Thanksgiving 2011: Special “New Frangland” Edition.
Part I: Preamble
Tippy top-shelf guest list was not accurately represented, though 14 friendly orphans gathered around a table instead and provided exceptional company for an enjoyable feast. Similar to and inspired by 2009’s successful Old-World meets New-World premise, a coastal New England menu was devised using traditional autumn ingredients with traditional French techniques. Stalwart perennials included mulled cider, charcuterie, soup, turkey breast and legs cooked separately, Jansson’s temptation, cheese and dessert. Due to unshakable unemployment since returning from France, certain tasks were outsourced so as to alleviate the financial burden, in this case the adroitly mulled cider, mustache-force roasted nuts, selective cheese, ethereal dessert and, as always, libations.
Slightly sticky, sweet, spicy, crunchy nuts roasted in a light butter caramel arrived courtesy of a former colleague and provided a welcome start to the evening. 2 variations of properly mulled cider were spearheaded by another guests and offered the essential social lubricant. Warm apple cider infused with allspice, clove, star anise and cinnamon and proposed with either dark rum or bourbon steeped with dried apple chips and raisins. Fantastic. Pickled sour Mexican gherkins and yellow wax beans from the garden supplied essential acidity to whet the appetite and balance the delectable rillettes.
Bostonmackerel, appropriately, was pickled in my red wine vinegar with carrots and red onions, dressed with extra virgin French olive oil and eaten with the help of antique cocktail forks bought at Ruff & Ready for a song. Firm, pleasantly sour and a crunch from the carrots. Nice contrast to the sweet cider and stoopid good rillettes.
Far and away the most luscious element of the preamble was the unctuous and resourceful smoked turkey rillettes. Cured and smoked turkey drumsticks were acquired from the venerable and aptly named Bestworld for pocket change and simmered in Berkshire pork leaf lard, bay leaf and peppercorns for a few ticks longer than the duration of, of…of…? until thoroughly hammered. Strained from the smoky fat, the meat was cleaned of the miserable plastic-like tendons that make turkey (and pheasant) legs so unappealing and exhaustingly paddled by modern technology with the incorporation of the fat until smooth and pasty. Some premium octane German mustard and sherry vinegar for balance. Potted in a pot, covered with remaining fat and left to do its thing in the fridge for a couple days.
I’ve been unabashedly bashful about some of the culinary flops documented in gustatory diary. The rillettes is not one of them. Tippiest toppest shelf product and formidable in its properly proportioned complexity. Smoky, rich, salty, smooth, creamy, mustard heat, tartness from the vinegar, appealing color and an all around intoxicating aroma. I’d gladly be embalmed with it if Root or Van Gogh espresso is not available.
Hearty crackers were an essential vehicle for consuming the poultry alchemy and a spit-shone curvy antique fish knife was the proper tool for administering such a voluptuous yet austere product on said cracker.