It may be hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is a mere 90 days away from today. That’s right: time is a-flying, and before you know it, Turkey Day will be upon you, and you’ll be standing in your kitchen thinking to yourself “What the HELL am I going to make?” Okay, you probably won’t be saying that since Thanksgiving menus are pretty obvious, but just in case you want to spice it up this year, I’m proud to announce that my friends and I have been road-testing a few recipes.
You see, while the rest of America has been enjoying salads and corn on the cob this summer, my crew has hosted not one, but two Thanksgivings, both of which have landed on miserably hot 100°+ days. I’ll admit it was odd roasting a giant turkey breast while heat vapors outside on the street threatened to melt any slow-walking pedestrian, but we made it work.
After the jump, check out pics from our Friendsgiving meals. Hopefully they’ll provide some inspiration as we head into the final Turkey Day stretch…
First, let’s wind the clock back to May for our first Friendsgiving. Things began with a bunch of yams on a tray (also the name of my upcoming horror novel). These bad boys went in the oven at 365° for an hour or more. The key is to cook them until they are mushy and caramelized goo seeps out. Trust me: it makes all the difference when making a sweet potato casserole. When we recreated this recipe in July, we didn’t reach that gooey caramelization stage, and the dish suffered.
When the yams were cooked and tender and sweet beyond imagination, we mashed them up with a mix of bourbon, butter, orange zest, salt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and nutmeg. Not the healthiest, but this is an American holiday, and what celebration of America would be complete without a gut-busting dish or two? Nevertheless, this mess all wound up in a baking dish with a pecan streusel topping. Joy ensued.
Of course, we couldn’t neglect the bird. Since it was May, it was beyond impossible to find a reasonable whole turkey (my nearby Ralph’s supermarket was selling them for $65. Hideous). However, I did manage to find a frozen breast. And here it is.
The best part about using a breast? It was the perfect excuse to try out Ina Garten’s Herb Roasted Turkey Breast recipe. Basically, we just slathered a mix of mustard, olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon juice on the breast and under the skin. Spoiler alert: it was delicious. (But stay tuned for the July Friendsgiving for an even better recipe…)
Meanwhile, my Friendsgiving co-pilot Kambra got to work with her world famous stuffing. Let me tell you something: Kambra makes a mean stuffing. I don’t even really know what she does. In this case, I think she mixed raisin bread with sauteed celery and onions and dried fennel and sausage and broth. Kambra keeps threatening to start a cooking blog, and hopefully with a little peer pressure from the readers, she will finally launch it with this recipe.
Because Kambra and I were ahead of schedule (shocking, really), we decided to take a pause and make Ina Garten’s sidecar cocktails. As you can see, we had a plate of sugar ready for the glass rims, a lemon, and a mug of… something.
Plate o’ sugar, just in case you needed another visual.
Our cocktails, replete with dried cherry garnish.
The servings looked a little small; so we gave ourselves doubles.
Since Sidecars are classic cocktails, we just assumed these bad boys would pack a punch like a martini or an old fashioned. After all, the recipe called for merely brandy, Cointreau, and lemon juice.
However, these cocktails were far from aggressive. They were in fact incredibly refreshing, which in and of itself was refreshing, given that it was, like, 100 degrees out. Plus, they looked adorable next to my cacti.
Here I am enjoying the Sidecar.
The view on this beautiful Friendsgiving night.
Extra bonus: there was a Super Moon!
Totes super. And in case you’re wondering, I’m posting these photos because I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the cooking process. However, I do have the final product:
Our groovy spread. From left to right: homemade cranberry sauce, corn bread, homemade Hawaiian rolls (!!), turkey, salad, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, Beyoncé, and stuffing.
Not a bad spread for a Wednesday night. Also, I should mention there were only four of us.
My friend Vanessa deserves special mention for making Hawaiian rolls from scratch. I didn’t even know such a feat was possible.
The final plating is something of a hodgepodge.
What Thanksgiving would be complete without pumpkin pie? This one came courtesy of LA’s Urth Caffe.
Kambra’s not sure she can eat another bite. We all felt that way.
In case there were any questions about the pie’s size.
BUT WAIT… there’s more! Fast forward to July and our second Friendsgiving. For the turkey, I decided to use a recipe that I had used for the real Thanksgiving last year. It’s a Peruvian rub. Perhaps not super traditional, but who cares about that when you’ve got something this flavorful? Basically, we rubbed the turkey breast all over with a mix of cumin, garlic, oregano, paprika (sweet AND smoked), soy sauce, vegetable oil, and vinegar. We let it sit for an hour before sticking it in the oven and letting the amazing aromas perfume the apartment.
People, I cannot recommend the Peruvian turkey recipe highly enough. The final results were better than Ina’s Herb Roasted Turkey Breast and honestly even better than when I had made the same recipe last year. If you’re scared of pushback from traditionalists at your Thanksgiving table, just use the recipe on a chicken instead. (The recipe will be at the bottom of this post).
Anyhoo… the July Thanksgiving spread was even more impressive. This time we had turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, salad, brussels sprouts, and biscuits (with pineapple butter). Oh, and Beyoncé too.
Jaclyn and Julia: two Australians partaking in American culture. In return, I will listen to INXS a few times today.
Inevitable Thanksgiving group selfie.
And now, links to some of the recipes: