Thanksgiving is all about tradition and family. I thought over the 10 years my husband and I have been together that I knew what the key dishes were for him. Early on he and I had a conversation about sweet potatoes. He loves them and I was like, well good luck cause I can’t smell them or I want to ralf, but marriage is about compromise and even sometimes doing things you don’t want to.
That first Thanksgiving when we were living in London I found a recipe for a sweet potato au gratin. I was hoping that since it used fresh sweet potatoes with other types of potatoes that it might not bring back my childhood memories that give me such a visceral reaction. It turned out to not be too bad and I managed to eat some. Due to this who experience ever since then I have been trying to ensure sweet potatoes in one way or another make it to the table.
It turns out that as much as my husband loves sweet potatoes, if he had to pick, mashed potatoes and gravy are way more important. Which is ironic since this was the first year I wasn’t planning on doing mashed potatoes, as I didn’t deem them too important. It was a bit comical when a week before Thanksgiving I was at the grocery store buying the last few items and at check out I struck up a conversation with the cashier. I mentioned that all my shopping was now done! She was shocked and impressed. I followed that up with, “well that is of course unless my mother in law or my husband say they have to have mashed potatoes because I didn’t buy any”. She was shocked and was like “What!? No potatoes!” I told her that if any one wanted them that bad they could go to the store and get them… Now, in hindsight I was placing a giant jinx on myself.
I gave in and got what we would need. Now, if I am going to go through the effort of making mashed potatoes I want them to be good. I don’t mean just some pillowy bland pile to sop up gravy. I would want something that really made an impression. This could only mean one thing, Pomme Purées. This is a velvety smooth rich indulgence that uses nearly two pounds of potatoes, one pound of butter, and a bit more than a cup of whole milk. One thing is for sure these potatoes are something you’ll remember. Thankfully I could give the task of making them to my husband while I got to work on my gravy.
The big question with the gravy is lumpy or no? Now when I say lumpy I don’t mean unblended flour or cornstarch, I mean adding finely minced meat back into the gravy once it was made. Turns out another thing I learned about my husband. He likes it lumpy. This was good news to me as the recipe I was going to use from Chefsteps.com offered a lumpy alternative to their gravy that used the giblets. All the giblets, so the heart, gizzard, and liver. What’s even better is that it used the wings and a lot of stock.
One of the things I have noticed year after year of doing these big Thanksgiving meals is that the easy to get to meat mostly will get eaten but so much of the Turkey isn’t truly enjoyed as part of the Thanksgiving meal. This is what lead me to the notion of doing both White Meat and Dark Meat Roulades. By taking out all of the bones before ever cooking the turkey I was left with a pile of yummy parts to find new uses for. The carcass, neck, leg bones, and tail all go into my stock, then the wings and the giblets become the gravy, and not a bit of the bird is wasted. What’s great is the stock is used in my soup, my stuffing, the gravy, and even in the green bean casserole.
All together I am thankful that I have great communication with my husband to learn what truly matters in making a holiday memorable and that I now have a way to make the whole bird play a role in the meal to come.