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a pumpkin, a turkey, and a sprinkle of home

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My first ever Canadian Thanksgiving abroad!  Huzzzzzah!  Can you believe it? I’ve spent the past 5 Thanksgivings abroad and this is my first Canadian one; and it’s the third country that I’ve hosted one in!  Due to the sheer power of numbers, my previous Thanksgivings have been American ones, but this year, it was all about the power of one.  Since I’m staying the Deutschland with D’s family right now while we look for work and the next place we decide to plant our feet, I thought I’d show them some profound thanks by cooking up a big ol’ traditional meal!  One straight from home with all the fixings!  Turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole à la Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, and an everything-made-from-scratch pumpkin pie (thank you again SmittenKitchen)!  And everything came out perfectly.  It was even more rad to be cooking in the beautiful German countryside where it’s all about seasonal eating.  And of course, there were the delicious (but lethal!) schnapps that D’s dad brought to the table as a digestif.  Now that’s how you do it!!!!

And check out below for some tips, tricks and my own recipes!  Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so lucky to be here!

Time for stufffffing!

Meet Francis - the wonderful bird who fed 6 hungry stomachs! We are thankful!

Time to gobble gobble!

The Turkey!
Pre-Game Day
Now this is an 2-3 day affair. I usually start de-frosting the turkey in the refrigerator about 3 days before the big meal. This year, we were lucky and D’s family has multiple refrigerators on their property…like one that’s all for beer! On the day before the big meal, we took Francis (that’s what we named our bird) out of the fridge midday, and let him come to room temperature. Right before we went to bed on Thanksgiving-eve, we drowned (re: washed) him in white wine and buttered him up good! By this I mean, we made a herb-butter mixture of unsalted butter, salt, fresh rosemary and thyme and greased up Francis underneath his skin and directly on top of the breast meat. To see a video of how this is done, check this out! After that, we put him in a cold room that wasn’t quite a fridge, nor room temperature…in most European houses…this would be the root cellar.
Game Day
When we woke up on Thanksgiving morning, Francis came out of the root cellar to come to room temperature in the kitchen. We used Mark Bittman’s instructions to cook our 12.78lb (or 5.8kg) Francis – for approxiamtely 3.5 hours – basically the first 30 minutes should be dedicated to roasting your bird on high heat (500F) in order to brown it up nicely and sear in all the juices, the rest of the cooking time after that should be spent at 350F.  And every 30 minutes, we basted him with his own juices as well as a melted butter and white wine concoction I made earlier. When Francis was ready to come out of the oven, tah-dah – he was perfect! Moist, delicious. All a proud momma could want!

The (best!) Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes…à la Tiff.
1 head of roasted garlic
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of creme fraiche or sour cream
1lb of Yukon Gold potatoes
1 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper

I’ve perfected this recipe over the years – especially since dating D and learning the Deutschland love of the kartoffel. I wish I could actually give a recipe for this but it just requires a lot of intuition and elbow grease. First you’ll need to roast at least 1 bulb of garlic (and more depending on how many people you’re feeding).  Then while you’re  waiting for your garlic to cool down, you’ll need to cook your potatoes.  I usually say skin and cut your taters into big chunks and plonk them into salted boiling water for about 10-15 minutes until they’re soft.  Drain and put them in a big bowl to mash. While the potatoes are cooling, get a small saucepan out and heat together your creme fraiche, heavy cream, nutmeg, pepper and mashed roasted garlic. When this is thoroughly heated, pour it onto your cooked potatoes and mash into an amazing fluffy goodness! Season with salt and pepper according to taste!

What?! No Pumpkin Purée? No Canned Yam? Don’t Panic.
Having lived abroad these past years, I’ve learned that some things are just quintessentially North American – like canned pumpkin. I’ve also learned that it really isn’t pumpkin, but another species of squash! Anyways, if you’re living in Europe, you probably can’t find the canned pumpkin or canned yams that your pumpkin pie recipe calls for, even if there is a massive American contingent living in your country! Never fear! You can use a regular pumpkin and a real sweet potato! The Kitchn offers great instructions to roast your pumpkin and turn it into a pumpkin puree here. And as for those canned yams – instead you can take a regular uncooked yam. Wash it, pierce it’s skin in several places, wrap it in wet paper towel and put it on a microwave safe bowl.  Then zap it for 5 minutes on high in the microwave et voilà!  Cooked and ready to use yam for your pumpkin pie recipe!

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One thought on “a pumpkin, a turkey, and a sprinkle of home

  1. Pingback: Cambodia Cookbook….squash love! « infinitiff

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