
life's blessings. Thank GOD for Miss "R"!
Last but not least and always first is the soup
course. I realize that some find the very idea
of starting off with some broth as decadent
given all of the food to come. Yet I feel that
soup provides a smooth transition to the rest
of the meal. This year I'm making cream of
butternut squash with a dash of turmeric. It's
easy to make and oh so yummy. Somehow
it seems to be everybody's favorite. As you
know I never use a recipe. However given
two of my most popular blogs ever included
recipes for soup - I going to try to share an
"approximation." YOU CAN DO IT!
CREAM OF BUTTERNUT SOUP
3 large "strong" onions
1 Butternut squash
Butter and olive oil
Dash of bourbon
12 cups of homemade chicken stock
1 to 2 teaspoons of turmeric.
Salt & pepper to taste
Heavy cream to taste
Peel and chop onions in large pieces.
Peel squash, remove core seeds and fiber.
Cut squash into 1 to 2 inch cubes
In a dutch oven over medium heat
- Melt a 50/50 mix of butter and olive oil.
- Start with about 3 tablespoons of each
Add squash and onions.
- Saute over medium heat uncovered.
- You want the squash and onions to caramelize.
- Please don't burn!
- Add more butter if necessary to avoid sticking.
- Deglaze pot with a dash of bourbon.
- Stir until booze evaporates.
Add 8 cups of chicken stock
- Reserve two cups for later...
Add 1-2 teaspoons of Turmeric (to taste)
- Bring to a boil
- Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes
Remove lid - let soup cool for 30 minutes.
- Should be warm, not hot, not cold.
Process in food processor until smooth
- Small batches, use steel blade
- Should be liquidly smooth - NOT BABY FOOD.
- If necessary add reserved stock
to achieve proper consistency.
Add cream to taste
- It's up to you how much...
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cool completely to room temperature
- Then cover and put in the fridge.
Prepare several days before.
GETS BETTER THE LONGER IT SITS.
Reheat on low until it gently simmers.
Serves twelve plus leftovers!
Garnish with buttered croutons if you like!