Thanksgiving, part 2: Roasting the turkey, cooking the dressing and vegetable side dishes

Sources:
Turkey: Fine Cooking #88 (also at FineCooking.com)
Dressing: Fine Cooking #35 (also at FineCooking.com)
Potato gratin: Fine Cooking #36 (also at FineCooking.com)
Squash: Fine Cooking #81 (also at FineCooking.com)
Brussel sprouts: Bob Blumer, The Surreal Gourmet (see FoodNetwork.ca)
Cranberry sauce: Fine Cooking #74 (also at FineCooking.com)
Pecan pie: Fine Cooking #88 (also at FineCooking.com)

I think the fact that most of us ate until we felt pain was an indication that the Thanksgiving meal was a success.

The brined turkey came out tender and juicy. This is at least the third time I’ve brined a turkey, and I wouldn’t consider cooking a turkey any other way. (I’ve also been going out of my way to ensure I get a fresh turkey–it too makes a big difference in the juiciness of the turkey.)

The turkey released surprisingly little juices–great for the turkey, but challenging if you’re counting on those juices for the gravy. So I’m glad I had lots of homemade chicken stock for making the red wine gravy. (How do you make gravy better? Add red wine.)

The sausage stuffing was a hit, as always. My butcher had medium (not mild) italian sausage, so I gave that a try. It added just a perceptible hint of spice, which was a nice variation.

Instead of mashed potatoes, I opted for a classic potato gratin (scalloped potatoes, or gratin dauphinois in French). I love potatoes… and there’s no way to make them better than cooking them in heavy cream. Pure decadence.

I took a bit of a risk with the cranberry sauce, trying a recipe that included rosemary. It was a pleasant success: the rosemary nicely complemented the bitterness of the cranberries and the recipe had just the right balance of sweetness.

The butternut squash and brussel sprout recipes–both simple preparations that come together quickly and easily on the stovetop–went over very well, and provided the perfect splashes of colour on the plate.

After going back for second and third servings, we all took a much needed digestion break so that we could return to the table for dessert. I’m quite partial to the chocolate espresso pecan pie I baked, and I think rightfully so. It makes me happy just thinking about it. A pie-ful of chopped toasted pecans, held together by a gooey mixture of corn syrup, chocolate and instant espresso. I’m starting to get hungry again.

Check out the photos… and print out some of the recipes for Christmas or next Thanksgiving.

Chocolate espresso pecan pie

Chocolate espresso pecan pie

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