Start With the Bird

Thanksgiving will be a small affair this year – just myself, my husband and my husband’s grandfather. With a trio to feed, I can really focus on quality over quantity and that opens up a world of exciting possibilities for dinner, dessert and drinks. We’re not wedded to turkey at our house, so the first question in planning dinner is – will we have a bird?

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been wanting to do pheasant for Thanksgiving and now the cost doesn’t seem so daunting – one bird will certainly feed the three of us quite well. I’m going to roast it, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll roast it plain or flavor it in some way. I’ll have to page through my cookbooks and check out my favorite blogs to see what the options are. I’m also going to do a small ham, because I just love all things pork and I think it’s important to serve at least two meat dishes for holiday feasts. I’ll likely do a simple honey glaze and stud it with whole cloves for flavor.

For side dishes, I’ll do mashed potatoes with truffle oil, a simple herbed spaetzle, and chestnut bread stuffing. The bread stuffing will be a mix of light and dark rye bread – you just can’t beat the wonderful flavor. I also like to have something green on the table, so I might do a quick sautéed rainbow chard, as my husband has discovered this autumn that he likes chard quite a lot. It’s colorful and a nice change from kale or broccoli. And of course I’ll have a bowl of home made cranberry jelly on the table as well.

I’ll make up a small appetizer plate of smoked salmon, mixed olives, and cornichons to munch on during pre-dinner socializing. I might also do up a dozen or so shrimp for grilled shrimp cocktail with a home made horseradish cocktail sauce. Why not be a little indulgent?

For beverages, I’ll have a small bottle of my apple spice snaps for the dinner toast as well as a bottle of Longview Pinot Noir (my favorite winery in Michigan) that we’ve been saving for a special occasion. I think it will pair nicely with the roasted pheasant and honey-clove ham.

And of course, you can’t forget about dessert. I’m going to do a trio of breads – pumpkin, applesauce spice and probably gingerbread. I’m going to make them in mini loaf pans and send Grandpa home with some for the freezer.

For décor, I’ll keep it simple and fresh this year. I’ll use blue willow dishware and short café cups for the wine. I’m thinking of getting a simple woven tan table runner instead of a full tablecloth this year. And I’ll use half a dozen fresh gourds and a couple of short beeswax candles to decorate the table runner.

Now that I’ve got it all planned out, I can make my shopping list, clip my coupons and compile my recipes. This is the meal I most look forward to cooking each year (with Christmas dinner for my husband being a close second) and I think this year’s menu will be just delicious!

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2 thoughts on “Start With the Bird

  1. Very ambitious! I too will be making a series of small loaf quick breads for Thanksgiving. On my list are: Pumpkin n Ginger, Sour Cream Cranberry, and probably something gluten-free for my sister. Hooray for the Season of Eating!

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