Sunday, November 28, 2010

Festive Favorites

When you find yourself away from family and friends in not only a new place but a different country, it's comforting to spend the day cooking something so traditionally American as a Thanksgiving dinner. Let me tell you, the fact that I put on sunscreen in the morning and cooked a homey, stick-to-your-ribs meal later that night is a surreal experience for this Midwestern girl.

Because we were cooking a dinner for two, we went with a chicken instead of a turkey and halved most of the other dishes. I tried out some new recipes and thought it pertinent to share them here because many of them would be perfect for Christmas as well.

First up, the chicken, which was grilled according to Steven Raichlen's always informative and thoroughly explained method of indirect grilling. It seems daunting at first but really it's just a matter of seasoning it well, chucking it on the grill, and trying really, really hard not to constantly lift up the cover to revel in the golden, crackling goodness. A turkey works just as well and makes a lot of sense because the bird isn't hogging the oven, leaving plenty of space for sides. A drip pan is inserted in the bottom of the grill to catch the juices which are essential for making gravy. Whole birds are fantastic on the grill year-round and I urge you to give it a shot.

I am a stuffing fanatic - surprising since I grew up eating the grossest stuffing ever. When I realized, as an adult, the many different ways that stuffing can be delicious I was hooked. This year I tried a recipe from The New York Times: Chantarelle & Pear Bread Stuffing. Combining mushrooms, pears, pancetta, plenty of fresh herbs and toasted bread, I adored this recipe. I didn't think that pears and mushrooms would go together but I was wrong. The pancetta imparted a savory, slightly smoky note but didn't overwhelm the other flavors.

I can't say enough about the Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes that I blogged about last year which are always a surefire winner. They can be made the night before then popped into the oven an hour before dinner will be served.

I was worried that I wasn't going to find any cranberries in the store here but I did! They were frozen which was fine by me. I poured them into a saucepan, still frozen, and added the zest of one orange, the juice of half an orange, a teaspoon of grated ginger, a 1/4 cup cranberry juice, a 1/2 cup raw sugar, and a sprig of fresh mint. I simmered it all until the berries popped and the sauce thickened. I threw out the mint when it was done and stored it in the fridge to cool. Delicious.

For something green, I simply steamed green beans, tossed them with melted butter, toasted slivered almonds and some fine sea salt.

I made a pie from another recipe in the New York Times which was over-the-top good, but I am going to tweak it a bit, make it again, and blog about it soon. It was a dessert to swoon over.

If you have any additional links to holiday recipes, please share them in the comments. Cheers!


Anonymous said...

Looks like our two-person spread. We smoked the turkey legs and wings, ground the remaining meat for the freezer and made stock out of the bones and neck. Would've been much easier (and equally as delicious) had we gone the chicken route. Like the idea! Looking forward to your pie.



Erin, A Crafty Lass said...

Hi Heather! I love smoked anything so I'm sure your dinner for two was super tasty. Happy holidays.