Food Snob Chronicles — Become an all-star Thanksgiving host in five easy steps

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.

The turkey
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.

The sides

  • 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 sweet ending
You must serve the classics — Pumpkin and Apple. Throw in a new dessert.

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.

The stories
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

Asian Ramen Noodle Soup is fun, customizable and hits the spot.

Asian Ramen Noodle Soup is fun, customizable and it hits the spot.

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.

Topping ideas

  • London Broil, thinly sliced
  • Stir-fried shrimp
  • Roasted chicken
  • Egg – fried or soft-boiled
  • Fresh Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Mung (bean) sprouts
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Mushrooms, fresh or sauteed
  • Lime or Calamondin (Kalamansi) wedges
  • Garlic Chile paste
  • Sriracha sauce
  • Hoisin sauce

Comments

  1. Adam, I love that you bust out the Ramen soup noodles the day after Thanksgiving. That’s an indication that you’re truly you’re own person and know who you are. How does your family feel about your self-awareness? LOL!

  2. So true! Who remembers the turkey, unless it’s dry. I do remember a stuffing my mom made one year. It contained an abundance of fresh sage.

  3. Truth, truth and more truth, as per usual. We don’t mind the leftovers. In fact, Hubby may enjoy them more than the original meal … flavors blending and all that. That being said, I do like the idea of ramen in the days after the glut, especially when made your way.

  4. Now why didn’t I have this post 30 years ago! I’m off the hook this year…not turning one red finger or heating up any oven…it’s all about crashing other houses for the birds!! xo

    • If you’re in my hood, stop by. Whilst everyone else is eating turkey, I’ll be gobbling down the Hebert’s whole boneless chicken stuffed with crawfish cornbread dressing. Mmm. Mmm!

  5. Thank God we don’t have Thanksgiving and all the associated culinary pressure. I’m saving myself for Christmas. And no, I won’t be doing a great big roast turkey when the temperature’s over 90F. The leftovers from the giant family celebration (14 of us) here in Chiconia will be quite bad enough. I’m with you on never enough dessert leftovers, though… Chocolate mousse, trifle, Christmas pudding icecream, Christmas cake, pavlova… it’ll all go.

  6. Forget the turkey….sausage cranberry dressing and some whipped sweet potatoes are all I need!
    Or perhaps I’ll fall completely off of the Thanksgiving wagon and go Asian…your dish sounds fabulous!

  7. All excellent Thanksgiving suggestions…of course, especially the dessert part. I would have a hard time making just one decision for toppings on this dish but I’m suddenly craving that thinly sliced London broil. Yes, that’s what I would pick, no wait maybe the shrimp.

  8. Kate Chiconi says:

    BTW, I’m liking your new look, but it seems a little more serious. Please tell me you’re not going to go all editorial on us?

    • adamjholland says:

      Thanks, Kate. I’ve been editorial since day one. There is much work to do on the new site (not all of it serious) and I’m really glad you like it.

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