Friday, November 27, 2009

November 26, 2009 - Thanksgiving

Not being able to be with our family this year for Thanksgiving was a real bummer for us, but we were not about to let being in South Africa stop us from doing this very American holiday up right. We were determined to have a traditional feast with all the fixins: turkey and gravy, Silver Palate stuffing, Gourmet golden creamed pearl onions, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, something green, and apple pie a la mode. The only consternation was fitting a bird big enough to feed 8 people into our tiny oven. Measurements were made. Dry fits were undertaken. It was going to be close. Then, mere hours before the turkey had to go into the oven, my sister introduced us to the wonders of spatchcocking (which isn't nearly as dirty as it sounds).

Basically, this process turns a big, bulky bird into one which is mostly flat. First, Sten cut out the backbone and cleaned out the insides. Then he flipped the bird over and broke its breastbone which achieved the desired flattening. After positioning it on a baking tray, we dressed it up with a cape and booties, to protect it from the back and sides of the oven, which it would be pressing right up against. Then we tossed it in the oven and served the first round of cocktails to our guests.

Because we are in South Africa, it seemed only right to use Cane, a spirit created in the sugar cane fields of KwaZulu-Natal, as the base of our Thanksgiving Day punch. Mixed with a cranberry-rosemary syrup, garnished with cranberries skewered on rosemary branches, the punch was a festive blend of traditional New England and South African flavors. And pretty tasty too.

Is it just me or does this bird look like it is wearing a superhero costume? Perhaps its super power is the ability to cause people everywhere to slip into a tryptophan induced coma.

Flattened out on a baking tray, the bird cooked really fast, staying moist and delicious. Because the spatchcocked bird cooked in a third of the time a turkey normally takes, this technique saved gobs of cooking gas and kept the closed up boat from becoming a sauna. Unfortunately, it finished cooking way before we were ready for it. There was a last minute scramble as Sten mashed potatoes by hand and I tried and failed to make gravy (luckily, our friend Colleen stepped in and saved the day).

With our South African cruising friends George and Colleen off of s/v Affirmation and American friends off of s/v Someday Came, we feasted late into the night.

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