Have you put your Thanksgiving schedule together? What are you serving? Who’s coming? Do you have dozens of count-down and to-do lists for shopping, cleaning and prep work? What? No? Neither do I. I am not quite ready to think about Thanksgiving, as much as I like a good leftover turkey sandwich. Surely there is still plenty of time to think about centerpieces and green beans and stuffing and pumpkin-themed desserts.
I have given minimal thought to the tablecloth, and polishing some of the ancestral silver. Red and white tablecloth or cheerful harvest yellow print? I’ve idly mulled over dessert ideas, and have even ordered some individual tart pans, just in case I try that Pomegranate Cranberry tart recipe I saw someplace. (https://dessertfirstgirl.com/2018/11/cranberry-pomegranate-curd-tart.html#) I’ve bookmarked the recipe on my laptop. I hope. And wine. I’m wondering if we should have some sparkling wine this year instead of the usual (predictable) Beaujolais Villages. Maybe we should have both.
But, like Katie Scarlett O’Hara, I will think about that another day. Because we still have a few more dinners to slog through before the Big Day. Twelve more dinners. Pizza will be the answer a couple of times; we really have to put on our thinking caps for the rest.
Mindful that we should be trying to leave a smaller carbon footprint behind as we make our way in the world, we are eschewing private jet travel, and eating less red meat. So we are experimenting with poultry dishes. We are always happy to see what variation on chicken we can think of next; roasted, fried, stir-fried, in a salad, with rice, soup, stewed in a pot, jerked, kabobbed, Parmesan, marsala-ed, schnitzled. Mr. Friday has a colleague who lives a charmed life in Portugal. He is always eating delectable local foods, and regaling us with his adventures in fine dining. He is like a character in A Year in Provence or the Durrells of Corfu. I fully expect him to go truffle hunting next. He shared this pheasant recipe with Mr. Friday, which we prepared last Sunday. (Actually, Mr. Friday did all the work, I sat at the kitchen counter and provided witty banter.)
(This is more of an outline)
Bird, let’s say a pheasant size, cut in pieces
4 small onions
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
Cream (we used a pint of heavy cream)
1.5 deciliters of Port wine (3/4 of a cup) or a similar wine (somehow sweet and with 18-20% alcohol)
Use a covered, oven-proof casserole pan.
On the stove top, melt the butter, real butter and be generous.
Brown the chicken pieces in the melted butter, turning them, until the skin is golden brown.
Then, take them out.
Replace them by the finely chopped onions, stirring until translucent.
Pour the wine over the onions. And continue to stir for a few minutes.
Add the chicken.
Cover with cream, which should cover all the pieces.
Then add the garlic (smashed, not chopped), the bay leaf, the thyme, salt and pepper as you prefer.
Put in oven, let’s say something around 220º C (425° F ) and let it cook for around 40 minutes.
You can use different birds from the same family, like chicken, quail or partridge.
It works even with commercial chicken.
Thyme is very important – be generous using it.
We served the pheasant with mashed potatoes (with generous lashings of butter) and asparagus and green salad. Also with candles and an amusing, yet modest, red wine. It was a revelation that our grocery store even carried pheasant! And as tasty as this dinner was, I think we could have pulled it off with chicken just fine.
We enjoyed the novelty of cooking pheasant, but it was shockingly expensive: $21 for a 2 1/2 pound bird. While still less expensive than a restaurant meal, it was an eye-opener. Last night I tried this Food52 Chicken Pot Pie recipe, which I prepared with chicken I prudently (and frugally) already had in the freezer. On sale, too. I think this recipe will adapt nicely for leftover turkey. https://food52.com/recipes/81853-best-chicken-pot-pie-recipe. And I was delighted to see that our boring old middle-of-the-road grocery store carried the essential chicken-flavored Better Than Bouillon called for in the recipe, which I can see will have many uses later on this winter when we are searching around for new poultry recipes.
Polish the silver and iron your table linens this weekend. Next week we’ll get to the heavy lifting for Thanksgiving.
“What a marvelous resource soup is for the thrifty cook – it solves the ham-bone and lamb-bone problems, the everlasting Thanksgiving turkey, the extra vegetables.”
“If you think about a Thanksgiving dinner, it’s really like making a large chicken.”