My husband’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving Day. From childhood he has always loved the annual ritual of stuffing both turkeys and bellies.
Quantity was of primary importance; turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, gravy by the bucket and pies, pies, pies. In my family it was the same way but we added potato salad and mustard greens, sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin.
At the beginning of our marriage, this day of gluttony was not a cause for contention. We would have the meal at his or my family’s house filled with our relatives. The women worked in the kitchen, the men drank in the living room and the children ran wild. It was a family party! I loved that.
The problem began when we traveled overseas and had no relatives with which to celebrate this uniquely American family holiday. The first year we attended a turkey-less, potluck, buffet Thanksgiving with the rest of the American Embassy community, but we agreed that it just wasn’t the same because 1) my husband thought that there wasn’t enough food and 2) I thought that not everyone who cooks knows how. Reluctant to participate again, the following year I just invited 10 friends over for a sit down, not quite traditional, Thanksgiving lunch that I cooked myself. It was okay but it didn’t feel like a celebration to me and my husband thought that there wasn’t enough food.
The next year I refused to cook Thanksgiving dinner altogether and suggested we go out to a restaurant for lunch and just be thankful that we weren’t going to the potluck. The only reason my husband didn’t divorce me was that he would have felt ridiculous telling the lawyer that I wouldn’t make Thanksgiving dinner for 20 when there was only two of us.
When we had our son Brian, my husband was so sure things would change! In October of the year that Brian was eating solid food, he polished a miniature set of sterling silver (fork, knife, spoon) and showed them to me.
Me: Those are nice! Where did you get them?
Him: I had them when I was a child
Me: You should not have brought them to Africa, you could lose them!
Him: I wanted Brian to use them for Thanksgiving.
Me: I am NOT making enough food for 20, we are only three people!
So that’s why.
There are turkeys at the commissary but Jade is in school, Brian is in Burkina Faso and there are only two of us. If we were in France, we would eat with M. Parret and I would make a small turkey with stuffing and gravy. There would be at least 8 of us at the table, there would certainly be enough food, and every meal with the Parret is a celebration. Next year in Sens.
This was time consuming but although the quantities would need to be increased, it wouldn’t take any longer to make this for a full sized family. The superior stuffing and gravy always makes this combination worthwhile. Those zweiback toasts were slightly sweet but the stuffing was fine, I just wouldn’t use them again.
Tomorrow is not a holiday in Germany so I’ll be going to the hairdresser and doing a little Christmas shopping with my husband later. This meal should soften him up for major Euro spending
Thanksgiving Dinner for Two
1 cornish game hen
Salt and pepper
1 small onion, quartered
4 sprigs of thyme
Broth and Stuffing
1 cup chicken gizzards
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, quartered vertically and sliced thin
1 celery branch, quartered vertically and sliced thin
1 small onion, quartered
1 carrot, sliced into four pieces
1 celery branch, sliced into 4 pieces
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
Salt and pepper
3 cups of super dry toast, broken into pieces in a large bowl
1 1/2 tbsp poultry seasoning
1/4 cup melted butter
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp flour
Season the hen all over with salt and pepper, then rub with olive oil. stuff the onion quarters and thyme sprigs into the cavity. Refrigerate.
Brown the gizzards in the olive oil, remove and set aside. Add the chopped onion, sliced carrot and sliced celery branch to the skillet and sweat until the carrot is crisp tender. Remove and set aside, reserving the skillet for later use.
Place the gizzards, the small quartered onion, carrot pieces, celery pieces, bay leaf and water in a stock pot, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, then simmer for an hour. Drain and reserve the broth, remove the gizzards and chop fine.
Put half of the chopped gizzards in with the dry toast, all of the reserved sauteed vegetables, the melted butter, the poultry seasoning and 1 1/2 cup of broth. Stir well, then turn into a baking pan.
Place the hen into a 375 F oven and roast for 50 minutes. After 30 minutes, add the stuffing pan to the oven to cook for the last 20 minutes.
Place the flour and vegetable oil in the reserved skillet and cook stirring until the flour is a pleasant dark brown. Gradually add, stirring all the time, 3 cups of the broth and stir until smooth. Turn down the flame and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the gravy has reached your desired thickness. Stir in the remaining half of chopped gizzards.
Wine suggestion: Merlot