Monday, November 30, 2009
Giving Thanks: Our Tiny Feast
We were married the day after (American) Thanksgiving in 1998. As a result, the holiday has become a relatively intimate affair. No huge family gatherings. No record-breaking turkeys. No controversy over whole cranberry sauce versus cranberry jelly. No battle between the white and dark meat folks. And no copious leftovers.
Instead, Thanksgiving day ends up being just the two of us chatting and sipping a bit of wine as we cook up a little feast. Often, we do slightly more adventurous dishes -- rabbit ragu, turkey mole, roast duck.
This year, we decided to create a variation on the usual Thanksgiving theme. First, it was our goal to be as local as possible -- so we started off by visiting the Milwaukee Winter Market for our ingredients. We procured a delicious little pheasant from the GBM Elk Farm, a pound of fresh brussels sprouts from Jen Ehr Family Farm, and some delicious Wisconsin cranberries, fresh Italian sausage, and from Outpost Natural Foods. I grabbed a few leeks out of our backyard garden, took the stone ground corn meal from Great River Organic Milling out of the fridge.
We put together a delicious savory bread pudding with homemade corn bread, cranberries, Italian sausage, fontina, and leeks. By far one of the best recipes I've come up with in a long time -- this bread pudding/dressing was even better as a leftover and simply perfect reheated and eaten for breakfast over the holiday weekend!
We brined our pheasant, and then roasted it with a few strips of Beeler's bacon on top, resulting in a very tender, flavorful bird. My one complaint about the dish is that the brine effectively masked a good percentage of the pheasant's natural flavor, so I'm not sure I'd use it again on a pheasant. But, I'm definitely interested in using the recipe on my next turkey.
Recipe: Wisconsin Brine
And we braised our brussels sprouts with apples in a bit of apple juice seasoned with crushed juniper berries. This turned out to be one of the most interesting dishes of the day. We were definitely surprised by the flavor the juniper berries brought to the dish (more sweet and peppery than piney) -- and we'll be sharing the recipe with you soon, since it's definitely a dish to experience.
I hope each and every one of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving (for those of you in the states who were celebrating) and/or weekend! Rest assured, one of the things we've been thankful for over the past year is your friendship, readership, and great advice. Blogging has changed the way we live, cook, and eat. And it's all because of you!
©BURP! Where Food Happens