Thanksgiving 2016

Every year, millions of Americans indulge in collective act of gluttony, also
known as Thanksgiving. While most schools only have couple of days off for that particular occasion, (meaning most of them would not bother to go home)
Dartmouth students, thanks to our beloved quarter system, get a six-week break from just before Thanksgiving to the first Monday of January. This is great for all, except for internationals who have nowhere to go. Campus is usually empty
thus leaving us with no opportunity to join the feast.

Swimming team has usually been lucky enough to join our Coach’s
family for dinner, however due to his absence, we were left on our own. As I
wanted to pull off a multi-course dinner for quite some time, but never had time
and audience, I thought this might be a chance to practice my cooking skills
for a little bit. How hard could it be?

Well, it turns out, harder than it seems. Yes, you could get away by buying
frozen, ready-to-roast turkey, pre-made stuffing and
canned cranberry sauce, but that would be boring, hence I took the challenge of creating a cool menu, with some stuff that people wouldn’t have the chance to taste on their regular Thanksgiving table.

Planning the menu

Ok, so what do I want?
I know there has to be turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. But what else?
Plan was to take an element from my current projects, favourite (and untested) recepies and combine them in some sort of a weird menu. Ok, long story short:

Appetizers
  • cornets (T. Keller, French Laundry Cookbook):
    Per Se and French Laundry’s staple. Probably one of the most important appetizers in the traditional american cusine. Modified them slightly, as I
    didn’t have creme fraiche[1].
  • the field (Chefsteps): amazing little gizmo from Chefsteps’ book of wonders – had some
    spare isomalt, so I figured, why not.
  • roasted pumpkin soup: fit in quite nicely in the whole “autumnish” theme
The Feast
  • turkey porchetta (Kenji): astonishing, how a few spices can bring a turkey to a new level
  • sausage and sage stuffing (Kenji): great twist on a classic, and AC and Amy
    were very successful in the execution (thank you very much)
  • cranberry sauce: regular, with a dash of cinnamon, and a boozy one (had some spare cooking wine)
  • roasted beet salad (modified Kenji): Timo and PKang crushed this one, definitely a centerpiece
  • mash potatoes: mum’s recipe
  • roasted sweet potatoes, par-cooked, baked and tossed with local maple syrup: as Harold McGee noted, par-cooking them is super important. par-cooking them
    on 145F for about an hour really brings out the sweetness
    (from the words of the mag himself):

Moist sweet potato varieties sweeten during cooking thanks to the
action of an enzyme that attacks starch and breaks it down. The enzyme starts to make maltose when the tightly packed starch granules absorb moisture and expand, beginning around 135°F, and it stops when the rising heat denatures it, at around 170°F.

Pudding

Aftermath

Overall, it took a bit more than two days, one cut, and four minor burns. Not bad, and totally worth it.

I hope people had a good time and ate some good food. We had an opportunity to hang out together, and make a mess in the kitchen. Thanks everyone for coming,
and hope some will be here next year 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving from DCSD Orphans!


[1] An important note when making cornets:
“Using gloves is not an option, because you need to be able to work directly with them to get them to wrap and roll tight against the mold. In my experience, the best tool for doing this step expeditiously, yet carefully, is to repeat a lot of swear words in a mantra as you’re doing it. Turn those swear words into a song. Or a chant. Or a haiku. Whatever works for you. But for me? I needed to let a few expletives fly to get the job done. Sorry, Mom, but it’s true.”

[2] No, he didn’t