Are your pants hurting you right now?
Mine are definitely feeling a bit snug, which I guess is to be expected. We’ve had a mostly-lovely Thanksgiving this year—the exception being that about 5 minutes into dinner Theo started yelling “done” and wanted nothing to do with the best holiday of the year. But he recovered quickly (animal crackers and grandmas for the win).
As always, I’m documenting our menu for future generations to come. Just for reference, this is the sixth year I’ve done this (see 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 for historical context). It all started with the annual video conference a week before where we plan the menu. This time around we moved through things very quickly.
We seem to be getting better at this—we have a better sense of how much food is required to feed the group (we only make twice as much as needed rather than five times), a better sense of how long things will take and what should start cooking when, a better sense of how the food will look when placed all together on a plate (it’s important, trust me). Between my mother, my sister, and me, we understand how to divvy up the tasks and still have time for a walk sometime during the day. This last bit is important for keeping the pant-hurting levels to a minimum.
Now on to the menu.
No Thanksgiving dinner can start without a signature cocktail, which this year was a Cran Royale. Tart and sweet at the same time with a hint of thyme, I really loved this one. It’s a good drink for a New Years Party as well, if you’re thinking ahead. Rating: 5/5.
We packed the table with pâtés, olives, pickled everything, salamis, and a tarte soleil with pesto and olives that riffed off this recipe. Rating 5/5.
I wanted to keep the colors interesting, so we tried this Watermelon Radish, Orange, and Goat Cheese Salad. Unfortunately I cut the radishes a bit too thick for fear of slicing my finger tips off with the mandoline, so I didn’t love the texture of this salad, but the flavors were pretty good. Rating 3/5.
The second salad on the table was this Brussels Sprouts Caesar. The dressing turned out perfect but I found the Brussels sprouts a bit too tough—if I were to do it again, I’d probably try massaging a bit of olive oil into the salad ahead of time to break it down a bit more. Rating 2/5.
Turkey, Gravy, and Cranberry Sauce
The turkey was brined and turned out moist and juicy, but more exciting was this Mustard Seed Gravy. We’ve never been a gravy family, but a few years ago Jason started campaigning for gravy to be on the table, and we’ve attempted a few different versions. This is the first time I got excited about the gravy. Rating 4/5.
We also changed up the cranberry sauce this year with this Cranberry Sauce with Chiles recipe which had just the perfect amount of heat to it. Rating 5/5.
Stuffing is usually one of my favorite parts of the dinner, and this year we decided to try Rye, Kale, Mushroom, and Pumpkin Seed Stuffing. While I loved the flavor of the rye bread and the texture of the mushrooms and pumpkin seeds, I found that the ratio of bread to vegetables was totally off. Way too heavy on the bread, way too light on the vegetables. I would make this again but cut the bread by half. Rating 2/5.
This is at least the 6th year that we made these Mashed Potatoes with Garlic, Mascarpone, and Caramelized Leeks, and I can finally say, I think it’s lost it’s appeal. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still delicious, but I’m ready to move on. Rating 3/5.
Here’s where we started getting creative. For the side dishes this year, we had a Roasted Cauliflower Gratin with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese (rating 4/5), my Charred Green Beans with Spicy Garlic Aioli (rating 5/5), and the last minute addition to the menu: Brown Buttered Squash with Prosciutto and Goat Cheese (rating 5/5). I would happily eat all of these again next year, but I know that’s against the rules.
I didn’t get a chance to take as many photos of the dinner this year because Theo decided to be a baby. Instead, I’ll give you a 30 second time lapse of our hour and a half meal. Watch those wine glasses, they’ll tell you a lot.
I’ve never been an exceptionally good baker, but I’ve been on a roll lately with making different kinds of curd, which is exactly why this Cranberry Lime Pie caught my eye. I have to say that this is the best dessert I’ve ever made, and I would gladly eat that curd straight out of a jar. In fact, this may be my holiday gift this year. Rating 5/5.
Hoping everyone ate something memorable this Thanksgiving. Go hug someone you love.