Friday, 5 December 2014

How not to do Thanksgiving, big styleeeee.......

This is our Thanksgiving 'feast' from last week...... 

and how not to do it like we did. 

Hubby has been working Saturdays the last few weeks and since we don't get Thursday off here in good-old-Europe, we decided to postpone the Thanksgiving dinner we wanted to have to Sunday. 

So far, so good. 

Then we opted for duck, as that had worked really well a couple of years ago with friends and family, when our turkey supply dried up suddenly (our supermarket lost our order and we had no time to defrost!). 

Again, all still fine as rain. 

Then we tried to find the recipe we had used 24 months before. Hmmm..... first difficulties rearing their heads. Finally, after much hunting, we found what we thought was the recipe and set to work. 

A week-or-so before I had been at the doctors, in one of those endless waiting queues, which gave me plenty of time to peruse the offered magazines. Most of the interesting ones were on holiday food, bursting with glossy pictures of mouth-watering recipes - you know the kind - and so I took pictures of some of the recipes, looking to try at least a couple of them out. 

First of all, the marinade for the duck. One of the aforesaid recipe finds, calling for dark beer, maple syrup, some pepper and orange peel. The duck soaked overnight while we fell asleep counting ducks with lovely crispy beer-flavoured skin.

The first point of action on Sunday was the stuffing, also a recipe find, calling for plenty of gingerbread, cranberries and winter spices. Upon reading the recipe, I decided to replace half the ginger bread with bread cubes in order to lighten up the mixture a bit. Lots of ginger and a shot of red wine replacing the port called for in the recipe were added for a good savoury balance. As you can see, we were all for the experimenting this year. 

As you can see in the mix, very pretty, no? 

Stuffed and trussed, the bird went into the pan, on top of the roast potatoes-to-be. Not usually our way of doing it, but we went with the recipe. 

At this point of the proceedings, after I had done the stuffing, Hubby took over, as my blood pressure decided to plummet and proceed through some roller-coaster-riding, sending me to the sofa. He diligently followed the recipes and I joined in again to get out the cold accompaniments, while Hubby went to take the duck apart. 

This is where the real difficulties began. While the skin on the top-side looked browned, the bottom was left uncooked and inedible, also making cutting the duck apart rather challenging, as it was more slippery than expected. Imagine attempting to separate a leg from the bird, which is doing what a dead bird can to slither off the cutting board and across the table top while you are desperately hanging on to the scrawny calf bone. Shame, really, it looked quite nice to begin with, don't you think?

The drama continued as we sat down and realised that we had forgotten the greens, our brussels sprouts. Not only that but the potatoes and stuffing had drastically cooled down during the arduous carving of the duck, as Hubby took lovely pictures, but had forgotten to put the lids on the bowls again. 

And the taste!!!! No beer flavour to be tasted on any of the edible skin or the duck meat, even after 24 hours soaking. And never ever again will we veer off that far from my family's traditional stuffing recipe. It looked and tasted like mushy, cooked fruit cake, something I really, really dislike. None of the ginger or any other savoury contrasts remained. Neither the stuffing in the duck nor that baked in the separate dish (the recipe made too much, but that is normally not a problem, as we love stuffing) was edible to us. 

Lesson learned: stuffing from German food recipes are not for us! 

The potatoes had soaked up so much of the duck fat, despite copious draining, that I did not dare inflict more than one on my already shaky stomach. 

To top it all off, of course, while we were in the middle of our somewhat uncomfortable meal, my mother-in-law placed her weekly my-son-might-have-died-in-the-last-seven-days call, leaving her usual 'It's only me.' message, and calling again ten minutes later, only to find that we were still not in any state to answer the phone. 

A silly argument and some venting later, we settled down to eat what was edible, and resolved not to stray from our tried-and-tested nuggets again, and to search harder for that duck recipe next time. 

There you go, that was our how-not-to Thanksgiving!

Stay tuned for our great holiday recipes (not the ones used here!) in the run-up to Christmas. 


PS: Hier geht es um unser etwas-in-die-Hose-gegangenes Thanksgiving Essen. 

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