Well, it’s snowing. More accurately, the snow seems to be mixed in with heavy amounts of soggy rain and pretty strong winds, at least up here on the north end of San Juan Island. But I hear it’s snowing in Seattle too, at least on top of Queen Anne and other high spots. For readers outside the Pacific Northwest, this is fairly unusual for us — typical after-Thanksgiving weather is either crisp-cold-dry or (more usually) soggy-wet. But we’ll see if it sticks. Whatever happens, the driveway (I live on a private unpaved road) is definitely making the transition from "soggy" to "swampy." Thank goodness for the Land Rover – my other car would just sink and wallow.
I’m recovering from Thanksgiving and a two week cold/flu which leaves me oddly uninterested in food, so this is also the first Thanksgiving on record where I actually lost weight. But it’s time to start making turkey sandwiches before the shelves in the fridge bow under the strain of all the leftovers. Friends and family came up for a first island Thanksgiving this year, bringing an accompanying dish or making one here. But somehow none of them took leftovers with them on the exodus south.
The turkey was a nice 15 pound free range bird, which I was able to find locally – a nice surprise. I shortened the brining interval this year; not quite as much as Alton Brown’s six-hour brine, but I started it late the night before this year and gave it a good 12 hours in the brine. The brine, as with last year, was two gallons of straight salt/water, with another gallon of apple cider added and a cup of bourbon. To this I added black peppercorns, star anise, a couple of juniper berries, red pepper flakes, and a few bay leaves. It seems to work quite nicely, and given the temperatures lately, I kept it out on the deck in a cooler and it worked well.
Earlier in the week, I’d made a double chicken stock, and reduced by 3/4s this formed the basis of our gravy, seasoned and slightly thickened via the slurry method. I’d also made a cranberry orange sauce (with lots of fresh ginger), as well as a cranberry-tomato chutney. The latter was everyone’s favorite, and I’m kind of wondering why I bother with a sweet version every year. The chutney (which came from Allrecipes), also makes a great turkey sandwich later on, so I quadrupled the recipe and made several pint jars’ worth.
My friends brought garden potatoes, cole slaw, roasted garlic mashed sweet potatoes, and a north African sauteed carrot dish, and Scott made a cranberry sausage cornbread dressing for the turkey (no stuffing the turkey!). I complemented this with a salad of sliced golden and red beets, marinated in sherry vinegar & walnut oil, with blue cheese crumbles and Beth’s glazed spicy walnuts. Served with 1998 Dom Perignon (this marked the end of my "month of Champagne" birthday) and the 2000 Mon Coeur from J.L. Chave, the dinner was spectacular and very tasty. A very nice holiday at the new place.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.