Posts About ‘Thanksgiving’

Turkey Confit with Roasted Beet Salad

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

It’s been just over a week since Thanksgiving and I’m just about recovered from 17 hours of cooking over three days for thirty minutes of consumption. Clearly I have issues, but once again, it was totally worth it and I hope that you and yours had a fantastic day, however you chose to spend it.

Last year I tried my hand at preparing turkey three ways by going all Dexter on my turkey. It was so well received that my wife asked if I could make this our family Thanksgiving tradition after over five years of major overhauls to the holiday menu. I agreed in principle to prepare turkey three ways, but being me I couldn’t leave well enough alone.

Thanksgiving in our house is an intimate affair, as I usually only have four to six people to feed. So, it gives me the ability to go a little insane, culinarily speaking. If I had to cook for more than that, I would in all likelihood revert to a more traditional, family style meal.

The madness started a month or two before Thanksgiving. I wanted to keep the same three ways I prepared the turkey, but I wanted to be a little more playful in how I presented the meal. I decided that my three preparations would be presented to my family as breakfast (turkey sausage served on a waffle with a cranberry maple syrup), lunch (turkey confit with a roasted beet salad and a pumpkin seed vinaigrette), and dinner (turkey wellington served with green beans, duck fat fingerling potatoes, and, of course, cranberry sauce).

I bought new plates just for the day. I labored over every detail, every ingredient. I wrote a game plan covering the three days of preparation it would require to make every element of every dish from scratch. Finally, I made a list, checked it twice and then spent the GDP of a small island nation at Whole Paycheck.

It was a crazy idea, crazy delicious. I’ll probably never do anything like that again, but it was so worth it just to hear to oohs and aahs as I presented everyone with their dinner plates that night.

And, of the three presentations, my clear favorite was lunch. I’ve recently become enamored with beets and combined with the turkey confit, pumpkin seed vinaigrette, and pomegranate seeds it was a wonderfully flavorful and playful dish that I will likely make again all on its own.

It is a little time consuming to prepare, but this is something you can prepare in advance for a crowd or make a lot of and have as leftovers a few times.

If you’re looking for something new and interesting, I hope you’ll consider giving this a try.

Turkey Confit with Roasted Beet Salad


Cure (about 6 turkey legs and wings)

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 25 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 bay leaves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme


  • Cured turkey legs and wings
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Turkey stock, to cover

Beet Preparation

  • 2 bunches of red beets (about six in total)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, roughly chopped
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • olive oil

Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons shallot, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds


  1. Mix the cure ingredients together and set aside; wash the turkey legs and wings and pat dry
  2. Liberally apply the cure, wrap tightly in plastic, then refrigerate overnight, or up to 12 hours
  3. Remove from refrigerator, unwrap and wash off cure under cold water
  4. Place the turkey in a cooking vessel large enough to hold them, then add garlic, cracked peppercorns, sprigs of thyme, and bay leaves; cover with turkey stock (or, if you want to be more traditional, use canola oil)
  5. Put in 300 degree oven for about 3 hours until cooked through and falling apart
  6. While turkey confit is in the oven, begin prepping the beets. Scrub the beets clean, cut off the tops and bottoms so they sit flat and arrange on a sheet of aluminum foil.
  7. Drizzle olive oil over the beets; add the garlic, shallots, orange zest and juice, and salt and pepper, then wrap them up in the aluminum foil and put them in the oven for about one and half to two hours, or until fork tender
  8. In a nonreactive bowl, add the honey, kosher salt, shallot, garlic, orange juice, and white wine vinegar and whisk to combine.
  9. Begin drizzling in the canola oil and whisk rapidly until an emulsion is achieved, then add the pumpkin seed oil, and finally the pumpkin seeds
  10. Set the dressing aside until ready to dress the beets (the dressing will separate, simply whisk back together before using it)
  11. When the turkey is done, remove it from the liquid, separate the meat from the fat and bone. Shred the meat with two forks, just as you would do with pulled pork; add a few tablespoons of the hot liquid to the shredded meat, cover with foil, and set aside
  12. Allow the beets to cool slightly, then while running them under cold water remove the outer layer and dice (gloves are a good idea, as your hands will turn purplish red otherwise)
  13. After the diced beets have cooled slightly, dress them with some of the pumpkin seed vinaigrette; let the roasted beet salad rest for 10-15 minutes, then taste and dress again with the vinaigrette, if necessary, to taste
  14. Plate this by spooning a serving of beets onto the middle of a plate, then arrange some of the confit on top of the beets and garnish, if desired, with pomegranate seeds


Tuesday, November 20th, 2012


OK, in preparation for Thanksgiving I’ve reviewed hundreds of recipes, ideas, tips, how-to’s, help lines and more. Here are the links that you might find useful.

– A whole lotta menus for 2 to 20 peeps (Gourmet)

– Overall Thanksgiving Guide includes Vegetarian and Gluten Free (The Daily Meal)

– Recipes you can make ahead (Saveur)

– Food & Wine’s Ultimate Holiday Guide

Every Stuffing Recipe You’ll Ever Need (The Daily Meal)

– Except this one

Veganizing Thanksgiving (FOOD 52)

– Gluten Free Ideas

– One more cranberry

– The Easy Thanksgiving Menu (Chow)

– Wait, you need even more recipes? (Foodista)

– Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon and Maple (Bon Appetit)

– Bryan Voltaggio’s go-to cranberry sauce (TastingTable)

– Sweet-Potato Casserole

– Good looking dessert: Apple Crostata with Spiced Caramel Sauce LINK

– A FREE downloadable digital guide with a lot of helpful how-to’s here (Tasting Table)

– Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving Rules, an excellent video

– The Dry-Brined Turkey (Food 52)

– How To Carve (A Chicken, But It’s The Same for a) Turkey. Video

– Why You Should Spatchcock Your Turkey (CHOW)

– The Truth About Brining Turkey (Serious Eats)

– Steam the turkey? The best TV chef instructor in history does. How?

– Table setting ideas (The Daily Meal)

– The Thanksgiving Timeline, a stress free step-by-step checklist (Epicurious)

– A complete guide to roasting the perfect bird (Epicurious)

– Thanksgiving Help Line (NY Times)

– The Thanksgiving-erator, an interactive thingie (NY Times)

Wine: 4 Top Viogniers for Roast Turkey

– There’s an APP for that…

– Recipes, music ideas, wine & more

>>> I think this is THE perfect gift.

Anyone else need a nap already?

My Thanksgiving Meal Hero

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Thanksgiving is always a big holiday for my family.

For the last long while, we’ve hosted every year. It makes sense when you combine us having a large enough house with my love of cooking. Plus, holidays are always better when you are surrounded by your family and I look forward to it every year.

As part of the FiOS Ambassador Program, they’ve asked me to share a contest they are running and to share who is my personal Thanksgiving Meal Hero.

She may be the easy answer, but honestly my wife is my meal hero when it comes to Thanksgiving for one simple reason. She stays out of the kitchen while I’m cooking and then does all the dishes.

This may seem like a small thing, but I’m not known for keeping the kitchen clean when I cook and with all the family over that leads to plenty of pots, pans and dishes.

While I get to plop down in front of the TV and watch football after our feast, she is always in the kitchen doing the dishes and to me that is being a huge hero!

Laura, I love you and thank you for being my hero every Thanksgiving.

Now, for the business side of this post, a great contest and a way to help give back this Thanksgiving.

Verizon FiOS has partnered with the Food Network to promote the Thanksgiving Meal Hero Campaign in association with Share Our Strength / No Kid Left Behind to donate up to 150,000 meals this Thanksgiving season.

By participating you can win a chance to tour the Food Network Studios in NYC!

The contest will work like this:

  • You submit a 75 – 200 word story and photo about who makes your Thanksgiving meal special (their Hero) and how they stay connected with them via TV, Internet and Phone throughout the year.
  • Share your story with your social networks and ask them to rate it
  • The top 25 rated entries will go before a panel from Verizon and Food Network to determine the ultimate winner
  • By rating stories, Verizon and the Food Network will donate up to 150,000 meals to hungry kids in the U.S. through Share Our Strength/No Kid Behind
  • By registering to vote you will also be entered into the weekly sweepstakes where a random selection will determine who receives a package of Food Network cookbooks/supplies and a tablet device.
  • You can enter daily by coming back to the site and rating at least one story.

In addition to this there will be a Thanksgiving Live airing on Sunday, November 18th at noon eastern on the Food Network.

Disclosure – I am a compensated member of the FiOS Ambassador Program. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Cast of Dads 47 – Deuce in the Dryer

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

In case you are not already a faithful subscriber, I also do a parenting podcast with a great group of friends who are all dads.

The show is called Cast of Dads and we try to get together every couple of weeks to talk about any topics that are on our minds. Since our kids range in age from just walking all the way up to out of college, we’ve got a variety of opinions about everything.

This is the first show since Thanksgiving and of course we talked about what we ate, football and how our kids are doing.

Episode 47: Deuce in the Dryer

As with every episode, we provide show notes with links to all the topics we discuss on each episode. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes. Also, please leave us a review in iTunes!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. ChapmanJeffrey SassMax KalehoffMichael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.


Digital Dads NFL Pre-Game: Week 12

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

"If you drop one more pass, no Pumpkin Pie for you!!"

Happy Thanksgiving football fans. Today, of course is the day we celebrate some religiously persecuted folks and their slow but deliberate destruction of the indigenous peoples on this continent. Or something like that. Frankly, the whole thing is a bit fuzzy. All I know is that we eat a lot of Turkey, fight with our families and get completely blitzed. Oh yeah, there is also football. Three games this year, and for the first time in a long time – they don’t suck. How about that?

There is a lot of parity in the NFL this year, which probably accounts for my 101-59 (63%) record on the year. Last week I managed to pull a 10-4 week, but plenty of people at work made me look the fool with their 12-2 picks. Whatever. This week we return to 16 games, bye weeks are finally completely over (I called them over in week 10, forgetting that there were byes in week 11.) There are so many teams at 6-4 and 5-5 that it’s hard to get a good outlook for the playoffs. Teams like the Patriots could falter, while the Bills could wake the fuck up. What about the Lions? On a decline, they bounced back last week against the Panthers. You still in their camp?

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I’m going to theme todays post, just cause I can. Since this is the most awesome NFL column on the entire internets (besides TMQ) I can do that. On a side note, I’m selling some original Xbox games. Someone buy them. On another side note, I’m not making any picks this week. Instead, I’m cooking a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, 16 different and tasty dishes, laid out on the table for you to enjoy. So grab a fork, grab some peppermint schnapps and a glass of cheap ass wine. It’s time for Thanksgiving dinner!

Turkey (White Meat)

Green Bay at Detroit Line: +7.0
The undefeated Packers roll into Motown to face off with the faltering Lions. At one point, I had predicted that both these teams would be undefeated going into this game. Wouldn’t that have been something? Well, the Lions instead decided to start losing games through interceptions and terrible penalties. Last week they seemed to turn around in the second half and scoring enough points to beat the scrappy Panthers. This week however they face off against the best offense in the league. Sure, they’ll score some points and probably early, but I don’t see them ever holding a lead or winning the game. However, this is going to be a great game on the offensive side of the ball for sure. If Stafford makes the mistakes he made last week though, expect the Packers to really run away with the game. That defense, while allowing a lot of points, is unforgiving when it comes to taking advantage of turnovers. Packers to win on the road.

Honey Baked Ham

San Francisco at Baltimore Line: -4.5
A win here would be so freaking sweet for the Niners. They are headed directly for the playoffs and an East coast win against a tough team would solidify that quest. Of course, they’ve already beaten the Lions, so they’ve had a tough test. The Ravens present a different test though, but I’m not sure what it is. The Ravens run defense has been suspect of late, and the Niners run game is the best in the league. The evolution of Crabtree and Alex Smith into a dynamic duo has been fun to watch. This game also features the match-up of Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh. Which brother will win? I think it’ll once again (for the Ravens) come down to the offense, which has sputtered lately. They came alive against the Bengals just long enough to put the game away, but fought the whole time. The Niners are much better than the Bengals and this is put up or shut up time. I think the Niners put up. Niners to win on the road. Sweet.

Mashed Potatoes

Miami at Dallas Line: -7.0 UPSET SPECIAL!!
As if Thanksgiving day isn’t interesting enough with the other two games, this one is mashed right in the middle. A buttery and delicious pairing that four weeks ago we wouldn’t have given one blink about. However, the Dolphins are on a three game tear, and they are looking good doing it. Last week they plastered the Bills, while the Cowboys had to take their drama to overtime to beat the Redskins. Romo looked like he does on paper and played a good game, but the defense let the Redskins stay in the game. Matt Moore is out for some revenge against the team that drafted and waived him, but I also said the Bills would revenge against the Cowboys and they got pistol whipped. The Dolphins are playing solid defense, and this is their chance to prove that they aren’t sucking for Luck. Matt Moore could do well to land himself a starting job. So I’m taking the Dolphins to mash the Cowboys, if only by a small margin. Dolphins to upset on the road.

Turkey (Dark Meat)

Chicago at Oakland, 4:05 Line: -4.5
Do no underestimate the Raiders. While they are still back and forth on defense, they are in no way a team that should be overlooked. And yeah, a 6-5 record and the Broncos biting at their heels isn’t indicative of a full playoff ready run. The offense is starting to seriously click with Carson Palmer (go figure.) Bad news for the Bears, Jay Cutler is out, probably for the rest of the season. So backup Caleb Hanie is ready to take over the reigns. But wait, what’s this? There are reports that the Bears are looking at newly release Kyle Orton. That is not a vote of confidence in the young Hanie. In fact, it’s a bit of an insult to both Hanie and Cutler. Even though Orton has a history with the Bears, it’s too late to bring in a new QB. Hanie knows the system. We’ll see how he does against the Raiders I suppose. Plus, there are other teams higher on the waiver wire that will get first crack at Orton. More on that in a second. This game is going to be a dark, violent, evil affair down there in the pit of the Colosseum. I’m taking the Raiders to prevail in the darkness.


New York at New Orleans Line: -7.0
Here’s a game that really matters this week. Both teams playoff hopes are hanging in the balance and they desperately need a win to push them towards the top. The Giants looked weird last week, taking a loss off a late fumble by Eli Manning. Not sure how he didn’t see that coming. An off week for the Saints should breathe new life into an offense that hasn’t been as explosive this year as it has been in previous years. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been good just not crazy good. The Giants pass rush and run defense is going to be the key here, which means Manning needs to sustain drives to give his defense a proper rest. I think he’ll have trouble doing that. I’m taking the Saints to win at home.


New England at Philadelphia Line: +3.0
Every meal on Thanksgiving needs a big pile of brown slop to pour on top right? For me, the gravy is the slow decline of the Eagles season after Vick got a huge contract. Yeah, they got some new life last week and Vince Young was able to pull of an improbable win that he probably shouldn’t have. However, who cares? This is about the mega love the media (save for yours truly) gave the Eagles and Vick. I’m glad they suck, cause I love being right and I haven’t liked this team from the start. Yes, McCoy is having a killer season, and he’s going to run at will against the Patriots, who prefer to allow as many points as humanly possible before scoring more points than the other team. The gravy is when the Eagles lose this game and are put away for good, way out of contention for the playoffs and then the media can shut the fuck up about this team. Patriots to win.


Cleveland at Cincinnati Line: -7.5
Gah. Who cares? The Browns suck! My Dawgs did everything they could to lose that game last week, but still won thanks to terrible play calling by Jack Del Rio and the Jags. They should have lost, they deserved to lose and keep getting minor accolades for winning. The defense has sparks of greatness and can certainly contain the run, but Haden has as many penalty yards as great plays. He’s young and makes mistakes. The running game has been crap since Hillis went out with his mystery hammy injury, though Obyganna (whatever) hasn’t been half bad. The Bengals meanwhile came real close to beating the Ravens last week and where Ponder is a good rookie who loses and Tebow is a terrible rookie who wins, Dalton is a good rookie who wins. He makes smart decisions, accurate passes and only the loss of AJ Green last week (in my estimation) kept the Bengals from winning the game. Dalton needs that deep threat. This week though, all he would need is a dog who can catch a football. Bengals to win.3

Canned Cranberry Sauce

Minnesota at Atlanta Line: -9.5
Where Tebow has his constant detractors while he is winning games, Ponder seems to have nothing but love and good happy feelings as he’s losing games. Why? Cause he’s not spouting Jesus love in the locker room after games? Or because he’s a more accurate passer? Either way, he’s still making plenty of rookie mistakes and the defense is doing all they can to keep games close. The Vikings should have beaten the Raiders last week, but didn’t. They just couldn’t keep Ponder from making some crucial errors, but hey, he’s a rookie right? Bullshit. This week they go dome to dome to play the Falcons, who had a tough go of it last week, but seemed in control the whole game. The Falcons need every win they can get if they want to beat out the Saints for the NFC South crown. I don’t think the Vikings will get in their way too much, unless Ponder suddenly turns into not a rookie. Falcons to win at home.

Candied Yams

Carolina at Indianapolis Line: +4.0
At first I was like, “hmm, the Colts need to win one game this season right? This could be the one. Coming in after a bye week, they could be raring to go.” Then I remembered that they truly do suck major balls. The Panthers are playing well, and in the rookie QB conversation Cam Newton is right there at the top. But some serious defensive woes and his offensive line keeping him on the run have kept this team from reaching their true potential. Against the Colts though, they are going to look like gods. The Colts have failed to slow down any runners this season, so I expect Cam and Jonathan Stewart to put up huge rushing yards against the Colts. Hell, they can just run the whole game and suck up time. At least that half of the game will be fun to watch. Panthers to win on the road.

Green Beans

Houston at Jacksonville Line: +3.5
Just so you know, this is the last game I’m writing about this week. Yeah, some kind of order right? For the first time in, well, ever the Texans are all but assured a playoff berth at the top of the division. But they have to keep up their winning ways and hope they don’t falter with Leinart at the helm. We all thought they would when Andre Johnson went out, they didn’t. When Arian Foster was out for a while, we thought they were dead in the water again, but Tate stepped up. I think this is a well coached team that has a solid chance at winning in the first round. So this week, Leinart gets a moderately easy refresher with the Jags. They lost to the Browns last week. The Browns! They suck. Texans to win.


Washington at Seattle Line: -4.5
The Seahawks beat the Ravens. Do you remember that? While they have no chance at the playoffs, they followed that up with a whipping of the Rams. On the other side of the ball, the Redskins can’t decide who they want to hold the ball under center. That, and the fact that Shanahan still likes making dumb ass time management decisions and challenges ultimately dooms this team. Grossman played well against the Cowboys, but once again their secondary was almost nonexistent, letting Romo do whatever he wanted. Yeah, the Seahawks don’t have that kind of offense, but they do have a consistent running game and a strong run defense. I think they shut down the Redskins offense, who certainly don’t travel well, and win at home. That’s what I think.

Tossed Salad

Buffalo at NY Jets Line: -8.5
The 5-5 Bills, who have been losing like a bunch of chumps lately ride into New York (New Jersey) to meet the 5-5 Jets who have been losing like a bunch of chumps lately. There is nothing spectacular about this game. It’s a toss up as to who is going to play just good enough to win. Where the Jets defense was once undefeatable, the Bills offense was just as strong. Now, they both are looking lethargic as Sanchez and Fitzpatrick are proving they are not elite quarterbacks and probably never will be. Thanks to some clever negotiating, Fitzpatrick has his huge contract, then he started losing. The Jets running game is hurting, and the Bills running game isn’t looking any better with Jackson out this week. So that kills the play action and leaves it on the offensive lines to protect long enough for passing. I think the Bills still have a better receiver core, and will win the passing game. For that reason, I’m taking the Bills to win by a slight margin, but really, this game could go either way.

Pumpkin Pie

Denver at San Diego Line: -7.0
The 5-5 Denver Tebows now get a solid challenge in division rival (and also 5-5) NOrv Turner led Chargers. Of course, Norv (how does he still have a job) Turner is only getting worse as time goes on. It’s like the guy never looks at the clock. His management, coaching, of his team is getting worse. No wonder they look like they don’t want to be there. The Chargers are in a sad state of affairs these days, because they have the talent but the drive seems to be missing. Rivers is a good quarterback at heart, but he makes too many mistakes under Norv’s system. So what about the Broncos? Well, they just released Orton, pretty much saying they are putting their money behind Tebow. Elway isn’t sold, which is kind of douchey because Tebow has better stats in his first eight games than Elway had (see below inforgraphic.) No matter what you or Jake Plummer think about the guy, he’s a winner. As Tebow super fan @mbletschtold me about this game, “If he wins, I bet you Norv Turner gets fired. TEBOW!!” I’m Tebowing all over the place these days. Whipped cream baby, just not on any chicks breasts. Tebow won’t have any of that. Broncos to win on the road.

Uh, shut the hell up Elway.

Pecan Pie

Pittsburgh at Kansas City Line: +10.5
Really though, when it comes down to it there is nothing we like more in football more than a nice old fashioned ass whipping. And here’s your ass whipping game this week. The Chiefs are floundering. Cassel is done for the season, nice waste of money there. And you want to talk about inaccurate passing? Take a look at freaking Palko. He threw three interceptions last week, and yeah, it was against the Patriots but who cares? He missed many passes, especially down the sideline. It wasn’t all about lack of protection either, the kid just isn’t ready for the big show. Against the Steelers? He’s got to be shitting in his goddamn boots. The Steelers will crush the Chiefs this weekend, into a substance resembling the gooey center of a pecan pie. Steelers to win.

Collard Greens

Tampa Bay at Tennessee Line: -3.5
If I’m not mistaken (as I often am) Chris Johnson averaged like 1.1 yards a carry last game, really stinking up the joint. Kind of a disgrace after that huge contract he was given for the last couple of years. Consider that back pay buddy. Last week, Hasselbeck was out and Jake Locker came in and almost brought the Titans back against a tougher Falcons team. He’s about to get into the conversation about rookie QB’s. I’m not sure who is playing this weekend, though it looks like Hasselbeck will get the start. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think Locker is going to be a great quarterback. The kid is damn good and I think the Titans should just go ahead and play him this weekend, let him learn the system and get some experience. Hasselbeck is gone next year, probably retired and the Titans aren’t making the playoffs this year (though not mathematically out.) Either way, the Bucs are too inconsistent on both sides of the ball this year to really be much of a threat to anyone – save for the Packers. What happened last week was just the Packer defense challenging the offense by letting the Bucs think they had a chance. They didn’t. Titans to win at home.


Arizona at St. Louis Line: -0.0 CRAPFEST OF THE WEEK!!
Oh shit, there’s another game this week. I almost forgot this match-up because pretty much everyone in the NFL universe couldn’t give a shit about this game. Both teams are playing like shit, both teams have no chance at a winning record and both teams make the other one look that much better. Do you think the Rams can manage to protect Bradford long enough to complete a pass? How about that Skelton guy? He’s making Kolb look better day by day and vice versa. No microwave in the world could heat up this mess to make it look appetizing. Just throw out the paper plates and order a pizza. Rams to win at home.

Top 10 Tips, Tastes and Tidbits for the Best Thanksgiving Ever

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I have scoured the interwebs to bring you the most helpful links for planning and preparing your Thanksgiving Feast. They include recipes galore, wine pairings, shopping and cooking tips, and much more.

1) A comprehensive guide to planning, shopping and cooking, brought to you by Cooks’ Illustrated.

2) Is there a perfect Turkey recipe? Well known chef Jonathan Waxman thinks so. LINK

3) Some folks think the side dishes are the best part. Here are 10 Great Ones via Foodista. LINK

4) Even more side dishes from restaurant chefs via FINDEATDRINK. LINK

- Wait…you just love Brussels Sprouts? Check out this recipe and VIDEO how to. LINK

5) Having a large crowd over? Here’s a quick TIP.

6) What’s the best wine to drink (or bring) for the big meal? LINK

7) What to consider if some of your guests are vegetarian, vegan or “gluten-free”. LINK

8) For celebrity chef fans, here’s a look at WWBD: What Would Bobby (Flay) Do. LINK

9) Fair warning: DO NOT READ THIS if you don’t want to know what’s really in your Thanksgiving meal. (Hint: fat, sugar & salt – surprise, surprise.) LINK

10) Music for the meal? My suggestion is to sign up for Spotify and create your own jukebox for free! Plug it into your speakers and you’re good to go. LINK

Have the best Thanksgiving ever!

The Short Order Dad®


Photo Credit: Ryan Ozawa

Thanksgiving Dinner Dry Run

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Turkey Wellington | Thanksgiving Test Run | Digital Dads
Another year, another quest to find a Thanksgiving meal I want to actually stick with for the long haul. Last year I wrote about how I’m not one for the traditional Thanksgiving with a large, majestic turkey sitting in all of its roasted glory at the center of my holiday table. Having tried osso bucco style turkey legs and a roulade in recent years, I decided to take things in a different direction and try my hand at turkey two ways.

The first of my two way turkey feast would be to confit the legs and thighs, so when I pick up my turkey this year I won’t be applying a dry brine to it like I normally do. Rather, I will be butchering it down, seasoning the legs and thighs skin on with a light overnight cure before subjecting them to a very long, slow bath in some duck fat in my oven. At the same time I will roast the carcass and the bones so that I can make a turkey stock or demi glace.

The second act of my holiday meal will be to turn the turkey breasts into turkey wellington by carefully rolling them with layers of proscuitto and a sausage and cornmeal stuffing before covering it all up in puff pastry.

Since we will be having a small audience at Thanksgiving this year I’m keeping the sides simple with some garlic sauteed haricot vert, parmesan mascarpone mashed potatoes and, of course, cranberry sauce. However, in keeping with the “two ways” theme, I’ll be offering two very different cranberry sauces. In addition to my spiced cranberry sauce that my family insists on every year, I’ve also devised a more savory cranberry and hard cider reduction sauce, as I thought it would pair better with the confit.

While I have no qualms about using my family as guinea pigs to entertain my every culinary whim, I do like to do a practice run of things to give myself a chance to test out my recipes and ideas so that I don’t have a Thanksgiving day calamity. Earlier this week I tested both my turkey wellington and cranberry and hard cider reduction recipes and was for the most part was pleased with the results.

I wasn’t at my most graceful when I rolled up my test turkey wellington and I used my grandmother’s Italian stuffing in place of the cornbread stuffing I intend to use on Thanksgiving, but the final product was very close to what I had originally envisioned. Plus, it tasted great.

There was a split opinion on the cranberry and hard cider reduction sauce. My wife liked it, but would have preferred a more traditional cranberry sauce with the turkey wellington. Personally, I enjoyed the more pronounced tartness and acidity that the reduction sauce brought to the wellington even though I had intended it to dress the turkey confit.

Either way you sauce it, I know it is going to be another great Thanksgiving in our house.  From my family to yours I wish you all the best for a great holiday.

Turkey Wellington


  • 1 boneless turkey breast
  • 18 slices of proscuitto (or ham, or pancetta)
  • Stuffing or dressing recipe of choice
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • egg wash


  1. Place a cookie sheet in your over and preheat to 350 degrees
  2. On a sheet of parchment or wax paper, create two overlapping rows of proscuitto to form the base for the internal wellington roll
  3. Spread a layer of your stuffing or dressing recipe of choice on top of the sheet of proscuitto leaving about an inch on all sides
  4. Lay the boneless turkey breast on top of the stuffing with the thinner ends slightly overlapping to make the thickness as uniform as possible
  5. Using the parchment or wax paper for leverage, roll the layers up until you can seal one end of the sheet of proscuitto with the other
  6. Dust your cutting board or countertop with some flour and roll out the puff pastry sheet until it is big enough to wrap around your proscuitto and stuffing encased turkey breast
  7. Place the turkey breast roll a few inches from the start of the puff pastry closest to you and roll until the puff pastry overlaps
  8. Beat one egg with a few drops of water to make an egg wash, using a pastry brush add a thin layer of the egg wash to the seams and the ends as you tuck and pinch them closed
  9. Remove the cookie sheet you’ve been warming up in the oven as it preheats, place a sheet of parchment paper on top and then add your turkey wellington roll
  10. Apply a thin coat of the egg wash to the entire roll and place in the center rack for 40 to 45 minutes
  11. Check on things after 20 to 25 minutes and tent the turkey wellington with aluminum foil so that it doesn’t burn
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into slices, garnish and serve

Cranberry Hard Cider Reduction


  • 1 bag of cranberries, washed and picked through
  • 1 12 oz bottle of hard apple cider
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon canola (or other neutral) oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan heat the oil, then add the shallots and cook for three to five minutes
  2. Add the washed and picked through cranberries and cook on medium high until they begin popping open, adding splashes of the water, if necessary
  3. After the cranberries have reduced down, turn up the heat and pour in the bottle of hard cider
  4. Give the cider a minute or so to burn of the alcohol, then add the sugar and sprigs of thyme
  5. Turn the heat to medium low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly
  6. Using an immersion blender, or transferring to stand blender, puree the reduction and add any water, if necessary
  7. Strain through a sieve or a fine mesh strainer and return to the sauces pan to either reduce further or to keep the sauce warm until ready to serve

The cure for a turkey leftover hangover

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

It’s two days after Thanksgiving and the remains of the day are still hanging around your refrigerator. You could make a sandwich or pile up some turkey and what fixings you still have and reheat. You could also try something new by spicing up your leftover turkey into a hearty, yet light stew that is easy to make and a real delight to eat.

A while back my wife found a recipe in Cooking Light magazine for a Brazilian style stew using leftover turkey. Having had roasted a turkey for some family that was in from overseas she made this for us with what was leftover. It was one of only a handful of times she’s ever cooked for me in our six plus years together, but it was excellent.

After the Smoked Turkey Debacle of 2009 I had a good bit of leftovers and a disproportionate ratio of turkey to sides remaining at that. Not wanting to waste all of the meat that was left over I knew I had to find something to do with it.

For whatever reason we forgot about this stew, but stumbled upon our hard copy of the recipe as we searched the archives for inspiration. I made a few changes from Cooking Light’s recipe based on either availability or to suit our tastes.

Leftover Turkey Vatapa

adapted from Cooking Light


Large sauce pan or dutch oven


Olive oil
3 strips bacon, cut into lardons
1 medium leek, washed, halved and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 12 ounce light beer (I used a Corona Light)
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups leftover turkey, diced
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (reserved half for serving)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper to taste


  • Take the bacon cut into lardons (tiny strips) and render until crispy.
  • Drain off half of the bacon grease, add the olive oil, leeks, onion and garlic, then saute for about five minutes
  • Add the ginger and jalapeno, saute for one minutes while constantly stirring
  • Pour in the beer, chicken stock and undrained can of tomatoes, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about thirty minutes
  • Using a spice or coffee grinder (or food processor) finely grind 1/4 cup of the peanuts and add to the base along with the turkey and coconut milk
  • Bring the mixture back to a simmer and cook for five to seven minutes
  • Stir in the parsley, cilantro, salt and pepper
  • Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary


After ladling out this stew into some bowls all I added was a few leaves of fresh cilantro and some peanuts to provide a textural element to the soup.

If you give this, or anything else here, a try we’d love for you to drop us a comment and tell us how you liked it, or what you did differently to suit your tastes.

Let’s talk turkey

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and long before partaking in the festivities, or the tryptophan induced coma, I’ve been diligently researching my menu. While I enjoy my role as the family chef what I really enjoy is putting together the big production holiday feast.

That being said, I’m also not one that finds a tremendous amount of comfort in following tradition. As I prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with my family there will be no Norman Rockwell setting in my dining room. Nor will there be any bygone era images of the family patriarch preparing to carve some majestic roasted bird as those gathered eagerly wait.

The truth is I don’t care much for turkey. My grandfather – a butcher during his nearly 50 year professional career – didn’t like turkey either. One of the most endearing memories I have of thanksgiving while I lived with my grandparents during college was coming home from work to find a large ham on the platter where one would normally find the thanksgiving turkey. However, so as not to disappoint those in the family that would have missed the turkey, my grandfather had dutifully affixed roasted drum sticks and a measure of stuffing to the ham to give the illusion that “turkey” was still the centerpiece of our thanksgiving table.

Three years ago I started serving Osso Bucco Style Turkey with an array of sides inspired by my Italian heritage. It was a big hit with my family and with my wallet. For a number of reasons the meat departments at my local stores have seen an increase in sales of turkey breasts leaving them with superfluous turkey legs and other various parts. Their burden became my bounty when I scored as many as I could handle for the pittance of $.99 per pound.

Last year I decided to mix things up again and try my hand at smoking a turkey. Everything was set up perfectly. Eschewing traditional brining methods I opted to dry brine my bird and put together a spice rub that I felt would complement the rest of the meal. My plans were foiled, however, when I had an equipment malfunction Thanksgiving morning. The heating element of my electric smoker refused to cooperate and I was forced to simply roast my turkey.

Since I haven’t replaced my smoker, and preferring to not rest on my laurels and return to the success I had braising, I will be forging ahead this year with a stuffed turkey. I’ll be following Chef Mario Batali’s Tacchino Ripieno recipe, but will instead be substituting my grandmother’s Italian stuffing recipe as the filling.

One of these days I hope to find a thanksgiving tradition of my own, especially as my children get older and begin to understand holidays. For now I’m happy to take it all in and try different things until we find the right combination that works for us.

So, let’s talk turkey. What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

Surviving Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I love the holiday season. For me, it isn’t about the gifts, the glitter or big sales. For me it is about all the sappy stuff. The time with family, the good moods, the great conversations and the quality time spent with other people.

Dessert Time

I hate an empty house on the holidays so we have an open invitation to our family that they are always invited down for Thanksgiving. Sometimes they come. Sometimes they go elsewhere. The above photo is from our house last year as we were dishing out dessert.

This Thursday my parents, little brown brother (Abe the Chocolate lab), sisters, aunt, cousin and their husky puppy Aero will be coming down. It’ll send my house into complete chaos as it fills with the smells of the turkey roasting and the sounds of the first holiday music on the stereo. Yes, we have a ban on our house of holiday music not being allowed before Thanksgiving and we always play Alice’s Restaurant at least once for my dad. (As an aside, if you need some new holiday music I highly suggest Allison Crowe’s Tidings.)

The key to successfully surviving a holiday like this is to be able to laugh. My family is not the norm I know. We all get along. We enjoy spending time together and actually look forward to it. Sure, every once and a while someone will drive someone else nuts, but for the most part it’s all good.

But, what if you don’t like spending time with your family and have to? Here are some tips that should help you get through it without becoming an outcast.

  • Be Like A Duck
    Ducks let water run off them all the time. You don’t have to react to every little thing. Let the snide remark or stupid comment just roll off you like water and move on. Save your reactions for the big ones.
  • Get Outside
    A hot kitchen and a room full of people can get to anyone. Mini cabin fever sets in and that won’t help anyone’s mood. If things are getting for you, put on a jacket and go for a walk. The fresh air will do you good and give you time to fume away from the masses.
  • Drink, But Don’t Get Drunk
    Just like at the office holiday party a drink can loosen things up, but the last thing you want to do is get overly drunk and do something stupid. We all know that we make bad decisions after too many drinks. This is worse when you are with family so be smart about it.
  • Be Helpful
    You’d be amazed how much good will you will get when you offer to help set the table, assist in the kitchen or take on the smallest of tasks. Just understand that if you are told to, “get out of the kitchen” that is exactly what it means. Nothing drives the cook more crazy then everyone ignoring that statement. Trust me I know since I am usually the cook!
  • Just Because You Have a Mouth, You Don’t Need to Use It
    Learning to bite your tongue is a crucial skill for getting through life. Just because someone does something stupid, says something inappropriate or is acting like a complete idiot doesn’t mean you have to respond. When this happens just quietly ignore it and move on. You’ll thank me later for that.

I’ve got to go pick up my turkey from Out Post Farm tomorrow and I can’t wait. I wished there was a way to capture the magical smell of pies that fill their shop every year. Absolutely amazing.

I hope that each and every one of you has a happy and fun filled Thanksgiving. What other tips would you give for holiday survival?

The shoe cables a repent reward near the visible.