Thanksgiving Dinners

Two. Maybe three? Four? I can’t remember as far back as Friday.

There were artichoke dip poppers and potato croquettes, and Brussels sprouts (BRUSSELS! Not brussel sprouts. Ahem.) with bacon and candied pecans, and braised red cabbage, smashed potatoes, roasted squash and winter veg and cranberries and plums, and yes a turkey, a turducken and four pies. Five, if you count tonight’s, which was actually a tarte tatin.

I’m not sure where to start.

The poppers? That’s where we started on Saturday, so i’s as good a place as any. I had them at the Jasper Park Lodge last weekend, and swore to make them as soon as possible. (Or as soon as I had people over on whom to pawn them off. Speaking of the JPL, I’ll be at Christmas in November at this time next month! With Michael Smith and Anna Olson! It’s a ton of fun! Who’s coming?)

So it works like this: you take leftover artichoke dip – any kind, really, provided it’s baked and then cooled (read: congealed) so you can roll it into little balls. (Don’t worry about them being perfectly firm; prepare to get messy.) If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to bake a dip expressly for this purpose, because leftover + artichoke dip don’t go in the same sentence around here. If you are like me you’ll eat all the crispy cheese off the top, thinking it won’t matter in the poppers anyway.

You roll them in flour, then egg, then Panko, then send them for a swim in a shallow pot of oil. They get all crisp and golden on the outside, with gooey artichoke dip on the inside. Oh yes.

It turned out to be the same technique as the potato croquettes my Aunt Chris, who came to visit from Milwaukee and whom I haven’t seen since I was about 10, made for turkey dinner with the family. She makes them out of potatoes mashed with egg yolk and salt, and rolls them – shaped like a double-long tater tot – in flour, then beaten egg white and dry breadcrumbs.

She tests to see if the oil is hot enough with the handle of a wooden spoon. She says she learned it from Rachel Ray. The oil is supposed to bubble around the handle – I do this with a bit of bread. You need some moisture in there.

We had two great birds this weekend – my Mom roasted a free range turkey (below) from Winter’s out in Dalemead. I tweeted photos of it as it emerged from the oven, which prompted a barrage of questions about how to get it to look like that. Because I didn’t think tweeting out my mom’s phone number was a good idea, I posted some turkey roasting advice – mine along with the good folks at Winter’s Turkeys – if anyone is having turkey trouble.

On Saturday I cooked a locally made turducken from Calgary Co-op – turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with Spolumbo’s sausage. The cooking instructions specified a long cooking time at very low heat (225F?), and so I thought why not do it in the CrockPot? Turduckens tend to be smaller than regular turkeys – or they should be, since they are solid meat. With no carcass or cavity, they’re heavier and feed more than a regular turkey of the same size. Bonus: are they ever easy to carve! Nip off the legs and slice ‘er up like a meatloaf. Beauty,

The turducken tucked perfectly into a 6 qt oval slow cooker – I didn’t add stock or anything – the juices are contained and enough – and it generously freed up the oven to bake things like pies.

But chickens and turkeys done in the slow cooker aint pretty; A quick turn in a hot oven crisped up the skin nicely. Not the best photo – it was dark by the time we ate – but you get the gist.

And yes, more pie! Apple-pear, maple pecan, a sort of new version of cherpumple (more on that later) and Sue’s plum pie, from her very first blog post. Welcome to the inter-web Sue!

I didn’t cram the plums in as neatly – nor as tightly – as she did, partly because I was running out of time, and partly because I didn’t have quite enough plums. (I counted the pits – there were 30.) It still looked fab, and didn’t overflow, as Sue’s did (not that there’s anything wrong with that) – which could be due to the fact that I used a shallow quiche dish instead. The problem with tart pans that have removable bottoms? Whenever I go to use them their bottoms have been removed.

Many dinners, even more desserts. I’ll catch you up on the rest soon.

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16 comments on “Thanksgiving Dinners

  1. Erica B.
    October 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    That Winter’s Turkey is a thing of beauty! There are several sun-worshiping tourists that’d kill to have a tan like that 😉

    Looks like a wonder full weekend! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Jennifer Jo
    October 11, 2011 at 4:55 am

    How does sticking the handle of a wooden spoon in the oil tell you when it’s hot enough?

  3. Sandy B
    October 11, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Everything looks so good. Was the Turducken worth the high price? My brother did one years ago and didn’t really think so. But yours sure looks yummy!

  4. Laurel
    October 11, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Yummy! I worked at a french restaurant and I was so happy because in November they catered so many Thanksgiving dinners I ate it over and over again! My favorite is stuffing (or dressing)! Those artichoke poppers are genius and sound delicious!

  5. Fiona
    October 11, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Beautiful turkey! My grandmother used to make potato croquettes. They always make me think of her. I’ll have to make them sometime – maybe Christmas.

    I made those sprouts with the candied pecans and they were a big hit (sans bacon).

  6. Betty
    October 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Is there anyone in your family that would adopt me…your dinners always look amazing!

  7. Alyson
    October 11, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    YUM!

  8. renee@sweetsugarbean
    October 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Those fried artichoke dip balls have my name all over them. Genius!!!

  9. Tiffany
    October 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  10. Jacquie
    October 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Your Mom’s turkey is stunning (never thought I’d say that about a turkey!) but it’s true. Maybe she can do a guest post before Christmas and the next round of turkey?

  11. Jaya
    October 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Wow, that is one gorgeous pie!

  12. Vincci
    October 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Your Aunt Chris seems awesome! My mom ALWAYS deep-fat fries with her wok – I don’t think she’s ever heard of an actual fryer! Instead of using a wooden spoon handle she uses a wooden chopstick (naturally)

  13. Jen Melo
    October 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Everything looks so yummy! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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