Believe it or not, most Thanksgiving guests won’t remember your China pattern. Nor are they likely to recall that bottle of wine that you keep bragging about.
Want everyone to have a memorable experience? By all means, dust off your dinnerware and spend a few bucks on that 2008 vintage. But consider a few more important memory-makers while you’re at it.
Whether it’s baked, smoked or deep-fried, turkey is what it is. Your guests will only remember it if it’s dry and tough. (Quick! What was the best Thanksgiving turkey you ever ate? Exactly!) For a good bird, just follow these steps:
- Brine it (Clean the bird; place it in a gallon of vegetable stock, 1 cup Kosher salt, 1/2 cup Brown Sugar, 1 TB each of Rosemary, Sage and Thyme, and a gallon of cold water — for a day. Rinse and proceed with baking.)
- Bake it breast-side down. It won’t look like the bird on the cover of Martha Stewart’s magazine, but hers isn’t real anyway! Besides, who actually carves turkey at the table?
- Slice what you need. Leave the rest on the bone, covered. It’ll retain more moisture that way.
- Serve it with a damn good gravy. You get one chance. Don’t screw it up by using packaged stuff.
- Be an all-star cook. Use homemade cream of mushroom soup and fresh (or frozen) green beans for that tradition you acquired from the Campbell’s Soup company. The store-bought fried onions are fine.
- I can eat Brussels sprouts any way you serve them, but this roasted version with bacon and pomegranates has been known to win over the haters.
- Add some soul to your sweet potatoes.
The Kids’ Table
Want grown-ups to come back next year? Or, would you prefer that they blog about your rudeness? Seat them at the kids’ table and you’ll incur their wrath, as you should.
Who knows where your conversation will take you, but there’s always an opportunity to slip in some useless Thanksgiving trivia. Trust me, your guests will be talking about it (you) on their ride home.
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Call me un-American, but the worst thing about Thanksgiving for me is the leftovers. All but the desserts seem to crowd the refrigerators for days, with no available room for good stuff — like Anchor Steam’s annual Christmas ale, or seasonal hot tamales. But, I digress. On Black Friday I tend to go as far away from the traditional American turkey redux as possible. Thank goodness for soup season.
Asian Ramen Noodle Soup
2 qts – Vegetable or chicken stock
3 – garlic cloves, smashed
1 Bunch – Fresh Cilantro
1 TB – Black peppercorns
1 inch nub – Ginger, crushed
1/2 cup – Dry Sherry
Optional stock ingredients
1 – Kaffir lime leaf, roughly torn
Raw shrimp shells
6 pkgs – Ramen noodles, flavor packets discarded
Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil in a stockpot. Reduce heat to a light boil and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Strain, discarding all solids.
Return soup stock to a boil. Add noodles and cook 3-5 minutes, until tender. Serve immediately with your choice of toppings.
- London Broil, thinly sliced
- Stir-fried shrimp
- Roasted chicken
- Egg – fried or soft-boiled
- Fresh Basil
- Mung (bean) sprouts
- Green onions, chopped
- Mushrooms, fresh or sauteed
- Lime or Calamondin (Kalamansi) wedges
- Garlic Chile paste
- Sriracha sauce
- Hoisin sauce