Family is such a dynamic thing. Missing out on time spent with my the people I love is something that I feel acutely. I want to see how my littlest sister is faring in high school. I want to hear all about my brother's escapades as a college freshman (and pretend that I was wilder and crazier in my day). I want to unload my own problems and adventures on my parents and see in their faces that I'm not the first to experience such things. I want to sit quietly with my grandparents, appreciate the stories I have probably heard dozens of times before, and mark the passing of one more precious year with them. I want my older relatives to mark how far I've come from the little boy who always got his nice clothes dirty playing wiffle ball with the cousins. I want to sit across from my girlfriend, nurture the traditions of our own little family, share a bottle of wine, and wait for the day (decades from now) when we can look back and say, "I remember when..."
But these are strange times! I sit here in my Berkeley apartment, a thousand miles from "home," desperate for a way to make Turkey Day special. I have a feeling I'm not the only one who's feeling a bit isolated this holiday season. At this point, I say thank God for the Internet, and thank God for food (both of which I am learning to use to their fullest potential). I am starting to earn a reputation in my family (and StB's as well) for my culinary skills, and I think withholding guidance from my loved ones at this time of year would be immoral and flat-out un-American. So, I have decided to prepare "remote Thanksgiving" and prevent this sumptuous feast over the internets, so that my table can become your table, and hopefully a good time can be had by all (especially if this thing goes viral).
Preparation of a "One Man Thanksgiving" is both challenging and liberating. On the one hand, it's a traditional day and the food should reflect that- and this will certainly be comforting on a lonely holiday. On the other hand, there's really only one person to please (ME). As us Basques say, "that throws a grenado right in the Paella." The solution is a lot like Thanksgiving itself- a little of everything. For you, dear audience, and for myself, I will prepare some traditional dishes, some borrowed recipes, and some things that I'm making up on the spot.
The menu for my solitary feast is as follows:
Twice-Baked Potato with Bacon, Parsley & Parmesan
Honey & Rosemary Glazed Smoked Ham Hock with Honey-Carrot Confit & Caramelized Onions
Bruschetta with Warm Gjetost-Raspberry Spread & Dates Batonette
Plenty of Light San Francisco Ale
Let's start with that Twice-Baked Potato...
In my family, potatoes are so ubiquitous as to become invisible. Every holiday meal features a heaping dish of the fluffy mashed kind. My cousin's family is Irish and StB is half Idahoan, so a lack of potatoes could result in severe withdrawal symptoms. To most people, a potato is a potato. The only question is how long you cook it, and whether or not you leave the skin on. With my twice-baked potato recipe, I'd like to shift the paradigm. In this case the questions are, "how many ingredients can we pack into one spud?" and "how can we make this humble tuber look and taste like its own flavorful garden of Eden?"
To follow along, gather up the following ingredients and press play!
Two or Three Russet Potatoes
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Cream
1/2 Cup Parsley, Chopped
Crispy Strips of Bacon (as many as you please)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper to taste
The Potato Gets Baked
The Potato Gets Baked... Again
Check back tomorrow, and we'll talk Turkey. Errr... rather, Ham & Carrots...