I know this doesn’t count as a real pre-departure meditation, since I’m writing this from my hotel breakfast room in Rome (!) but I didn’t have time to do any of this writing before I left… So here is a super long I will definitely miss my family and all of my friends at the Hop, but I’m not going to lie—the break could not have come at a better time.
I wanted to fix a special good-bye dinner for my family, so I made a three-course dinner from scratch (and only cut myself twice!)
Wilted Watercress Salad with Red Onions and Avocado
Turkey Breast with Brown Rice, Cranberry, and Pomegranate Stuffing
Sweet Potato Fries
Pannettone with Apricots, Raisins, and Cranberries
I’m sorry I didn’t take more pictures. I kind of fail at that once I get close to a finished product, with the stress of the timing and the general craziness that hits you all at the same time, and the bread is in the oven instead of on the table and there are no wine glasses on the table and the turkey is cold and the sweet potatoes are burnt and—well, you get the picture.
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp spicy whole grain mustard
I would suggest cleaning the watercress a day or two ahead of time; in a plastic bag with damp paper towels, it should stay fresh. Mix the dressing at least six hours before serving, but not more than one day ahead of time. Just before serving, heat the dressing slowly in the microwave. I didn’t actually do this, and the room temperature dressing instantly cooled the watercress. It was still delicious, but it wasn’t the effect I was hoping for. When dressing is warm but not hot, heat a pan over medium flame and throw in the watercress. Cover for thirty seconds, then stir quickly, so that the leaves that had been on top are now on the bottom, and vice versa. Cover again and cook for thirty more seconds. Toss and serve. (Quickly!)
Just toss together cooked brown rice; sautéed carrots, celery, and leeks; plumped cranberries (use warm white wine); a beaten egg; and ¼ cup white wine. Bake any extra stuffing at 350 degrees for half an hour (or toss it in with the turkey for the last 30 minutes).
Buy a BONELESS half turkey breast. Do not let the butcher sell you a bone-in turkey breast with back and ribs, even if he insists it is the best thing for a roulade. He is fooling. I’ll admit, though, I felt like a bad ass deboning it myself. Plus I have a cool cut on my hand. If you insist on following in my footsteps (the feeling at the end is incomparable), remember to make shallow cuts and take your time.
Lay the turkey on a cutting board covered in plastic, and put more plastic over it. Pound the turkey to a thickness of ½ and inches, then cover with stuffing up to 1 and ½ inches from the edge. Roll, jelly-roll style (my specialty, hahaha), and tie with twine every 2 inches. Brown on all sides, then add wine and stock to the pan. Turn turkey occasionally and add more liquid to keep the bottom of the pan from drying up. Turkey should reach an internal temperature of 155 degrees. It will happen FAST, so watch it. Still, even if it gets a little overcooked, the turkey is so moist from the stuffing and basting that it’ll be ok. Let it rest at least fifteen minutes.
Sweet potato fries you can figure out yourself. (Hint: cut, toss, and bake.) And you can find a great recipe for pannettone (“American Style Pannettone”) on the King Arthur Flour website.