I’ll start with an apology for not keeping up on the blog lately – I can make excuses but mostly I’m lazy. I made the decision a while back to blog twice per week and I want to stick by that, even if that means catching up when I fall behind. My good friend and food blog-buddy Joey just posted her 100th entry last week on My Food Obsessions. That inspired me to press on and continue to fight the food fight – and really, what self-respecting food blogger doesn’t have a thanksgiving story to tell?
Last Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m not certain why its earlier than the American and aside from celebrating the harvest, I’m not even certain the history, but that is reason enough for me. This year I was away from my family on the day so for the first time I attempted a thanksgiving-esque meal for my dear friend Andrea, who was also away from her family for the holiday. I have certainly cooked each of the items individually, but have never prepared them all at the same time for one meal. The experience has given me a new respect for the thanksgiving cook – though no one item is complex on its own, the timing and preparation can be… interesting.
I started with an herb-roasted chicken. I slipped my hand under the skin on the breast of the chicken – a place I’ve become both familiar with and fond of. This is a place where dreams are made, where the magic happens, and on this thanksgiving day, the magic certainly happened. Using the herbs from my garden I stuffed thyme, rosemary, chopped garlic and butter under the skin of the breast. The butter because the breasts have very little fat in them, and require some help to stay moist. I also stuff the skin on the drumsticks as well then throw whatever herbs/garlic I have leftover into the cavity of the bird. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t stuff this bird, but c’mon, we only met the day before. After patting the skin dry, rubbing olive oil and salt & pepper over the skin, it sits on a rack of celery, carrots and onions. The rack helps the air to more evenly move around the chicken while the vegetables help flavour the bird, and the eventual broth, but that’s another story. I baked this for 20 minutes at 425 Fahrenheit to help the skin crisp, then another 15 minutes per pound at 350. Watch closely and baste as often as you think is necessary, I basted 3 or 4 times over a 1.5 hour cooking period. The chicken is done when you slice in and the juices run clear.
The sides were all fresh, simple and roasted: Roasted sweet and baby potatoes; Roasted brussel sprouts; Roasted stuffed tomatoes.
I won’t patronize you with detailed roasting instructions. Potatoes included olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, salt & pepper. The brussel sprouts included olive oil, dried herbs, butter, salt & pepper and were covered with foil at 350 for 30 minutes. The tomatoes however are a different story:
My parents started to make these when they came across the recipe in the ‘South Beach Diet’ cook book. Make no mistake – South Beach, Atkins, and anything else that deprives your body/mind/soul of healthy fats, sugars and carbohydrates is absolute bullshit – sorry mom. The not so big secret is, as in all things, is balance: Exercise, water, sleep, play, laughing and eating what makes you feel good – balance. Anyways, the only redemption for the South Beach diet are these tomatoes, and the recipe is as follows:
Find some reasonably ripe tomatoes, I like the vine-ripened ones as they are deep red and very juicy. Halve them at their ‘waist’, add salt and pepper to the exposed tomato brains. I made a mixture of bread crumbs, dried oregano, salt & pepper, finely grated Parmesan and olive oil. I’ve never used proper measurements for this so your should be fine. Potential pitfalls are adding too much olive oil or using bread crumbs that are too fine and don’t bake evenly. After posting this the first time, my mom sent me the ‘real’ recipe: 1/2 cup parm, 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 2 cloves garlic, 2 tblsps evoo, s&p, fresh parsley, fresh basil; That sounds a lot better than mine. Scoop the mixture onto the tomato brains, sprinkle with a little extra Parmesan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes – gorgeous.
Once I let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, I carved it and re-assembled it on a huge platter with the rest of our meal. The sprouts were soft and moist all the way through, the potatoes were crisp and buttery, the tomatoes were inhaled and the chicken (which I mistakenly referred to as turkey at least 5 times through the evening) was moist and delicious.
After a dividing up leftovers and a quick kitchen cleaning, a slice of pumpkin pie (from a box) was well deserved. I’ve never made pie before, but I made the whip cream on this one, so that is redemption. In closing, a thanks is in order to all the Moms, Aunties and Grandmothers who have kept me fed every thanksgiving of my life – I have a new respect and am truly thankful for each of you.