Monday, November 14, 2022


WARNING! there are no turkey recipes in this post. 
For a brief period of time, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. Why? Because, at its heart, it's all about food. And y'all know I love to eat. And cook. We never really celebrated Thanksgiving in my immigrant Polish childhood home. In fact, I have no memories of it. Zero. Zilch. None. The only turkey we ever ate was in deli meat form and I wasn't fond of it. Smoked turkey was too dry, and unsmoked turkey was too wet. Both, unfortunately, tasted like turkey. My unpopular opinion: you can keep the bird. The sides were and still are more interesting to me. 

I roasted my first turkey in my parents' house as a new wife at the ripe old age of 35. Mr Minx had skipped his own family's celebration to start a new tradition with my clan. Because his family did the whole turkey-and-multiple-carbs thing, his new bride would do the same. I used Alton Brown's recipe, minus the brine, and to be perfectly honest--it was a triumph. I didn't (and still don't) understand why anyone made dry turkey when a moist and juicy one is so easy. 

Sadly, my mother died the following February, so we Minxes, plus my younger brother but minus our dad, started celebrating with my mother-in-law and her regular holiday crew. After my first Thanksgiving there, which included turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, supplemented with canned corn, canned peas, and canned cranberry sauce, frozen rolls, and sweet potato casserole made with frozen glazed yams, I decided to take over help with the cooking. The following year, I brought a corn pudding and homemade cranberry sauce. In subsequent years I started making the sweet potatoes and the gravy, and added brussels sprouts and green bean casserole. If the holiday was about food, then I wanted it to be tasty and abundant. I loved my mother-in-law dearly, but in her later years she cooked primarily for sustenance purposes. I, on the other hand, loved to cook and eat delicious things and truly enjoyed preparing my contributions. 

A few years later, we moved the celebration to my brother-in-law's house as my MIL had various ailments and became too ill to cook. BIL Craig made the stuffing and provided the kitchen, and Mr Minx and I made everything else. I took off from work the day before Thanksgiving in order to get as much cooking done as possible in advance so it only needed rewarming the next day. Lugging bags of cooked food, raw ingredients, and some cooking implements, we started to feel like caterers. After my MIL passed, Thanksgiving finally moved to Minx Manor. Dad's girlfriend had dumped him, so he became part of the crew. And while it was more convenient to cook and serve food at our own house, going from caterer to restaurant owner involves more expense, decision-making, and house-cleaning, and much less enjoyment. One year, after vowing never to wash so many dishes again, we made lasagna and salad. It raised slightly less furor than the year I decided to make roast duck

Then Craig got married and Dad died. Buh-bye Thanksgiving feast! Seeya never, turkey! The holiday crowd that once included Mr Minx's 99-year-old grandfather and MIL's work friend Wayne in addition to five other family members was down to Mr Minx, Minxbro, and moi. In 2019, we started a new tradition: the grand Thanksgiving meal was pared down to a giant charcuterie platter that we grazed upon as we watched football and drank copiously all day. That first year, I cooked nothing, though I did make a cheeseball. Our coffee table became a buffet of cheese, crackers, sausage, and stuff like olives and cornichons. We used paper plates which we refilled over and over again. It was great, and we weren't stuck with 3 pounds of leftover turkey in the fridge. We did the same in 2020, and I added broiled bacon-wrapped dates to the party. 

Then my brother announced that it seemed wrong not to have a cooked poultry product on our holiday table.

There was no way I was going to make a turkey for three people, one of whom wasn't even going to eat it. I decided to make chicken wings, which seemed appropriate considering we'd be eating them in front of the annual Lions and Cowboys games. But I couldn't find reasonably priced wings last year. Chicken legs, however, were budget-friendly, with more meat and less waste. I coated them with a seasoning based on the wings served at Earth, Wood, and Fire and baked them. And since I had the oven on, I roasted brussels sprouts and tossed them in a spicy-sweet sauce of gochujang and maple syrup. We still had charcuterie, but much less of it. This year will be a repeat of last year, with the addition of stuffing. I know what you're thinking--in a year or two, I'll be back to making the whole holiday shebang again. No! I promise I won't go back to that. The only reason I'm making stuffing is because Olivia's Croutons sent me a box of products that includes both regular and gluten free stuffing mixes. So I'll make a small pan of each. Stuffing is simple: sauteed mirepoix; broth; herbs; bread. Maybe a little pork. We'll see what I feel like tossing in. Bake until crusty. Hey, the oven's gonna be on anyway....

For those of you who read this far and are still looking for Thanksgiving recipes, I'm including some here at the end. Please remember that I'm not like those bloggers who make turkeys in June just to have something to post in advance of the holiday. BO-RING! There are 109 million hits on the google for "roast turkey recipes," so you don't need mine. Sides is where it's at, people, so here's a handful of recipes for good stuff to eat on the side of a nasty ol' turkey. (Yes, I realize most of the recipes are for brussels sprouts. We like brussels sprouts!)

Corn Pudding
This is the corn pudding that I made every Thanksgiving for 15 years. I could have sworn I posted it here at some point in the past, but I couldn't find it. Luckily, I have the original printout safely tucked away someplace I can actually find it.

3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, cream, and milk. Stir in the salt, sugar, and corn.

Pour into a greased 8" square baking pan. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
Blackened Carrots with Harissa Yogurt I didn't make this for Thanksgiving originally, but I think it would make a great side dish. 
Celery Root Remoulade Try something totally different and make a cold salad. It's like cole slaw, but not at all like cole slaw.
Cheesy Drop Biscuits are much better than heat-and-eat dinner rolls.
Collard Greens are traditional in some homes. I do believe I made them to accompany my first turkey.
Spicy Sweet Potato and Bacon Casserole Make this at your own risk. I posted it on Food52 and someone commented that it was a "hot mess." I thought it was pretty tasty, and far better than the stuff with mini-marshmallows on top.

The Brussels Sprouts Collection
Raw Brussels Sprout Salad
Shaved Brussel Sprout, Meyer Lemon, Quinoa Salad

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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