Turkey Talk

I dedicate this post to my favorite holiday all about food and family, Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving day preparations have evolved in my family, the cooking has now been turned over to me with some help from grandma. As far as the main meal goes, we have turkey, ham, sweet and mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and sometimes I add another green. I have tried the addition of stuffing and green bean casserole, but those are not favorites in the family so I stick to those others.

We tend to eat thanksgiving dinner at a typical dinner time around 5 or 6pm.  Since we eat the feast a little bit later than other families may, I make three appetizers each year, so no one is too hungry mid-day. Appetizers are always a fun way to start the day, I change these every year to mix it up. Now that I know what they all like I keep the main course the same to then be finished off with apple pie, pumpkin pie, and sometimes a type of bread or pound cake as well.

Meat of the story: As far as the turkey goes, we use a family spice remedy that I think is delicious, a little bit bias of course, and involves no butter whatsoever. It’s a blend that my grandma has been making on Thanksgiving for years. It’s a mix of dried oregano, salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and plenty of garlic. Once this is all mashed together by mortar and pestle it creates a lovely adobo that makes a delicious au jus after being baked, which we use for gravy. As far as the ham goes I found a recipe for Country Style Glazed Ham a few years ago that I really enjoy and changed up just a bit. I use only a tablespoon of unsalted stick butter, an apricot peach preserve, and add some spices including cloves and a bit of nutmeg. Also, I try to only use about 1/2-3/4 of the jar of preserves since that is all it really needs to make enough to give the ham a full glaze, if I can find a locally made jam, that’s even better. Scoring the ham and inserting whole cloves in the cross sections contrasts with the sweetness of everything else very nicely, too.

Side story: Since green bean casseroles’ dismissal, which I still enjoy occasionally as a comfort food. I now make these Cherry Balsamic Green Beans I stumbled upon on a food blog called Pinch My Salt. For the mashed potatoes I make ’em how I always have; the garlic, red potato way. After washing and slicing the potatoes into slices, skin on or off whichever you prefer – the skin adds a nice texture but that’s up to you. The potato slices are covered with water, a sprinkle of salt,garlic cloves, and boiled until easily pierced with a knife but not mushy then drained and mashed together. The seasoning then begins. I always put salt and pepper to liking then add a tablespoon or two of butter just enough for flavor as well as smoothing the potatoes. Add some creaminess with sour cream, I’ve also used regular plain greek yogurt and found them both to work just fine. If you are a fan of the sour cream and chive combo, adding chives is always tasty too.

Dessert time: As far as pumpkin pie goes, I always just use the Libby’s recipe right off of the can, I’ve tried others but I love this one, it’s just creamy and spicy and delicious. I’ve also tried several apple pie variations and now just use a little combo of what I’ve seen with peeled sliced apples, usually Golden Delicious, with a mix of nutmeg, brown and white sugar, cinnamon, water, and flour. If you feel up to the couple minutes it takes to do the lattice crust, I encourage you to weave away. It looks so nice and is great with a light basting of butter on top, then sprinkled with a cinnamon and turbinado sugar mixture.

 

This year for appetizers I made a red pepper tostada, jerk shrimp, and prosciutto wrapped goat cheese stuffed dates.
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