Bourbon Pecan Tart
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, I have always enjoyed getting people together and enjoying good food and drink. Unfortunately I have the type of job that requires me to work holidays and this year was one of those years. In the past I have always focused on the pies and have made as many as 22 pies for Thanksgiving. This year I had to work in the evening and had the morning and some of the afternoon to enjoy some food. I also now have the space to entertain and invite family and friends for the holidays. My wife and I kept it small this year and invited her parents and her brother for lunch. I have not had the opportunity to cooking an entire Thanksgiving feast so I thought it would be fun to plan the whole menu and do all the main dishes you would expect at a Thanksgiving dinner.
I didn't go overboard this year on the pies and chose to make just one pie, I know most people would say that pumpkin is the primary pie at thanksgiving but for me it is always a pecan pie. When done correctly a pecan pie is as good as anything I have ever eaten. I also decided to make a Bourbon pecan tart that was equally fantastic, I didn't want to focus to much on the dessert because I was going to be doing all the other dishes and at Thanksgiving it is all about the turkey so I thought I would focus on the bird.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
For the turkey I decided to brine the bird and roast it in the oven. For my brine I used a basic solution of water, salt and sugar then added lemon, garlic, onion and an assortment of fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme, sage, parsley and black pepper) I soaked the turkey for 24 hours and then dried it completely and let it stand in the fridge for anther 12 hours. I roasted the turkey for 3 hours at 375 at it was the most tender and juicy turkey I have ever had. I am certain that brining a turkey is the only way to go. I have been eating turkey left overs every day and am still enjoying it. We made smoked cheddar and turkey omelets the morning after and made a wonderful turkey poutine over the weekend. My favorite of all left overs though was the thanksgiving sandwich, a couple pieces of toasted bread with stuffing, turkey, cranberry relish and gravy, it is always a great sandwich.
As far as side dishes go I made a sausage bread stuffing that had mushrooms and pecans in it. The stuffing was wonderful and you could tasted all the elements in ever bite. The pecans added a sweet nuttyness and great texture to the stuffing. I decided not to go overboard on the potatoes and only did sweet potatoes and not mashed potatoes I made an apricot glazed sweet potato with a combination of yams and sweet potatoes, it also was very good. There were a couple of standard the cranberry relish and the green bean casserole but my absolute favorite was the sausage stuffed acorn squash. It was a combination of stuffing cubes and corn bread stuffing mixed with dried cranberries and Italian sausage stuffed inside and acorn squash and baked. They were and will be my new favorite thanksgiving side dish.
It turned out to be a great meal and I got to enjoy it over and over as the weekend went on. I love cooking for the holidays and love cooking for my family and friends. This Christmas may be Chinese take out because I have a new baby coming that week so I might not be in a cooking mood but if I am I do have a whole leg of venison that would make an incredible centerpiece to a meal. We will have to see how things turn out.