Friday, November 27, 2015


The holiday never really starts on Thanksgiving morning for us. Planning begins weeks if not months before the actual meal begins. Hours are spent mulling over recipes and making lists of ingredients. The save the dates and invitations can happen months in advance especially if we are intending on breaking bread with a group of friends who we've shared this holiday with many times throughout the years. By now this group is so spread out it would have required coordination of flights from San Francisco, Atlanta and New York, a task too daunting for all of us to try and make happen this year.
So our family of three decided we'd do something we'd talked about ever since Madison became our main address. This year we were going to travel back to the city of Christmas lights and Thanksgiving parades and make our holiday meal in our tiny apartment right off of Central Park West, about seven blocks north of where Macy's parade would make its start. The three of us booked our flights to New York. It was time to take advantage of our location so close to the parade route and all of the activities that go along with a New York holiday adventure.
We arrived late on the Monday before turkey day. Tuesday and part of Wednesday were devoted to shopping and the beginning of preparation for the meal.
Our tradition has it that we do a ham and biscuits the night before. Since there would only be Rick, Emmy and myself on preparation Wednesday we only purchased a half of a smoked ham. At about three on Wednesday afternoon Rick started the glaze, a mixture of apple cider, brown sugar, dry and dijon mustard and cloves brought to a boil to thicken while I scored the fatty side of the ham and then smeared it with Dijon mustard and studded it with whole cloves. The ham then went into the oven at 375 degrees for three hours basting the ham every twenty minutes.
While the ham was in the oven Rick start the biscuits modifying his recipe so the biscuits came out more with the consistency of croissants, flakey and buttery. I put together a salad of organic arugula, fresh figs and chevre. Rick made a dressing of fig jam, balsamic vinegar and a fruity extra virgin olive oil.
Emmy and I had planned on walking down to see the balloons being blown up for the parade. Rick had timed dinner to happen after what we had guessed would be our return time. This didn't quite work out but that will be a story yet to come.
When we returned Rick was working on a few things he could prepare for the following days main event. It's a very southern thing to plan the next meal before the current one has even been served. So when we got back he was elbow deep creating a carrot salad of grated carrots, scallions, parsley, mustard, olive oil and a bit of honey that would go into a bowl and then into the fridge as well as a cranberry sauce at the request of Emmy made from what else but the recipe on the bag.
I'm not a big turkey guy. The ham, biscuit and salad is by far my favorite meal of the season and leftovers of ham and biscuits can go on for a long time as far as I'm concerned.
Thursday morning the final construction of the meal began. We had planned a sit down time of around three in the afternoon. We had invited Emmy's former nanny and our long time friend, Angelina to complete the maximum seating available at our tiny dining table which was four.
There was a turkey breast to roast, more biscuits to bake made from the dough that had been put in the fridge from the day before, and a vegetable dish of sautéed Brussels sprouts.
For Rick it wasn't going to be Thanksgiving without a huge casserole of Mac & Cheese. I had Cuisinarted several pounds of a combo of Wisconsin and New York cheddar cheeses the night before and Rick whipped up the final concoction with a golden breadcrumb crust.
I was in charge of making Potatoes Anna, a layered cake of sliced russets with butter and salt and pepper compressed in a skillet on the stove and then finished off in the oven leaving a crispy crust and a soft, creamy center.
The final touch to the table and the meal was a non-alcoholic sangria made from sparkling cider, cranberry juice and garnished with sliced apples, clementines and grapes.
We are not good cooks when it comes to portion projection or refining a menu down from a dozen to four guests. In addition to the three pies we purchased from the Little Pie Company: pumpkin, Southern pecan and sour cream apple walnut we had enough leftovers to last until if not beyond our scheduled Tuesday departure.
We gathered around the table at just about three having set up the kitchen island as a buffet and staging ground for a meal that was just a tad overproduced. But I have to admit I'm looking forward to my Friday ham and biscuit sandwich with a little smear of Dijon mustard.
Hope y'all had a terrific and safe Thanksgiving!

Dairyland, Provincetown, 1976
Joel Meyerowitz, photographer
Represented by Danzinger Gallery

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