We enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving with family in San Francisco. It was a gloriously clear day. The view from the City to Marin County was crystal clear, it couldn’t have been a nicer day.
We arrived early on Thursday at Pete’s sister Marie’s home in the upper Haight. We brought two cases of wine for her that Pete had selected from Fine Wines of Stockton. His sister had asked him to put two cases together for her (no, not to be consumed on Thanksgiving!). In addition we brought several wines to enjoy for Thanksgiving Day.
One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving with family is cooking together. Marie has a large well-stocked kitchen, so it is particularly enjoyable to cook with her. We set out preparing the turkey for roasting. After cleaning, liberally buttering and seasoning the bird, we put it in the oven to roast.
After that there was dressing to make. We spent time chopping, sautéing, and seasoning the ingredients for the dressing. Next we moved to preparing the side dishes; baked sweet onions in creme fraiche, glazed carrots and peas with mint and of course, mashed potatoes. We had a great time chopping, cooking and chatting. There is no better time to get caught up on what’s going on that while cooking.
Soon the house was filled with wonderful cooking smells and family members. This of course stimulated our appetites which meant it was time to open the See’s Candies! One thing always leads to another, and soon enough we had popped the cork on a bottle of NV Gruet Brut Sparkling Wine. For those who wanted, there were Bada Bing Cherries to add to their glass of sparkly. These ripe bing cherries contain only sugar and have the most amazing flavor.
More family and friends began to arrive and the house was filled with conversation. Soon along with the Gruet Brut, we were sipping a Sterling Pinot Noir, a Waterbrook Melange and a French Chablis. We also opened a bottle of Pinot Noir that another of Pete’s sisters made at her home winery.
We took turns working in the kitchen, visiting, tasting olives and cheeses and checking the football game on the TV. Before we knew it, the turkey was done, dressings were heated, gravy was made and the side dishes were completed. We sat down to a wonderful dinner with friends and family!
Of course dinner was followed by pies, the usual assortment of pumpkin, pecan and lemon meringue. All were fabulous, as always. It was the perfect ending to our meal. I am so thankful to be part of a family of such wonderful cooks!
Over the years, Pete and I have hosted many Thanksgivings at our home for our families. We have had as many as 15 guests for Thanksgiving some years. Rather than roast one large turkey, we prefer to cook two smaller turkeys. One we stuff and roast in the oven, the other we BBQ on the Weber.
As much as I love the flavors of the roasted turkey, Thanksgiving now does not seem complete without the BBQ’d turkey. So Pete and I decided to BBQ a small turkey just for us a couple of days after Thanksgiving. It’s really not that much work and it is so worth the effort. The smokey flavor of the meat makes the best turkey sandwiches. The gravy from the BBQ’d bird has the richest possible flavor and the turkey carcass makes the most flavorful soup.
We took the day off from cooking on Friday. We just snacked on cheese and crackers, having eaten enough the day before for several days! We decided to cook our turkey on Saturday.
We used the smoker this year, rather than the BBQ to cook the turkey, because the temperature is more easily controlled with the smoker. The smoker also allowed us to collect the turkey drippings more easily during cooking without getting charcoal into them. We were able to get a wonderful brown skin and the turkey meat had the most flavorful, smoky taste. Our 12.5 pound turkey cooked in only two and a half hours.
We prepared only a few side dishes with the turkey. Just dressing (my grandmother and mother’s recipe-a must for the turkey sandwiches that will follow in the next couple of days), mashed potatoes, peas with mint and chives and of course gravy.
To accompany our “turkey for two”, we choose a 2005 WillaKenzie Estate Thibaud’s Cuvee Pinot Noir. We bought the pinot on a prior trip to the Willamette Valley. It was fun to reminisce about our trip and how beautiful the Winery was.
It was even more fun drinking the wine! The color had started to change to that transparent garnet that comes with age. It had a very light mouth feel with flavors of tart cherries and a pleasing earthiness. The tannins were very smooth and well integrated. This wine was very pleasant to drink, but was somewhat overtaken by the strong smoke flavors of the turkey. It was great before and after turkey, however.
The next day Pete made turkey stock with the leftover carcass and soon we will be making turkey soup. Sort of a never ending Thanksgiving!