I’ve unfortunately yet again had to take a bit of a hiatus from this blog.
A new job was the culprit, as was some exciting new freelance opportunities, but I’m back and just in time for the craziness of the holiday season.
This past weekend was the calm before the storm, so to speak. Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Christmas parties, holiday work functions, it is all about to blow up in our faces.
Not to say that all of this partying is a bad thing.
I love slipping on a cute cocktail number and heading out to a fun festive get together, sipping on some eggnog and dancing to the latest holiday remix.
It all seems to fly by so quickly though.
One minute you are watching Santa usher in the holiday season at the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, the next you are wrapping last-minute gifts the night before Christmas.
Ok, so I tend to procrastinate a bit.
But one aspect of the holiday season I can guarantee does not take a back seat with time management is Thanksgiving dinner.
My dad is obviously at the helm of the planning and main event and I have been his faithful sous chef for the last 26 or so years (I like to think that at 4 years old I was at least providing some type of supportive help by eyeing what he was doing in my chair).
The meal is well planned at least a month in advance as is the pounds of turkey being prepared. In the past we’ve had two smaller 10-pound turkeys, so as to make sure we had leftovers and that everyone was sufficiently stuffed.
We are Italian after all. Making more food than technically necessary is our strong point.
But this year, with a few less mouths to feed at the table, my dad is trying out something new. He is roasting a 13-pound heirloom turkey and an 8-pound turkey breast.
“Most people want white meat and I think I’m one of the few people at Thanksgiving that eats dark meat,” he told me on the phone.
As for an heirloom turkey it is an older style, sort of like an heirloom tomato if you will. “It’s not as fat breasted and has more flavor to it,” my dad explained.
The man has never steered me wrong with cooking, so I’m thinking it’s going to be amazing.
On tap for the dishes to accompany this lovely bird are my cornbread turkey sausage stuffing, heavenly whipped mashed potatoes, thickly sliced sweet potatoes with butter and maple syrup, roasted asparagus with parmesan and simple yet always pleasing sautéed peas and pearl onions.
As for dessert, I always manage to save a touch of room for my dark chocolate pecan pie. It’s worth it trust me.
4 trays of cornbread (8×8 size tray)
3 small onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
fresh sage, rosemary, thyme (handful of each chopped)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon maple syrup
12 breakfast turkey sausage links (usually 2 packages)
Crumble cornbread into a big bowl, set aside. In a large sauté pan over medium heat melt the butter, add the chopped onion and celery. Cook until slightly browned. Add in the fresh chopped sage, rosemary and thyme and mix around. Turn the heat to hight and add in the white wine, stirring and scraping the pan to get up all the flavor bits (deglazing). Let cook for another 2 minutes and then take off the heat and add to the cornbread.
Cook the breakfast sausage per directions (unless already cooked – then just heat them up in a pan to defrost). Chop up the sausage and add it in to the cornbread and vegetables in the big bowl.
Stir the chicken stock and maple syrup in a measuring cup and microwave for 35 seconds. Fold into the cornbread mixture. Pour mixture into a casserole dish and bake in a 400 degree fahrenheit oven for 35 minutes, until top is golden brown.
Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie ( loosely adapted from Paula Dean )
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
2 cups pecans, roughly chopped
5 oz. dark chocolate chips, lightly chopped
2 tablespoons bourbon, (I use Jack Daniels)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Spear the bottom and sides of the pie shell with a fork. Place the chopped pecans inside the pie shell.
Mix all the ingredients together with a whisk. Pour mixture into the pie shell over the pecans and place on a cookie sheet. Bake pie in the oven for 10 minutes, reduce temperature to 350 degrees fahrenheit and bake for another 35 minutes.
If pie has not set, allow 5-10 more minutes. Keep in mind than pie will firm up more when it sits.