Tonight will be Italian Thanksgiving number two for me and J., and the second in general for me.
Last year we did a Friendsgiving potluck with all the classmates from our Master’s program. It was fun. This year, with all of them gone and a little place on our own, we are going to feast this Thanksgiving number two…In two. It is going to be novel for both, and between the two of us, I am surely the most excited. For as unconventional and as sad as it may sound –no family, no friends gathering around our little table — we thought we wanted to stay together, just the two of us. We are thankful for this crazy year that is about to finish, and for all the memories we have been able to save, on our moleskines and in our minds. There is nothing sad about it. There will be space for friends and family on Christmas, a holiday that both our cultures share.
Tonight, there will be simply good food, good wine and good conversation. Maybe some music. Maybe a movie. No stress, no compulsive shopping or big food prepping, no huge turkey to brine. The advantages of living abroad. There will be a time for a family Thanksgiving in the future, I guess. Only, not now.We cooked some things in advance to enjoy each others company in the evening and not stress out in the kitchen. If you think of a Thanksgiving for two next year, or even of an in-house date, this is the menu I came up with. It might look a bit fusion, a bit Italian-American. In the end, this is who we are. We are thankful everyday for that.
Roasted Guinea Fowl with Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Garlic Paste
This recipe comes from my grandma, and so does the bird. One guinea fowl serves four people, thus we used half of it. Consider roasting it 15-20 minutes longer if you are using the whole bird.
- 1/2 guinea fowl
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 fresh or dry rosemary springs
- 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 10 small potatoes
- 1T olive oilsalt and pepper to taste
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 T white winefresh or dry rosemary springs
- 1 pinch of salt
For the guinea fowl: Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse the guinea fowl and dry it well with paper towels. Heat olive oil in an oven proof pan or skillet over medium fire. Smash garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef knife and add them to the hot oil. Fry garlic in oil, about three minutes. Add the guinea fowl and cook it on each side for about three-four minutes. Add rosemary, salt, pepper and half the wine. Once the liquid has evaporated, add potatoes and place the pan into the hot oven. Bake for 15 minutes, check the cooking statuts and add the rest of the wine. Cook for 15 more minutes or until the guinea fowl is cooked though and crispy on the outside (all the liquid must have evaporated). Take it out and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.
For the potatoes (inspired by this recipe): remove from the baking pan and place on a chopping board. With a chef knife, smash potatoes by pressing them with the flat side of the knife. Transfer into a lightly oiled hot skilled and cook for three-four minutes per side, until crispy and browned. Adjust with salt and pepper and sprinkle with more dry rosemary.
For the garlic paste (inspired by this recipe): cut off the top quarter of the head of garlic, set it in a square of aluminum foil and bring up the sides. Sprinkle with salt, drizzle with oil and wine, lay the rosemary spring and enclose in foil. Set packetin the oven at the same time as the guinea fowl and cook it for 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature in the foil. Squeeze the softened garlic out of the peels. Puree in a food processer. Use for potatoes and guinea fowl. Drizzle leftover with 1T olive oil and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator up to one week.
Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans and Pomegranate Seeds
This recipe comes from a big ensemble of recipes read here and there, combined and adapted to fit our need and our current food supplies. It makes for a great side dish and a good Thanksgiving fusion recipe.
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 red onion, thinly chopped
- 1 T olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 T fresh chopped parsley
Rinse Brussels sprouts and dry well, the quarter them and set aside. On a large skillet, heat the oil over medium fire, toss the onion and cook until translucent, about three minutes. Add the sprouts, add salt and set the fire on medium-high heat. Sautee sprouts for five minutes, deglaze with wine and cook until the liquid evaporates and sprouts are tender. Set aside. On a small skillet over low heat, toast pecans for about five minutes, stirring a couple of times to avoid burning. Combine sprouts, pecans and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm.
Grandma’s Persimmon Pudding
This recipe comes from J.’s grandmother, who probably got it from her grandmother. It is a very Mid-Western dessert and it is made in fall, when small persimmons are abundant in the area. There are many versions of this recipe, especially from Indiana. We made hers and followed her instructions. This pudding is very sweet, soft and a bit chewy, almost like caramel. However, we have been told that it’s appearence changes a lot, depending on the baker’s luck. For much unappealing that it might look, it is very good. Consider eating it warm with wipped cream on top. We didn’t have any, but we’ll fix this lack soon.
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 cups persimmons pulp
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
- 3 cups whole milk
Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and persimmon pulp. Dissolve baking soda in the hot water and add to the rest of ingredients. Add 1/3 of flour and stir until dissolved, then 1/3 of milk and stir until dissolved. Repeat until all ingredients are combined together. Transfer into a 9×13-inch greased baking pan. Bake for between 1 hour and 45 minutes and 2 hours. Let it cool slightly and serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or a dollop of whipped cream.
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