I’m writing down some notes on the menu for Thanksgiving 2022. I know a couple people would like to see what I’m doing, so I figured I’d post it here!
The plan is to do a “slow burn” throughout the day and eat one part of the meal at a time. Some of the stuff is a bit finicky and it’s helpful to spread the prep out more instead of having One Moment of Pure Chaos before dinner.
As much as possible, components or whole dishes were made yesterday. I don’t think I’ve ever run the dishwasher three times in one day? I did fuck up on the foie gras mousse, which could have been made ahead but I didn’t realize that — but more on that in a bit.
For appetizers, there are two items: Hoisin-Glazed Meatballs, and Choux Buns with Foie Gras Mousse. I also bought some pre-made breadstick-y cracker-y things to wrap with prosciutto in case we need a snack at some point.
The meatballs are something we made our first year together and have continued doing so for every Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can make a bunch of the meatball mix ahead of time without forming the balls. It remains compact in the fridge on The Big Day when there’s a bunch of other stuff using up all the space.
The glaze for the meatballs is best made while you’re cooking them. Every time I’ve tried to reheat the glaze has been a mess.
This is the first time for the choux buns. I’ve never made choux pastry before or worked with foie gras. A lot of learning is happening 😅
The process of making the choux dough seemed to go OK, but once the piping bag was loaded up, I suspected something had gone awry because it was very difficult to pipe. The dough didn’t want to flow.
I had added the eggs while the flour/water/butter mixture was still hot. The egg didn’t scramble in the pot or instantly cook or anything; in the moment, I thought it was going fine. But I suspected it did cook a bit in the dough and that made it thicker than it should be?
I posted about it right afterwards and Matthew Weier O’Phinney suggested that it just needed more eggs to get to the right spot. That makes more sense than the eggs cooking; not all eggs are created equal and the recipe was for 2 eggs and not however-many-grams of egg.
Lesson learned: next time, beat an extra egg and make small additions of the extra until it seems pipe-able.
The buns did still puff up! They’re smaller than they should have been; the air bubble isn’t wall-to-wall, but it’s still sizable. It wouldn’t be sufficient if I wanted to fill these like cream puffs, but I’m going to split them and then pipe filling between the two halves.
I had bought the foie gras pre-sliced, which I assumed also meant it had been cooked or cured in some way. But when I was reviewing the recipe for the buns last night, I realized that it called for “partially cooked” foie gras. I had no idea what that meant.
After some googling, I learned that it’s also called semi-cooked or mi-cui, and mine would be labelled as such if it had been prepared that way. Cooking it at all is going to render some of the fat, so if you wanted to just sear & serve, semi-cooked would probably not be that helpful?
I found a video on working with the ingredient. This wasn’t directly helpful for giving me a next step, but it was informative. All of the recipes I was reading suggested I had to dig the veins out. This video showed me that is something they did before slicing and packing.
I decided that I would sous vide the two slices I had at 135 F for 15 minutes, then dunk them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. While the water got up to temperature, I gave the slices a little salt, sugar, and cognac. I just kinda eyeballed some tiny amounts; all the recipes were for whole livers.
I’ll process them into the mousse soon, so we’ll see how that turns out!
The main course will be a roasted leg of lamb. It was inspired by this recipe, but I’ve deviated quite far. The stuffing only called for three cloves of garlic, but:
I pounded the garlic with an anchovy filet, salt, and oil in my mortal & pestle until it was paste. I reserved about a third of that. Once the lamb was stuffed and tied up, I stabbed a bunch of holes in the top of the roast and packed the reserved paste in for little pockets of garlicky goodness.
Then I added most of the other things from the recipe to the mortar. I skipped the onions since I didn’t want to sweat them, and I held the breadcrumbs back so I didn’t pound the mixture into a dough.
But all the herbs and pine nuts and stuff got mashed together lightly, then mixed into the breadcrumbs.
The leg of lamb was already deboned. I butterflied some of the larger bits so I’d have more surface to stuff and roll, then put it top of some roughly chopped carrots/celery/onion. Those should protect the drippings from burning.
If you’re wondering why it’s a lamb and not a turkey: turkey kind of sucks.
Alongside the roast, we’ll be doing mashed potatoes with Creamer Potatoes, roasted-to-a-char brussels sprouts, and milk bread rolls with Kerrygold butter. Although — if there’s extra foie gras mousse, that might replace the butter 😉
That will all be served with Le Palaie ‘Bulizio’ Toscana IGT 2013. This was from a wine club thing; they gave us a couple bottles themed around thanksgiving dinner for November. Hopefully it works with the lamb!
Dessert is a chocolate caramel tart. I didn’t have a hand in preparing this, so I don’t have a lot of notes. I can say that the ganache was made from the Noi Sirius 70% dark chocolate. It didn’t need to be salted since the bars already have big flakes of salt embedded in them.
The ganache could probably be scaled up 1.3x. Perhaps my tart pan is wider than what this recipe is for — it was a struggle to get total coverage.
The tart will be served with a lightly-chilled madeira. The jury’s still out on whether it needs whipped cream.
Anyways, happy thanksgiving!