I was hoping to sleep in today considering our Thanksgiving meal won't be until this evening and I'll have all day to cook and prep, but at 3:30 this morning, my eyes popped open. I tried rolling around a while hoping I could drift back off to sleep, but that didn't happen. Once I made a trip to the bathroom, Flash must have heard me, then let out a few loud barks to let me know that he would like to empty his bladder too. After a cold and rainy trip outside, he was ready to play and wouldn't even consider going back to his bed for a few hours. Damn dog needs to learn how to tell time! Anyhow, I'm up and since I've been a very bad blogger this month, not meeting my NaBloPoMo goals, I thought now while the rest of my family is sound asleep and not requesting that I make them something to eat, or clean something, or play Candy Land for the millionth time, I would take a few minutes and share our Thanksgiving day menu.
Once again, the Gardener and I are hosting Thanksgiving dinner for his family. We usually eat late in the day on Thanksgiving as not to upset the deer hunters in the family who are still searching for a prize buck in the fields. So far no one I know has been successful in bagging a deer yet, but there are still a few days to go before Wisconsin's gun deer season comes to an end. So, once the boys head out of the field, they will be coming over here, undoubtedly hungry for a big meal of Turkey and all the fixings. Not that they'll actually find a turkey on the table at our house.
For the second year in a row, I have decided to go with a local free-range chicken instead of a turkey. I guess, if our local egg lady grew turkeys, we might have gone that route but since her chickens are out of this world, it was a no brainer. She saved a big 11 pounder for me the last time she and her husband butchered and that's what we will be eating today. I initially froze the fresh chicken, then thawed it out in the fridge earlier this week and made the brine yesterday. The chicken is currently out in the garage soaking away in this brine mixture. Normally I would be bitching about the cold snap that has overtaken our area in the last few days, but outdoor refrigeration is quite handy during the holidays.
Most store bought frozen turkeys (or chickens) do not need to be brined since the manufacturer usually brines them before freezing, but fresh birds like ours have not been treated with anything (but love!) and need to be soaked in a salt water brine for 16-24 hours for a most delicious flavor. I had planned on grilling a red wine chicken like I did last year, but with the cold and windy weather, I decided that running outside to check the bird on the grill every 30 minutes was not something I wanted to do, so I 'm going to roast it in the oven.
Besides chicken, I'm making whipped mashed potatoes with butter and cream cheese mixed in, grandma Dee's stuffing- traditional dried bread stuffing with sauteed onions, celery, carrots, apple, dried cranberries, and chicken stock to hold it all together. she always used raisins, but we prefer craisins in this house. Squash from the garden with butter and either brown sugar or a drizzling of maple syrup, cranberry sauce (made by Mae yesterday), a fresh fruit salad and roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar and bacon. For dessert my father-in-law is bringing pumpkin pie, and if I get time later today, I'll make an apple pie with some home canned apple pie filling leftover from last year that I need to use up, and pie crust made with lard from the pig we bought from the same local farmer from which the chicken (and bacon) came. I can't wait to get cooking and EATING!
So, for my American readers, what are your Thanksgiving plans today? Are you cooking or enjoying someone else's cooking today? I'd love to hear your Thanksgiving favorites, or even your least favorite. My least favorite is when cooks pollute the stuffing with the bag of Turkey innards that comes with most frozen birds. You know, the gizzard, neck, heart and liver? Talk about a quick way to ruin one of the best Thanksgiving day sides. That and anything with cream of _____ soup mixed in. Yuck! But that's just my opinion.
Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!