For the formal dinner, we serve a sweet and spicy smoked turkey. We ask our butcher to spatchcock (butterfly) the turkey and we then leave it in the refrigerator overnight with a dry brine rub of sugars, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic, onion powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and black pepper. The turkey is then roasted on the grill in a pan over carrots, mini bell peppers, and our homemade chicken stock. For the smoking, we put two aluminum foil packages of cherry chips under the grill, on top of the burners. The turkey smokes for several hours, then rests prior to serving with the roasted carrots and peppers.
Turkey spatchcocked with rub, roasting on the grill
As everything cooks, Laura makes one of our favorite appetizers: gougères (cheese puffs) with pancetta and sage.
Gougères cooking, served
To accompany the turkey, we make stuffing (although, we understand that since it isn't cooked in the turkey, it should be called dressing) with Laura's mom's recipe (using spicy pork sausage) and also prepare balsamic-roasted brussels sprouts, Grand Marnier cranberry relish, creamed onion gratin, and chunky chipotle mashed potatoes.
Sausage into stuffing
Mashed potatoes, cranberries, creamed onions
We start everything with a persimmon salad with pomegranate and toasted walnuts and finish with a sour cherry chess pie (topped with ice cream - a recipe from my mother).
Brussels sprouts, persimmon salad, pie and ice cream
We serve it all and dine incredibly well!
Dinner is served
A few days later, we are joined by another branch of the family to continue to celebrate the holidays. As everyone is still recovering from their own version of the large meal on Thanksgiving Day, we go for light and simple with the gougères with pancetta and sage [again] as appetizers, two salads (blueberry arugula salad with goat cheese and honey-lemon dressing and a Greek salad), lasagna alla bolognese (with a bolognese sauce made the previous afternoon), and a tiramisu cake for desert. We find that we are having so much fun that we forget to take pictures and will have to add some the next time we make these dishes.
Bolognese sauce in process for the lasagna
We are very thankful for our family, our friends, and our readers of this blog and wish everyone a very happy holiday season!