Friday, November 24, 2006

T-Bird for Two

I proclaimed that this Thanksgiving was a "stay at home and shovel out the hovel" holiday, so we didn't go anywhere...which can really be interesting when you decide to cook Thanksgiving for Two. (I probably should have gotten a couple of Banquet Hungry Man TV Dinners and been done with it, but, oh, no, I'm a Culinary Student, so I gotta produce something grand and wonderful. Sometimes, I should just smack myself. Hard.)

So, I picked up the Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetit and decided to run with a couple of things out of that. Here's what we had:

Good Eats Roast Turkey
Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
Green Beans with Shallots and Bacon
The Cranberry Salad That Feeds a 1000
Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms & Parmesan Cheese
Yeast Rolls
Apple-Pineapple-Cranberry Crisp

Yep, finally brined a turkey. It was a tiny turkey (11 pounds), but I thought it wouldn't be too overwhelming. The brining made it very moist, even though I cooked it breast-side up. (The debate on the breast thing probably rivals that whole "over or under toilet paper role" brouhaha that Dear Ann and Abby had going in the 80s. Seriously.)

I did it the Alton Way, which was very simple, and he puts it in breast side up. I couldn't figure out if I was supposed to put the cinnamon sticks in with the rest of the aromatics, because SOMEONE (The Man) forgot to bring the Good Eats DVD with the Romancing the Bird episode home from work, and I missed recording the show when it was on earlier. So, I threw them in anyway. What the hell. And, it seemed to least it didn't taste like a Cinnamon Red Hot. (Add those little suckers and Atomic Fireballs to the list of things I hate...for some reason, hot cinnamon is just vile, vile I tell you.)

The really new and different thing I tried this year was the Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms and Parmesan Cheese, which we promptly renamed Mushroom-Parmesan Gratin, because the idea of a "savory" bread pudding sort of squeed both of us out. Bread pudding is for rum sauce or bourbon sauce...not 'shrooms and Parm. We could get into that whole "dressing versus stuffing" thing that seems to run along the same lines that the War of Northern Agression did, but we won't. Confession time: I kinda like both, if they are both done well. Ain't nothing worse than mediocre dressing and/or bland stuffing. (And, thanks to my friend Kimma, I have a small pan of bona fide Southern dressing to eat with the leftovers. I think she thought I needed a backup plan. : ) )

Anywhooooo, the "gratin" as we're calling it turned out quite nicely. It's kind of like a quiche with the crust mixed in. I'm actually having some for breakfast this morning. The only change I made was to use red bell pepper instead of green. Can't abide the green. I would definitely make this again, and not just for Turkey Day. The recipe suggests that it would be a good vegetarian meal option (provided they are ovo-lacto vegetarians) or would be nice for lunch with a salad, a la quiche.

For dessert, I did the Apple, Cranberry, and Pineapple Crisp, which Epicurious doesn't seem to have listed in the database. It was pretty good--not as sweet as other desserts, which can be a welcome change. Not to fear, Kimma made sure we were supplied with a backup dessert of something called a "boat sinker," which is a chocolate pie so dense that if you eat it, you could sink any boat you boarded. That recipe starts with 5 (yes, that was 5, V, five, cinco) sticks of butter, so you know it's gotta be good. It's best eaten in small slices, so you don't have a Titanic situation on your hands.

Apple, Cranberry, and Pineapple Crisp (Bon Appetit November 2006)
6 servings

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
10 Tbs (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, diced, room temp
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup chopped pecans


1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 1/4 pounds Golden Delicious apples (about 3 medium), peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled cored fresh pineapple

Vanilla ice cream

For topping:
Whisk brown sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Add butter; cut in with back of a fork until mixture is crumbly. Add oats and pecans; blend until clumps form. (Topping can be prepared 1 day ahead; keep chilled.)

For filling:
Whisk first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add apples, cranberries, and pineapple. Stir until fruit is evenly coated. Let stand until juices form, tossing occasionally, at least 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread filling in an 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over. Bake crisp until filling bubbles thickly and topping is crisp and brown, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.

All in all, a nice little meal with some leftovers, but not too many. Everything was pretty tasty, the firemen weren't cranky about being called out on a false alarm...oh, I didn't mention that part, did I? In cooking the Good Eats turkey, Alton's directions tell you to crank the oven up to a rip roarin' 500 degrees F and throw the bird in for 30 minutes to brown and crisp the skin. You then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue roasting. What he does not mention is that while the oven is cranked up as far as its little coils will go, that there might be smoke...especially if you maybe haven't cleaned the oven in a while, or dripped oil on the side of the pan, etc.

So, there was smoke. Which, predictably, drifted out of the oven when I opened it, formed into the shape of an arrow, and made a beeline for the smoke detector in the hall. The smoke detector that's part of the security system, which has monitors that call to check before sending out the fire department. The phone rang exactly 1 time. I thought The Man got it and explained the situation, but evidently the alarm company decided that they shouldn't wait for us. So, I'm running around, opening windows, and airing the place out, when I hear the distant wail of sirens...sirens that are getting closer by the minute. The Man went out to greet them, and explain that it wasn't really a fire. The fireguys were very nice about it (yeah firemen!) and commented that it kept the day from being boring.

The poodles were on sensory overload by this time--fire alarm, fire trucks, roasting turkey--it was a wonder their little heads didn't explode...which was a good thing, because I'm betting it's harder to find a vet on Thanksgiving Day than it is to find a fireman.

Gobble, gobble.

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