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Winging Thanksgiving

November 26, 2013

I’m in no position to be handing out advice about Thanksgiving. My inlaws are arriving today, and we’ll be having dinner at our place on Thursday.

Officially, I have no idea what I’ll be serving.

The only thing to which I’ve even given a passing thought is a fresh cranberry relish, for which I have some locally grown organic cranberries and an organic valencia orange.

Most likely, with only four adults and two children, we’ll be eating my favorite roast chicken and saving the turkey for the big family gathering Sunday in Connecticut. This year my cousin will bring the cheese, and maybe I can still find a few exciting bottles of wine for the festivities.

But if I didn’t have any last minute ideas that could help you out in your holiday preparations, what kind of food blogger would I be?

Granted, most of these are recycled from the past. But dammit, holidays are about traditions. Even in the rarest of years when Thanksgiving falls of Chanukah.

1) You may go searching for the “perfect wine”. Just know that it doesn’t exist. Still, that shouldn’t stop you from your quest. If you are a wine novice, there are a few marketing traps you should watch out for. Plus, I’ve got a quick primer about how to talk to clerks at a wine store to get exactly what you are looking for in a bottle. Both of those topics are wrapped up in this little post.

2) You may be eating ham and not turkey. That ham may be a HoneyBaked Ham. If that’s the case, once again, I implore you not to heat it. Ever. Not even a little bit. Just let that baby sit out and come to room temperature gradually like God intended.

What? And serve your guests cold ham? No. Heavens no. But you let it sit out at room temperature, to take the chill of the joint of meat.

“But it should be warm!” No. No it shouldn’t. If you want a warm ham, you should not have gotten a HoneyBaked. If you put this thing in the oven, the perfect balance that you paid a premium to receive will be lost forever. The ham will sweat out some of its water. This will make the meat both saltier and less juicy. More importantly, that magical crackling honey-based crust will melt into the spiral slices and you’ll lose that magnificent textural contrast.

If you are going to have one of these hams, I strongly encourage you to read this now.

3) Should you get a chance to diverge from whatever stuffing is traditional for your family’s annual holiday meal, I suggest you try this one. Every year, this is the best part of the meal, and it continues to be the best stuffing I’ve ever had.

The recipe says that you could just eat this on its own, accompanied by a glass of sparkling wine. And that is totally true. Not only is it a meal unto itself, it’s a better meal than most people ever get to experience.

4) My friend chef Cory makes Brussels sprouts into flavor bombs. That’s a good thing. I’ve made this. It’s fantastic. If I could get my wife and kids to eat Brussels, I’d cook this all week. And it’s a perfect side dish for a turkey dinner. You know, if you might be looking for such a thing at this point in time.

Maybe you should at least check it out here.

5) Before signing off, I want to put in one last plug for racy white wines from the Finger Lakes. They are a fantastic food pairing. Seriously. Selecting wines for Thanksgiving dinner isn’t rocket science. But fruit-forward wines with good acidity are particularly food friendly. And the Rieslings and Gewurztraminers from the Finger Lakes totally qualify.

The trick is to look for vintage dates. Things like tannin and acidity diminish as the wine ages in the bottle, so look for the wines with the most current vintage dates. Unless someone is selling a nouveau as a gimmick, you won’t see anything from NY labeled 2013. But there could be some from 2012. Don’t buy anything older than 2011.

Here’s more on the Thanksgiving whites I’ve had in the past, in case you want the full story.

Now I’ve got to start drawing up my own list. Really, the only thing I’m concerned about is the mob scene at the supermarket. The important part is getting to spend the time with family, not the presence of a dozen side items that everyone expects, but nobody eats.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2013 11:09 am

    Are you pushing that abomination of a stuffing recipe on people again this year? Why don’t you just shove a loaf of bread and a can of fruit salad up your turkey’s arse? I am joking. Sort of.

  2. November 26, 2013 12:10 pm

    It takes 4 clicks (3 pageviews for you, 1 for The Aperitif) to get to the stuffing recipe which, I agree, is an abomination. 3 sticks of butter? 1 cup of liquor? All for 1 1/2 lb of bread crumbs? It’s hard to believe this could produce anything but a soupy disaster and certainly not the standard crispy stuffing shown on the page. Isn’t it time to let us in on the joke?

  3. November 26, 2013 12:14 pm

    I just re-read your 2009 post which said you were about to make the stuffing, but did you ever report on your results? Or were you sensibly persuaded to switch to the classic recipe I recommended to you on my comment back then?

  4. November 26, 2013 11:53 pm

    On the maligned stuffing – read the comments on the first link you follow to read my comments and suggestions after I made it. The short version is it was excellent.

  5. albanylandlord permalink
    November 27, 2013 12:02 am

    For thanksgiving, how about a goose? Much smaller than a turkey. I am cooking dinner for two and I saw Price Chopper had frozen gooses. Sold. Can you imagine how good that stuffing is going to be with Goose fat/juices? OMG. Plus leftover fat for future endeavors. I have made it before and although everyone shakes their head at my strange food choices, One and all liked it. Even kids. Its just good, not weird.

  6. Susan L permalink
    December 4, 2013 5:38 pm

    I agree with your recommendation of FLX Guwertz. and Reislings. I’ll add that the DRY Reislings are far better than the other versions. Have you ever tried Rkatsiteli? It’s an old Eastern European-style white with a similar snappiness. Dr. Frank makes a good one, but McGregor Vineyard makes a Rkatsiteli-Sereksiya that is superb with poultry. Must buy it directly from the vineyard though.

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