Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A Southern Inspired Thanksgiving

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving–I certainly did. I hosted again this year with a small gathering of friends and family, serving enough food for a…much larger gathering, lol. Normally, I’m just cooking for my wife and me, but Thanksgiving is an entirely different animal what with the wide variety of dishes to coordinate–you don’t want redundant flavors, too few pans, too little oven space, too much to do at once–its a lot of work, stress, and trouble…and I love it. As I had promised you, I wanted to share the outcome of my Thanksgiving this year with you as this holiday is obviously about giving thanks, and for me, its also very much about the food.

Also, something worth mentioning: Foodbuzz. I’ve been a member with Foodbuzz for a while now, and they have been nothing but good to me, so imagine my delight when I was selected as one of the food bloggers to take part in their monthly 24, 24, 24 series (24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Posts). If you’re not familiar with the event, the idea is that twenty-four people host twenty-four dinners in twenty-four hours. Thanks, Foodbuzz!

I wanted to have something of a theme for my food this holiday. While I’m not a southern native, I nonetheless thought I would aim for a Thanksgiving where I tried to flourish each dish with a bit of southern influence. Does that mean this is your traditional southern Thanksgiving spread? Nope–some dishes are clearly southern, and others have touches that I hope evoke ideas of southern food.

So finally, on to the food. Obviously, I can’t go too crazy trying odd new things–there would be a revolt if some staples like turkey and mashed potatoes didn’t make an appearance. So this year, I aimed for a balance of some favorites from last Thanksgiving and a few new things (and I promise more detailed posts in the coming days/weeks for the new items. I’ll update this post with links).

Since all of my guests had slept over, this means I’m on the hook for more than just Thanksgiving dinner. I decided to make a light lunch–enough to satiate but not such that it would detract from dinner or keep me too busy in the kitchen.

I wanted to start with something like a roasted butternut squash soup I had made recently, but also something more in keeping with the Southern theme. I thought it would be fun to try take this in a more Louisianian direction by crossing butternut squash with a Creole-styled gumbo. This soup relied on butternut squash (instead of tomato) and smoked pork stock as the base, and included classic gumbo components like a caramel roux, okra, celery, peppers, andouille, shrimp, and more. If I didn’t have a big dinner to follow this, I would have went to town loading this up with other kinds of shellfish because I love gumbo! And not to toot my own horn, but this was a very strong way to start the meal!

The next bit of finger food: I chose to go with something more traditionally Spanish (after all, did you know the first recorded Thanksgiving celebration in the USA was held by Spanish explorers down south?). So I topped some crostini off with a bit of membrillo and manchego cheese. This is one of those simple combinations that is surprisingly delicious. Its also great because it takes no time to put together and time is a precious commodity with all the other dishes I still had to put together.

With the growling bellies satisfied (for now!), back to working on dinner. The star of the show at any Thanksgiving table, the turkey. Until I get myself a big deep frier, I’m a big proponent of brining the bird. So I stuck with the tried and true approach: brining in a spiced, cider broth overnight before slowly roasting the turkey to perfection. Oh, and the difference between the turkey I wanted to make last year and the turkey I did make this year? This turkey got a generous duck fat rubdown before oven time (it was no coincidence that I roasted duck recently). Just like butter and bacon, everything is better with duck fat (and a little bit of trivia: did you know duck fat is healthier than butter? Its practically diet food ;) ).

Using the gizzards, pan drippings, and a bit of cider (in keeping with the brine flavors), I prepared a gravy to go with the turkey.

And besides turkey, what else is the perfect complement to gravy? Biscuits, of course. Biscuits and gravy are a very southern mix, albeit normally a sausagey breakfast item. These biscuits are flavored with aged cheddar, buttermilk, and chives.

While we’re on the note of gravy and other turkey accompaniments, cranberry sauce is a must. I’ve come to really love cranberries, so I went a little overboard. I made two different cranberry sauces that I’d prepared last year: a traditional orange and cranberry sauce (because if we Floridians can get anything at this time of year, its very abundant and very fresh local oranges) and a spiced, dried fig & wine based cranberry sauce. I also thought I’d try to add another southern element to the lineup with a third cranberry sauce. Taking some of the ideas of South Carolina styled barbecue sauces, I also served a zesty cranberry mustard sauce (flavors like serrano, garlic, ginger, lime, stone ground mustard, dijon, etc). If this sounds like a whole lot of cranberry sauce, you’re thinking too short term–I mean, just imagine the leftover turkey sandwich possibilities!

And now, let’s focus on the side dishes.

I had a ton of ideas I wanted to pursue for the potatoes. Mashed, sautéed, gratin, whipped, studded with truffles–heck, there should be a potato Thanksgiving! I ultimately decided to use my roasted garlic mash as a base recipe, working in creme fraiche, duck fat, chives, and goat cheese for what obviously, was a heart stoppingly rich side dish.

Then there’s the stuffing. I have a confession: this doesn’t really fit the southern theme all too well as I did it. But I have another confession: I don’t care, lol–this is too good! I prepared this stuffing last year to rave reviews and I was told not to change it. So much for a corn bread-based dressing (which apparently is the southern term for stuffing. “Corn bread dressing” always gave me the strangest mental image…pouring corn bread on a salad? WTF?). This is incredibly rich and the kind of thing I could live off of: sour dough, cream, sausage, leeks, mushrooms, and goat cheese.

Then there was the corn pudding. This was really delicious. I was largely inspired by a recipe I saw, so I made this corn custard with a bit more of a kick, loading it up bacon, a mix of peppers, and chestnuts.

Given all of the rich entries on the menu thus far, I thought it might be wise to have a few “simpler” veggies. First, I diced up a few carrots and parsnips, parboiling them until tender (no more than 10 minutes) and then giving them a quick, sweet, orange, balsamic glaze in a pan.

And to keep the carrots some company, I cleaned up some green beans, tossed them with orange infused olive oil, and roasted them along with some shredded leek, garlic, orange zest, and almonds.

And finally, I hope you saved room for dessert. If you didn’t, unbuckle your belt and make room!

Pie on Thanksgiving is a must in my opinion, and the proper pie to fit the southern theme seemed like an obvious one to me. I chose to go with a classic soul food styled treat: sweet potato pecan pie. If you’ve never had sweet potato pie before, I promise you, you are missing out. Its kind of similar to pumpkin pie, but well, uses sweet potatoes rather than pumpkin, not to overly trivialize it (because trust me, flavor-wise, its so much more). Smooth, bright orange, and surprisingly sophisticated for such a sweet, this is probably one of my absolute favorite pies. Combined with another classic Georgian treat, and this is a pie of the gods.

And since this is Mike’s Table, after all, it is only fitting that there be an ice cream to go along with this. I churned up a batch of ginger ice cream to serve this pie a la mode.

Since I’m all about dessert, I like to have a second item handy (and the freezer full of ice cream flavors doesn’t count), so I decided to make some candy a few days ahead. In this case, I chose to highlight my favorite nut (which is now in season) by making some buttery, bourbon flavored hazelnut brittle.

At this point, I was stuffed and had more dirty dishes than I knew what to do with and we were all stuffed to the gills, some more than others (or maybe just pregnant ;) ). I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

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45 Responses to “Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A Southern Inspired Thanksgiving”

  1. mikky Says:

    whew!!! what a feast!!! great job, mike… yup, she looks really full… :)

  2. Joan Nova Says:

    No wonder foodbuzz picked you…that was quite a spread. Great job on your menu selections, execution, photography, and posting. If you’ve got any room for more Thanksgiving left, come on over to my blog and see ours.

  3. Laurie Says:

    Congratulations and Happy Thanksgiving!! Everything looks wonderful.. Amazing that you were able to get this out this morning.. Thanksgiving is so much work and you went way beyond with this post!

  4. _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver Says:

    Wow, a southern theme with punchy flavors for this dinner sounds mouth-watering!!! Everything is beautiful!

  5. Bellini Valli Says:

    Fabulous dinner Mike. Very well put together. What I wouldn’t have gived to be a guest at your table. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  6. Laurie Constantino Says:

    Now that’s a meal! It looks like a huge amount of very fun work – your guests were quite lucky!

  7. Peter Says:

    Oh baby(pun intended), you kept this secret under your hat real good…had no idea!

    You hosted a wonderful dinner, wish I lived closer to crash the bash and you should be very proud of the dinner you served.

    Have a relaxing week..you’ll need it!

  8. RecipeGirl Says:

    Wow, that is one impressive feast you put together. Lots of work, but I’ll bet every bite was delicious. Great job!

  9. pam Says:

    What a feast! I’m so glad we get to see your wife!

  10. heather Says:

    yum! that all looks so good. i love, love, love stuffing. it is my favorite part of the whole day. yours looks delicious :)

  11. noble pig Says:

    Is that your wife pregnant? What…is it? have you been holding out on us? Congrats if it is or congrats to whoever it is! How awesome….you can have gourmet children’s Birthday parties!

    Happy T-day, belated, it all looked wonderful.

  12. Mary Says:

    I want to come to your house for Thanksgiving dinner! I went to my in-laws and got told in no uncertain terms that there would be no gizzards in the gravy despite my pleading. And I would be all over the ginger ice cream and hazelnut butter!

  13. Jan Says:

    Wow – that food all looked amazing! A great job you did Mike.

  14. clumbsycookie Says:

    In Portugal we don’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving, so can you please adopt me next year? Everything looks wonderful!!!!!!!!!!! And… are you gonna be a daddy?

  15. Kevin Says:

    What an amazing feast!

  16. Sam Says:

    It all looks so so good, amazing, I wish I was there!
    Glad to see your wearing the appropriate apron too!

  17. Meeta Says:

    wow mike – this is a brilliant feast – you did a great job but then i know only you can pull something like this off!

    thanks you for your touching comment and support. it means a lot!

  18. Joy Says:

    What a feast! We actually did a thanksgiving style dinner party last night – I have the bones simmering on the stove right now!

  19. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy Says:

    OMG! What a feast! Each dish looks more fabulous than the one before it. Next year, screw the cruise. I’m coming to your house!

  20. linda Says:

    Wow! Everything looks delicious! I don’t think I could have eaten everything, you made so much!

  21. linda Says:

    Oh, and congrats on your Foodbuzz gig!

  22. White On Rice Couple Says:

    Wait, wait, wait….going backwards here…..are you gonna have a mimi-me? A mini-Mike? a kitchen helper (or slave, depending what you made them do)? Congrats!!! Love the last picture, she’s beautiful!

    My eyes were wide open throughout the whole post until you mentioned the duck fat rub down! Wow, that sounds awesome. Gotta do that next year, for sure! AMAZING job on the feast Mike!

  23. Marie Says:

    MIke, Wow!!! Outstanding job! Lucky guests at your table! That was a true feast!

  24. Heather Says:

    Whoa! Everything looks amazing, Mike! I didn’t have the energy to do another 24 yet, but maybe next month.

    Happy holidays to you!

  25. Navita Says:

    Hi Mike,
    First time here. Awesome feast. We, Indians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving …infact my first ever (and only one so far) Thanksgiving feast was in Florida. Loved every bit of it and infact made apple pie for the first time in my life. My boss had been kind enough to invite me over for an overnight stay and dinner on Thanksgiving eve and we cooked late into the night for the gala celebrations the next day. Ur feast, brought back warm memories.
    Do stop by once in a while at my lil place too.:)

  26. grace Says:

    how odd…i looked a bit like the pregnant lady after my meal too, yet i’m not pregnant. :)
    i thought our spread was impressive, but you’ve topped it about 22-fold. very nice, mike–you should be proud. :)

  27. Jeff Says:

    So jealous and that beats my meatloaf dinner.

  28. Ivy Says:

    Mike you are TERRIFIC!! Congratulations for being chosen by Foodbuzz. You did a great job to prepare all those dishes.

  29. Lori Lynn Says:

    Congrats on the 24,24,24! It’s a lot of work to put the meal together than have a deadline to write the post, no? Your menu is awesome. Hey, turn the wine bottles around, want to see the wines you paired with the meal…

  30. ingrid Says:

    WOW!
    ~ingrid

  31. Sandie Says:

    Mike, that’s quite the spread! Glad to hear you enjoyed your Thanksgiving festivities. It was fun hearing what all the “buzz” was about! :-)

  32. Marc @ NoRecipes Says:

    Nice job! Your whole meal looks delicious! Welcome to the 24 club:-)

  33. Deeba Says:

    Ooh well done Mike…I mean FANTASTICALLY served up & i style. Love the varity you presented & with much ease! Love the last pic of course…how’s the better half doing? Great 24 post!

  34. Nikki@Nik Snacks Says:

    Yum, yum, yum….you did it up right, Mike. Glad your Thanksgiving was great, too. I like those green beans. & the corn pudding. Adding nuts to anything makes it seem especially, Southern, I think. Oh….btw…dressing isn’t what we Southerners call stuffing. It’s dressing because it dresses your turkey (or chicken, duck, ham, etc). It’s only called stuffing if it actually stuffs somethin’! If it’s on the side, it’s dressin’ :)

  35. dyosa Says:

    Oh wow! What a feast! You’ve certainly made me feel full with all that gorgeous spread.

  36. Nicisme Says:

    That’s one of the best posts I have read in a long time! Well done, what a fabulous feast!

  37. Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits from Mike's Table Says:

    [...] Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A Southern Inspired Thanksgiving [...]

  38. zenchef Says:

    Did your wife eat the whole Turkey!?
    haha. kidding! Congratulations to you guys.

    What a feast! You did a fantastic job at covering the Holiday.

  39. Hazelnut Brittle from Mike's Table Says:

    [...] Holiday season means holiday parties… Attending a potluck? Entertaining during the holidays? Blow your guests away with simple, elegant, seasonal dishes. [...]

  40. anita Says:

    do you have a recipy for the carrots and parsnips
    also the greenbean with leeks/garflic vegtable recipy

    I have some vegetarians who would love this.

  41. Butternut Squash Gumbo from Mike's Table Says:

    [...] Holiday season means holiday parties… Attending a potluck? Entertaining during the holidays? Blow your guests away with simple, elegant, seasonal dishes. [...]

  42. Happy Holidays! from Mike's Table Says:

    [...] Holiday season means holiday parties… Attending a potluck? Entertaining during the holidays? Blow your guests away with simple, elegant, seasonal dishes. [...]

  43. shayne Says:

    everything looks great and I have to say I love the gravy boat, yes all this and I choose the gravy boat to comment on.

  44. Lynne Says:

    A great Southern Thanksgiving meal. Everything looks so good!

  45. shayne Says:

    ok I was snooping around on foodbuzz and I came across this post (one of my faves of yours) and had to pop over and look at it. I just have to say that your beautiful menu that you have a photo of drives me nuts cause I can’t rad it. it did last thanksgiving and is still does…ok now you know that I am a little type A. I even went as far as saving the photo to zoom in and nope can’t read it. I know, again, TMI

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