My family begins Thanksgiving by running the Turkey Trot in Prospect Park. This is a tradition that began over 12 years ago. Now our 16-year-old son, Lisa’s sister, our nephew, Pinky (one of our cooks), Lee (our maitre’d), and any of the servers we can convince all join in. Although I am also a runner, I usually make a trip over to the restaurant to pick up supplies and to do some prep work for dinner, then race back to cheer everyone at the finish line.
While we try not to go too heavy on the hors d’ouerves, somehow we always do. We like to begin the meal with oysters and champagne, pâté, cheese, and bread. Now that our children are older it is so much more fun because they participate in the preparation and really enjoy the meal, the extended family – all of it – the house full of cousins, fire in the fireplace and football on the TV…football, of course, being an integral atmospheric part of any American mainstream Thanksgiving! The background noise of the Cowboys and Cardinals playing each other is very similar to the calming feeling we all get when our house shakes every time the B or the Q pass by. Like the waves of the ocean lapping the shoreline.
As for the main event, we generally have the classic stuff – Brussels sprouts and chestnuts, sweet potatoes any which way, potatoes au gratin (gratin dauphinoise), stuffing always with spicy italian sausage from The Vanderbilt, etc…For dessert it’s apple, pecan, pumpkin, and lemon merinque pie, with lots of schlag (whipped cream). Man!
And with the leftovers? Soup, sandwiches and potpies!!!
Here’s a recipe for a great Thanksgiving stuffing.
Blood Sausage, Carmelized Apple, and Chestnut Stuffing
- 1 loaf white bread unsliced cut into 2 in slices then cube into 1 in square pieces
- 3 six in links of blood sausage or morcilla (same thing)
- 1 cup cubed smoked bacon
- 3 apples peeled, cored and cut into 1/6′s
- 2 cups peeled chestnuts
- 2 cups diced spanish onions
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon quatre spice
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 6 whole eggs
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- Render bacon for about 5 minutes add chestnuts and cook until both have a nice color
- Add the onions, celery, and garlic to the pot – continue cooking until the onions and celery are soft and sweet
- Season with salt and pepper, taste, add thyme leaves and cook a touch more, put into a large bowl and let cool
- Deglaze the bottom of the pan with a bit of brandy and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, pour and scrape the remains into the bowl with the onion mix. Clean the pot and dry.
- Heat the pot to a medium high heat, add a knob of butter and a couple table spoons of sugar to the pan, then add the apples cook the apples until they have nice color but have not turned soft – remember you will cook them a bit more when you cook the stuffing. When the apples are done, add them to the bowl with the onion mix.
- In a mid-size bowl add the eggs and beat lightly, then add the chicken stock and the heavy cream – mix the season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Dice two of the links of blood sausage and add to the mixture in the bowl. Slice the remaining links into eight equal slices. Set aside.
- Now add the cubed bread, sage, and the egg mix to the bowl. Fold everything together carefully until everything is evenly mixed. Let sit for 5 minutes then mix again – repeat process
- Now fill a stuffing dish with the mixture, mounding it slightly, then take the remaining slices of blood sausage and decorate the top of the stuffing with it in a star-like pattern. Dot the top with butter and season.
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes