Day 33, Thankful, Quarantine Kitchen

Day 33, Thankful, Quarantine Kitchen

When I was a kid, this picture by Normal Rockwell graced the Saturday Evening Post magazine.  I looked at it, and thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a dinner where everyone was happy, smiling, and not stressed out.  Years later, my most requested recipes have been for a Do-Ahead Thanksgiving dinner that I have taught all over the country to thousands of students.  I love hearing from students that their children are now making the dinner, and they couldn't imagine Thanksgiving without cranberry chutney or Gulliver's corn.
So, on day 33, I decided it was time to have Thanksgiving dinner; truth be told a local supermarket had some turkeys in the meat case for Easter, and I decided to take one home--fresh turkeys have about a 10-day refrigerator shelf life, so I wasn't sure when we would eat this little 10-pound guy. 
It's possible to make a Thanksgiving dinner on a weeknight and it softened for a few hours the sad national death statistics, and the horrific stories of families not being with their loved ones. 
Who can you be sad with the prospect of turkey, gravy, dressing, gravy, and veg?  The meal just makes you smile, and you remember Thanksgivings past.  There is something about this meal that comforts and soothes.  Our son and his girlfriend have been eating with us, basically, it's easier to cook for 4 people and send them home with leftovers.  And, I'm just thankful that people are trying to obey guidelines, and we are still well and safe.  So, here's our dinner with a few recipes, all simple, and do-ahead.  By the way, 4 people demolished this little guy--next time I'll go for the 14 pounder.

Gulliver's Corn
Serves 6 to 8
Gulliver's was a California restaurant chain that was famous for prime rib dinners, but the prize was their side dishes, fluffy mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and this amazing corn. It belies the sum of its parts and is gone in a flash.

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese        
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Two 16-ounce bags frozen white corn, defrosted, or kernels cut from 8 ears of sweet corn
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1.      Brush a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with some of the butter.  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the Parmesan over the bottom of the dish and tilt so the cheese is evenly distributed and adheres to the butter.  (or if you would like, you can use 4-ounce ramekins for individual servings)
2.      In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to boil.  Add the corn, salt, and sugar, and heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture is almost at a boil   
3.      In the meantime, make a paste out of the remaining melted butter and the flour. Stir it into the mixture in the saucepan and cook until thickened and the liquid does come to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the mixture to the prepared dish, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of cheese.
4.      Do-Ahead: At this point, you can let cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
5.      Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the corn dish until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  (Individual ramekins will take about 15 to 20 minutes)
Lower Fat Option: If you would prefer to skip the cream, try whole milk; it’s not as luxurious, but it does the job.  

Old Fashioned Dressing
Stuffs a 14 pound turkey, or makes one 13-by-9-inch baking dish
Dressing is cooked outside the bird, stuffing is cooked inside the bird.  This a basic recipe, and the one from my childhood.  This is the most parochial of the sides at Thanksgiving; everyone's mom makes the best.  Feel free to make your fave.  Use your favorite structures white bread, and toast it in the oven.    

1 cup butter
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
12 cups stale dry bread cubes
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken broth
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and coat the inside of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Cook the celery, onion, sage, and thyme in the butter over low heat and stir until the onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper Place the bread cubes in a mixing bowl, add the celery mixture, and pour some broth over the dressing ingredients, making sure that the broth is absorbed by the bread.  Add the egg, stir to blend.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and at this point, you can cool, cover and refrigerate the stuffing for up to 24 hours.  When ready to bake, remove the casserole from the oven for 45 minutes before baking to bring to room temperature.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, basting with turkey drippings halfway through the cooking time.  
Cook's note:  If you are serving a crowd, stuff the dressing into greased loaf pans and bake as directed.  Turn the stuffing out of the loaf pans, and let rest for 5 minutes.  Cut the stuffing with a serrated knife that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray and arrange the slices on a platter.

I stuff the bird with the dressing/stuffing; that's what I grew up with and it's what we do here.  Make sure the dressing/stuffing reaches 170 on an instant-read meat thermometer, and remove all the stuffing from the bird immediately.

Roasted Asparagus
Serves 4

1 pound asparagus, tough stems removed
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, silicone or parchment.  
Put the asparagus onto the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, rolling the asparagus in the oil to coat.  
Roast for 5 minutes, until crisp/tender.  Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.  
This was my plate; I love dark meat, and I made some haricot verte to go with our dinner. If you looking for great do-ahead recipes Perfect Party Food and Happy Holidays will help you out. As we go into this next week, I wish you peace; stay well and stay safe.                                                                                                     
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