This was my 6th Thanksgiving here in the UK, my 3rd in which my husband and I went up to my in-laws so I could make them dinner- a tradition we decided to keep even this year when we had to have it several weeks earlier than the real deal, and we had to travel with baby. After a few years we seemed to have narrowed down the menu to the following items; Turkey (brined, jointed, seasoned and roasted), Homemade Cranberry, Orange & Port Sauce, Sweet Potato & Herb Gratin, and a Brussel Sprout, Candied Pecan & Bacon Salad. (Haven't quite nailed dessert yet...). I had to be super organised this year trying to get it all prepped as our timings had to be very specific to line up with Nell's eating and sleeping. The dishes themselves turned out the best of all the years I had made them, but sadly I did not get to experience them first hand. Cue stomach flu. Not the results I had anticipated. But it was the act of repetition, the decision to make those dishes as they now signified Thanksgiving and not the results that has started to build the foundations around our family holiday traditions.
We'll be creating a lot of new family traditions in the coming years as we start to define ourselves as a family unit. Having Nell at the dinner table to experience her first Thanksgiving meal was more important to me than anything else- so we ate at 5pm this year instead of the usual 7 or 8 when she would have already been in bed. She had turkey and cranberry (minus the port) and some root vegetables and took great pleasure in being surrounded by us all and our giant plates of food. Her pleasure far surpassed any disappointment that I had that I didn't have the appetite to eat our now traditional meal. I had the pleasure of preparing it in anticipation of that moment of joy. That moment, that dinner that I hoped would help her to start to understand what makes up our family, and how hard I was willing to work to lay each brick of our foundation.
We had a lot of leftovers. It's also part of Thanksgiving tradition. I decided to treat my husband and I to Individual Turkey Pot Pies - only here it's really just called Pie. I have to say, it was pretty stinking good. Here is my attempt to turn our American holiday into a version of a British classic. Fusion food or not it helped to whittle away at the leftovers in the fridge and filled us up on a cold night
Individual Turkey (Pot) Pie
serves up to 4
2 cups or 2 good handfuls of de-boned and chopped turkey meat
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tin of black beans, rinsed
1 package pre-rolled all butter puff pastry
1L chicken stock
extra water if necessary
1 knob melted butter to finish
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, add just enough oil to cover the base. Once the oil is hot add your onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add your garlic and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
Next add in your turkey, making sure to give the mixture a good stir and start to coat the turkey with the onion and garlic mixture. Add your stock, beans and honestly any seasoning you like (I went for a weird mix of oregano, parsley and a few shakes of paprika because, well who knows).
Then turn the fire down to a low simmer, cover and cook away, stirring occasionally. You really want the liquid to reduce at a slow pace so you have a delicious broth and wonderfully stewy meat. Mine took 2 hours or so.
Turn your oven onto 180C/ 350F. Depending on the number of people you're serving use the according number of oven safe ramekins or small bowls, dividing the lovely turkey stew between them. Cut your puff pastry accordingly so each piece drapes over the entire top and covers the dish.
Brush the top of the puff with a bit of melted butter and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Add a green veggie to finish and voila! Perhaps this will be added to the list of family Thanksgiving traditions as well...