Yes, hi, me again! I know I promised everybody a lot of Thanksgiving-related posts and they’re on their way, I swear. I’ve been reeling a bit from a bad case of the common cold for the past week or so, so as of right now I’m still hard at work analyzing, writing and compiling recipes from this Saturday’s turkey extravaganza.
To keep you occupied while you wait, I suggest either trying the recently re-surfaced and exciting online video game Waiting in Line 3D, or checking out the images and my little teaser play-by-play below. Recipes and tips from this year’s Thanksgiving dinner will start rolling out beginning tomorrow, I promise!
With a little help from my friends
The dishes below, I shared on a cold November night with some of my favorite people: my beautiful friends Tina, Emelie, Malene, my buddy Jeppe and, of course, Tina’s and Jeppe’s offspring, the eight month old bundle of joy, Lukas. The whole ordeal started out as a pretty simple agreement between Malene and I to share some turkey and a slice of pumpkin pie. It eventually spun completely out of control into a full-fledged Thanksgiving Dinner, the reasoning and manifesto behind which can be found right here. In one way or another, everybody pulled together and helped make this possible, be it by bringing beers or food, helping with plating or preparations, doing dishes by hand or unclogging the drain on the dishwasher. Just as Thanksgiving should be. Teamwork rocks, we should do this again next year!
1st course: Tina’s Jerusalem Chokes
The first dish of the evening wasn’t even supposed to be on the menu. However, there’s this lovely tradition surrounding Thanksgiving stating that no one shows up empty-handed. I jokingly told Tina that for her contribution, she could choose between bringing snacks or providing an appetizer/starter. Much to my surprise, she jumped straight for the starter option. I’m not sure if she was secretly out to impress, but what she came up with in the blink of an eye was actually rather impressive.
Tina’s starter featured a purée of baked Jerusalem chokes from her neighbor’s garden blended with roasted garlic, cream, turkey drippings and a hint of truffle oil. She served it on toasted baguette with a topping of bacon bites, skyr (an Icelandic tangy cheese product) and tarragon for a perfect mix of texture and tastes. Tina claims I taught her to cook. If so, I stand before you today a humbled and very proud man!
Wine pairing: J. Moreau & Fils 2011 Chablis (100% Chardonnay) – Tina loves white Burgundy (who doesn’t?), so I wanted t0 pick something from that general area to make her happy. The crisp bite of a young Chablis cut through the sweetness and the fat textures of this dish wonderfully.
2nd course: Johan’s French Onion Soup
For my own starter, I went with one of my all time favorite comfort foods. I love French onion soup. I love making French onion soup. I love feeding people French onion soup. And apparently people love to eat my French onion soup. As a matter of fact, my version has been labeled by some as the World’s definitive best take on French onion soup. Whether this is true or not, I can’t say, but I’m super excited to be sharing my recipe with you later this week.
My take on French onion soup features a small metric ton of onion, dry white wine, dry French cider, home-made beef stock and a healthy dose of Cognac. Topped with croutons and Swiss Gruyére cheese, it’s a perfect and lip-smackingly good starter for a wholesome winter meal. Thanksgiving dinner included.
Wine pairing: Domaine Saint-Rémy 2010 Riesling Herrenweg (100% Riesling) – A superb wine from a superb vintage from one of my favorite Alsatian producers. This benchmark Alsace Riesling has enough fruit and perceived sweetness to match the dish, yet enough boldness and character to still stand out.
3rd course: Thanksgiving Turkey 2013
The star of the show and the subject of much research, debate, fuzzing, worrying and attention. This was my first time cooking turkey and with only the memory of my late grandma’s Christmas turkey to fall back on, the task seemed pretty daunting.
This year’s bird was brined, slow-roasted and even broiled. It was then cut into chunks and served up with sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, burnt carrots, giblet gravy and a licorice/ghost chili cranberry sauce. The result wasn’t perfect, but it sure as hell was better than I’d dared hope for, and I’ll pretty soon be sharing some do’s and dont’s as well as recipes for some of my, shall we say, interesting side dish choices.
Wine pairing: Domaine Maby 2007 Nessun Dorma, Cuvée Prestige (Syrah, Grenache Mourvèdre) – Top of the line wine from Domaine Maby in the Southern Rhône region of France. At six years old, this is still very much going strong with tons of fruit, character and tannins. A good match for turkey.
4th course: Malene’s Pumpkin Pie
This, ladies and gentlemen is the dish that set the ball rolling. “Did you know that I apparently make a pretty rocking pumpkin pie?” my friend Malene asked me one day. “I did not,” I replied, “but you must bake me one some day! Then I’ll do a turkey and we’ll invite people over and call it Thanksgiving!” That’s the simplified version, of course, but it’s pretty much how all of the above came about, give or take a few details.
Malene’s gorgeous and very filling pumpkin pie was the perfect end to a perfect Thanksgiving dinner. With a crunchy crust and a moist and fluffy filling, it was the perfect combination of textures while the pumpkin flavor and the warmth from the spices complimented each other beautifully. I’m not a big pie guy, but this was awesome!
Wine pairing: Les Terrasses d’Eole 2011 Vènt di Damo (100% Viognier) – I’m not going to lie to you. Finding a wine pairing for pumpkin pie wasn’t easy. I eventually gave up and asked my wine guy. He suggested this slightly sweet little thing with notes of white fruit, peach and citrus. It was perfect. Not cloyingly sweet, it balanced the heaviness, sweetness and spiciness of the pie just perfectly.
5th course: The one that got away!
I’d originally planned for a fifth serving of coffee and/or hot cocoa with marshmallows accompanied by my mom’s home-made Christmas cookies. ‘tis after all the season. It’s been ten years since my last Thanksgiving, though, and what I’d apparently completely forgotten in the meantime is how absolutely full, drowsy and incapacitated a couple of servings of turkey chased by a healthy slice of pie leaves you.
The cookies will have to wait for some other day and some other post, but after the extravaganza above, I’m pretty sure no one really missed them.
Stay tuned (a little longer) for recipes and tips!