It's been a blur of a Thanksgiving week. Coordinating 12 members of family and close family friends from 5 different cities was like herding cats, and my apartment is now officially a wreck, but it was well worth it.
Many, many awesome food related things happened during this time: special burgers, major feasting, home-cooked Southern goodness, and eating our way through Portland. Somehow I managed to not take an entire photo all weekend, but hopefully I can round up some photos and get those posted eventually.
It all began on Wednesday night, when one of my dearest friends in the world flew into Portland with a most special package in hand: a box of Double-Doubles from In'N'Out Burger, straight outta Los Angeles, to feed the entire kitchen crew at work. I have literally dreamed about shipping In'N'Out to Portland before, and this was better than I could have hoped for. Yes, they were six hours old by the time they arrived, but a few minutes in the oven did the trick and I swear I haven't had that good of a burger in ages. Thanks again, Ben! Can't wait to visit LA and have it fresh outta the drive-in.
That night, Ben and I stayed up until 3 AM pickling apples and making a cranberry compote out of the November issue of Gourmet (the same issue in which my restaurant makes an appearance, wink wink). The apple pickling was my first attempt at pickling at home, and they came out the perfect taste and texture. I packed up the pickles, compote, my knife kit, an apron, and some other helpful goodies and Thursday morning we were off to meet the rest of the crew on a beautiful farm in central Washington. It's smack in the middle of the Cascade range, and I couldn't help but keep thinking I was in the Misty Mountains in Middle Earth when the fog rolled in in the afternoon.
As always, the Thanksgiving menu was a bit ambitious, and I think this year's qualifies as the most ambitious yet. Though I'm giving myself a pat on the back for actually have a proper prep list this year! I came up with a menu last Monday, put together a prep list on Tuesday, sent it to my brother, and my brother and mom took a big trip to Whole Foods to get all the goodies before heading to the farm. With quite a bit of help from family and friends with prepping and washing dishes, we managed to produce the following menu:
-Heirloom turkey, dry brined by my brother and served with a pan gravy that needed zero seasoning because the drippings were so flavorful
-Rack of lamb, oven-roasted to medium-rare
-Wild mushroom, spinach and ciabatta stuffing; one veggie version and another with Italian sausage and bacon fat
-Butternut squash and ginger soup, finished with white truffle oil
-Heirloom beet salad in an oregano sherry vinaigrette with warm fennel puree and pickled apples
-Cranberry compote with quince, fresh pearl onions, cloves and coriander
-Cast-iron roasted Brussels sprouts with garlic and lemon
-Oven-roasted root vegetables: carrots, parsnips and fingerling potatoes
-Green bean casserole with fresh green beans, horseradish aioli, crimini mushrooms and fried onions
We could have fed twice the number of people we actually did. Of all the things I made that day, I was the most happy with the green bean casserole. It wasn't my absolute favorite thing on the menu (I think that honor would go to the lovely, slightly gamey turkey), but I was stoked that I made up a way of recreating the classic canned bean and cream of mushroom soup recipe with fresh ingredients. And it was, after all, pretty scrumptious.
We ate until we were bursting, and then surprised my sister with a chocolate mousse cake for her birthday, which fell on Thanksgiving day. We dug into one of the three fabulous pumpkin pies that Christy's mom Doris made, and between the sweets and eight games of Boggle, the night left me sated.
I woke up Friday morning to the scent and sound of country sausage frying, and we feasted on a late breakfast of Doris' authentically southern biscuits and gravy, perfectly scramble eggs fresh from chickens on the farm, and homemade jams and jellies. Those biscuits may have been the best I've ever had. Top three biscuits of all time, definitely. How I managed to find space for such a huge breakfast after Thursday's gorging remains a mystery, but I've never been one to turn down a good meal.
Coming soon: Part II, onward to Portland...