Thanksgiving this year was both a challenge and a pleasure. The pre-Turkey Day prep didn’t go as planned, which left us making a full dinner, both indoors and out in less than four hours. (And Thank God for smoker grills!) I’m not totally used to our new oven, and there just isn’t enough room for the two of us in that kitchen. Thankfully we’ll be looking to buy a home at our next duty station.
The meal, however frazzled its prep may have been, was fabulous. I started things off with something that was traditional at all of my holiday gatherings as a kid. Growing up in a predominantly Italian community, the antipasto platter was present at any large gathering, and I couldn’t have friends over without laying out one of my own.
This one featured Prosciutto, Mortadella, Sopresetta, Mozzarella, Italian Dry Salami, Garlic stuffed olives, ripe black olives, pepperoncini, pepper jack cheese (a nod to Sonoma, my home town and the place that pepper jack was invented) a variety of veggies and the ranch dip that came with the store-bought veggie platter. Poor thing never had a chance
From there we moved to an abridged version of my original T-Day menu, but really there was still more than anyone could have put a serious dent into.
This year’s dinner was turkey, ham, roast beef, traditional Southern cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, ham gravy, collard greens, rolls and twice baked sweet potato casserole. More than enough for four adults and 1 1/2 kids, wouldn’t you say?
The surprise star of the show was the ham. Since I didn’t have enough time to cook it as I had planned to the night before, I fired up my smoker and tossed its spiral-sliced butt (pun intended) into a tray and into a 350 degree smoke box. I’ve never had better, and it just became a holidy prerequisite. It’s simple and its fabulous.
After several hours of chatting and absorbing good company, we went our respective ways and a good portion of the food was packaged up. The turkey I made the day before Thanksgiving, half the leftover dressing and the cranberry sauce was delivered to the dormitories for Airmen that could not make it home for the holidays.
My wife was showered with thank-you’s and even a few tears. Good wishes sent to me through her and in the end, a few people who would have otherwise had a less than enjoyable holiday got to go to bed happy and full with a home cooked meal to warm them. Whatever trouble I went through to make that happen was worth all the effort, and has already been forgotten. I’ll do it again, happily.
And there you have it folks, a perfect day of giving thanks. I’ll remember this one for a very long time.
Oh, and be looking for the perfect apple pie recipe to show on my front page very soon. The one our friends brought is the best I’ve ever had. Of course I got the recipe.