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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


We were really busy this holiday weekend, and ended up doing a fair bit of running around and work around the house.  As a result, we weren't really all that jazzed about putting together a massive, nor even particularly fancy, Thanksgiving feast.

So, it was pretty modest.

We aren't the hugest meat eaters, and although we both enjoy turkey there was no way we'd be able to eat even the smallest mutant turkey you could buy, so we bought a small chicken.  It was only about a kilogram.

We bought it fresh on Saturday, and I soaked it in the fridge in a brine solution which was basically just water, salt, rosemary and a touch of brown sugar.

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After covering that with some cling film, I shoved that in my fridge and forgot about it until just a few hours before we wanted to eat.

At about 4 p.m. we took it out and drained it.  We decided NOT to have stuffing this year, because we had some serious amounts of starch at the table, so we were going for simple flavour-stuffing.  Many, many, many cooks and chefs will extol the use of a citrus fruit in the bird's cavity.  An orange or a lemon CAN impart some seriously delicious flavour, as well as add some much-appreciated moisture; particularly useful for those who are paranoid about under-cooking and end up over-cooking fowl.  However, I like to make a gravy out of the roast drippings, and don't really like all those sweet and tangy citrus flavours in something which I believe should be predominantly savoury.

So, we "stuffed" it with a very savoury mix of onion, shallot, garlic, and rosemary.

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I just used some bamboo sticks to sew it up, and then plopped it in my Le Creuset.  One of the most appreciated things I have in my kitchen, this truly awesome french oven was originally my Grandmother's, and I'm sure she had it for quite some time.  It is seriously used, but still works wonders.  It is probably the most valued cookware I have.  Anyway, I coated the bottom with a very small amount of vegetable oil, and then sprinkled some salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary on top.

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After that, she went into the oven at 375 degrees for about an hour and a quarter.

My wife and I prepared this meal pretty much equally, which was nice.  Although that is not very common in our household, it is truly festive, and nice to do for the holidays.  We sipped some wine and chopped vegetables while the chicken was in the oven.

We prepared some potatoes, and a small amount of sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts.  We boiled the potatoes, but steamed everything else.

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Each pan had a couple sprigs each of fresh rosemary.  When I use a very fresh herb, I like to incorporate it into everything I can.  Provided it would work well with that dish, I will either make it the dominant flavour (like the chicken) or simply a complementary flavour (like the sprouts).

Because brussels sprouts are hideously disgusting (as all things are from the cabbage family) in my opinion, simply steaming them was not enough.  If they were not next-to-inedible, then there would not be a plethora of recipes out there which call for adding a ton of supplementary flavour via saturated fat and sodium (i.e. bacon).  Needless to say, brussels sprouts and bacon go together like... boiled cabbage and ukrainian house-wives.  So, we opted for some heavy amounts of freshly-cracked black peppercorns, and a small chunk of pancetta di parma.  After getting to the point of "almost cooked" we removed the sprouts and tossed them in the pepper and pancetta for a couple minutes only.

As for the potatoes and sweet potatoes, we mashed 'em good.  My wife loves her potatoes, and she was in charge of those, so she went a little crazy and whipped 'em with some margarine.  Which was a little overkill in my opinion, because there was some serious fat in the gravy which was to come.

The chicken came out after pretty much exactly an hour and fifteen minutes, and measured exactly 180 degrees on the thermometer.  Funny how those weight-to-cooking-time ratios work well, eh?  Chicken was extremely moist and tender.  I'm not the biggest poultry fan, but it was pretty delicious.

Anyway, I took the bird out and put it on my cutting board, covering it tightly with foil, while I picked out the rosemary from the Le Creuset.

One of the most awesome things about that piece of bakeware is that because it's cast iron, you can put it right on the burner too.  So, after I got the rosemary out, I put it on medium-low, and started whisking in some corn-starch and some black pepper.  The result was one of the most delicious gravies I've ever had.  Fatty... for certain... but delicious.

Anyway, that was our modest Thanksgiving.  Among many of the other things for which I was thankful, one was the opportunity to use my Christmas present from last year - my beautiful Williams Sonoma french provençale table linens.

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Tellement beau, n'est-ce pas?

So, that's it.  Here was the final setting: 

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You can see there was not a lot of food there for Thanksgiving, but considering there were only two of us, that was a veritable feast!  Also - don't judge my placemats... I do need to get some new ones which will better complement the other linens...  :)

1 comment:

  1. Love the tablecloth and the cozy look and feel that it gives the dining area. Also love that Grandma's Le Creuset was part of Thanksgiving for you. I, too, used her Le Creuset for baking the sweet potatoes for our dinner.