Ah, Thanksgiving. I woke up early and baked my trio of breads right away – applesauce spice with apricot glaze, pumpkin and cranberry. The oven was on literally all day. Then I cracked fresh chestnuts for my chestnut bread stuffing, sauteed the mirepoix for it and got that pan into the oven.
While the oven was working full steam ahead, I had the husband fire up the Weber for this showpiece – the pheasant. We narrowly averted a wood chip disaster when we realized were out of the apple-chip cans. But I was able to throw together a packet with the apple shavings I normally use in the stove top smoker by putting an entire pint of them into a tin foil packet. Despite previous problems with this method, it actually worked this time, to our great relief.
While the pheasant was smoking out back, I made up a whole stockpot full of mashed potatoes (I love mashed potatoes), home made cranberry sauce and steamed broccoli. I also put together a few a few appetizer platters – proscuitto and smoked salmon with dilled mustard and a veggies – marinated mushrooms, gerkins, pickled asparagus, soy mozzarella and triscuits (for some reason, we have a box in the panty). After all that, I slid the ham into the oven and set the table.
I had a linen tablecloth down with two glittered pumpkins and a beeswax taper in a silver candleholder for the centerpiece. We used my blue willow dishware, as always. It was simple, yet nice. Jeremy’s grandpa came over for dinner and we all had a great time talking – we love hearing stories of the family and his life.
And when we sat down to dinner, the pheasant. Oh, the pheasant! The color was the deepest chestnut brown, with a crispy skin, and the meat was tender – even silky and very moist. It was gamey, but not too much so, and was redolent with apple flavor. It’s the best poultry I’ve ever eaten. I’m not sure I can go back to turkey after pheasant.
Oh, and you want to know the secret to extra pumpkiny pumpkin bread that will make you happy forever? Cook down a can of pumpkin until it’s reduced by half before adding it to your batter/dough. Concentrate the flavor. I’ll have the miracle pumpkin bread recipe itself posted soon so you can try it out.
So all in all, Thanksgiving was a great success. And we’ve got a nice pile of leftovers, so the cooking fun continues with creative leftover recipes. Happy Holidays everyone!