I spent some time going back and forth about how fancy to make Thanksgiving this year. Last year was really simple, but the two before that were 11-course extravaganzas (2008, 2007). We have a wedding to attend on Saturday, so family will be in town, but some of them have to drive over an hour after dinner. So I decided to split the difference and make something in the 6-course range. I went shopping today and got what I think I need; if I forgot something I will make substitutions. And, in typical fashion, ours will be a turkey-free Thanksgiving.

As a mood-setting warmup, I cooked a duck breast and some root vegetables. The roots, all dug that afternoon from the garden (today was 60˚ and the ground is far from frozen) included turnip, carrot, leek, parsnip, onion, and two kinds of potato. I roasted them with woody herbs and copious olive oil. While they did their thing, I scored the fat on a duck breast, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and put a good crisp sear on the fat. As it rested, I drained most of the fat into a jar, which promptly shattered, spilling hot fat all over the counter and floor. After I cleaned that up, I sautéed some chanterelles in the skillet, adding a splash of wine at the end along with some minced rosemary.

Now as most of you know I like to fan slices of meat out across a plate; it shows off the pink perfection of a proper cooking, and makes for proportional portions and easy eating. But I was feeling kind of bored with it. So I thought instead that cubes might be nice, nestled in among the similarly-sized hunks of veggies and mushrooms. Kind of like a rock garden or something. So that’s what I did, and it looked (and tasted good). The only thing detracting in both areas was the lack of a nice frothy curry, dashi, or maybe saffron emulsion to add saucy splendor: colorful bubbles to visually enliven the landscape and tie the rich meat more thoroughly to the roots. I thought of it too late; it was time to eat. But it did the trick, and the absence of that elevating sauce made me start to think seriously about what I’m going to make on Thursday.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookGoogle+Pin on Pinterestshare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on LinkedInShare on StumbleUponEmail to someone



  1. November 23

    Yes, the rock garden needs a water feature. Cool idea.

  2. Peter
    November 25

    Talk amongst yourselves.

Comments are closed.