Roast turkey; sausage, corn bread, and herb stuffing; pan gravy; classic mashed potatoes; baked pears and cranberries; sweet potato casserole with maple-pecan topping; roasted brussels sprouts.
In our family, Chuck and I take over Thanksgiving. The holiday has been presumptively ours to host since we graduated from law school. The first year, we offered to host it because we lived very close to the Plaza, where there is a spectacular lighting display that begins Thanksgiving night. We had dinner and then walked down to watch them turn on the lights.
That first dinner was a bit of a scream. When we moved after graduation, we hadn't wanted to move in together--we'd only been dating for a few months. I found a great apartment that was just my style at the time: cool neighborhood, very close to work, hardwood floors, crown moldings, cheap rent. (Only downside: laundry located in extremely creepy, Silence-of-the-Lambs-style basement.) Chuck took the vacant apartment above mine. And when we hosted our families for that first Thanksgiving dinner, we had to use both tiny kitchens to make all the food. We carried supplies and steaming plates up and down our back steps.
So now, everyone comes to our house. I love it every year. It's worth the work of planning the menu, shopping, cleaning the house, cooking. I love making these recipes. I love the excuse to get out the good china. I especially love when my kitchen office space becomes a temporary bar.
We don't try to have a sit-down dinner. Everything gets served buffet style.
In the front is Deanna's fabulous bourbon sweet potatoes. Next to that, brussels sprouts, tossed in olive oil and duck fat and roasted, then drizzled with maple syrup. The big platter has the turkey and stuffing, which I improvised this year and which I thought came out great.
Sausage and cornbread stuffing (serves 18)
1 lb. bulk pork sausage
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 T minced garlic
6 cups (one recipe) brown butter cornbread, crumbled and left to dry overnight
6 cups plain dry breadcrumbs
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
2 T minced fresh sage, or 1 T dried
2 T fresh thyme, or 1 T dried
Brown the sausage over medium heat until fully cooked. When it's cooked, remove from the pan and finely crumble it. Set aside. In the same pan, pour off all but one T fat. Melt the butter in the pan. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and saute until soft.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; allow the mixture to cool before adding the eggs. Add the chicken stock judiciously--add more if the mixture seems dry, or less if it seems to be getting soggy. Use it to stuff a turkey, or spread it in a large baking dish and bake at 325 for an hour.