Considering that Thanksgiving is this week (how did that happen?) We realize that this year we have a lot to be thankful for. Thankful for family, friends, our health, and all those beautiful things we get to see throughout the year. These are the same things we are always thankful for, but this holiday allows us to express these feelings outwardly, and with a full heart.
An early version of the beloved tradition of the Thanksgiving feast.
To the two of us the holidays are always about good food. Old traditional dishes made for generations and new dishes that are yet untested make up the landscape of our holiday celebrations.
Here are our two takes on the ultimate culinary holiday:
The inspiration for this year's Thanksgiving.
CONSIDER THE OYSTER…
“Food is not a metaphor for life, it is life, and eating is an art, and often the place and time help make a food what it becomes, even more than the food itself.”
MFK Fisher's "Consider The Oyster".
Many of you may be familiar with the great food writer M.F.K. Fisher, and I am always quick to recall her book Consider the Oyster when the holidays are upon us; more specifically, as I am directed to prepare the great side dish of scalloped oysters for my father at the royal meal. Ms. Fisher’s book is filled with descriptions and recipes of “everything oyster”.
The incomperable James Beard.
However, that being said, this year I’m going to venture into the unknown and take a stab at James Beard’s version of same in his book American Cookery. And as I prepare his recipe for scalloped oysters, I will remember those mornings back in the late 1970’s when, right out of college and on my way to work, I would spot him taking his “morning constitutional” down California Street in San Francisco.
James Beard's American Cookery Cookbook.
James Beard’s Scalloped Oysters
1 stick (1/2 c) butter
1-1 ½ c freshly rolled cracker crumbs
1 ½ pints oysters
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Butter a 1-½ quart baking dish and cover with a layer of cracker crumbs. Add a layer of half the oysters and another of cracker crumbs. Dot with butter and add seasonings. Make another layer of oysters and another layer of cracker crumbs. Dot again with butter and add seasonings. Pour the liquids over the top. Finally sprinkle with buttered breadcrumbs. Bake 25 min at 400 degrees.
GOURMET IS THE WAY!
Even though I don’t like the term, I do consider myself a “Foodie” (I actually prefer the term “Gourmand” but it sounds a bit haughty). I get excited by the likes of truffles from the ground, lardo and local artisanal cheeses. We are fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay area, as some would call it a “Gourmand’s heaven”! If there is amazing food to be had, we can find it here!
When a traditional turkey is not a traditional turkey.
Because Thanksgiving has become, in my opinion a giant cliché with regard to food, I prefer to make variations on traditional dishes rather than having staunch tradition dictate my offering.
The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichel.
This year I have committed to making stuffing. I did my usual perusal of epicurious.com and found a wonderful recipe for Cornbread and Chorizo stuffing. This was the perfect choice because it’s still stuffing, but not the same old same old. This particular recipe came from Gourmet Magazine (May they Rest In Peace)…Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
A twist on tradition. Cornbread and Chorizo stuffing.
Corn-Bread and Chorizo Stuffing
From Gourmet Magazine 2008 by Lillian Chou
Skillet Corn Bread
1/4 pound Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage), casing removed and sausage chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
4 celery ribs, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.
Crumble corn bread into 1/2-inch pieces, spreading out in 1 layer in 2 large 4-sided sheet pans. Bake, stirring occasionally, until dry, about 20 minutes. Cool completely and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, cook chorizo in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onions, celery, garlic, oregano, and 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add to corn bread.
Whisk together broth and egg, then pour over stuffing and toss well. Transfer to baking dish and cover tightly with buttered foil. Bake in upper third of oven 1 hour. Remove foil and bake until top is golden, about 15 minutes more.