I originally wanted to post this yesterday, but then I spent yesterday sleeping, and so it must go up today.
Thanksgiving, this year, was spent mostly at my “day” job—wherein I work the night shift. But we did have family over; some cousins, my step-sister, my brother. And dear lord, did we ever have food. Mom spent a week or more preparing for this year’s feast. While we were all being social and to keep us from starving while anticipating the huge dinner, mamacita had prepared a variety of pickles: bread and butter, fresh dill, pickled carrots, and a peculiar pickle she found which is from…somewhere: turnips, carrots, celery, and beets, pickled in part in beet juice, which turned everything a rather interesting red-purple. I would not have thought I would enjoy pickled turnips, but in the beet juice they are absolutely delicious. She also prepared three types of cheese ball: blue cheese and shallot with walnuts, goat cheese and chives, and pimiento cheddar, rolled in dried cranberries.
As if that were not enough, there were pumpkin pies, pecan pies, a fig-spice cake with buttermilk glaze, and cookies.
Thanksgiving dinner has certain consistent themes in my house; for the last several years, there have been two turkeys (one roasted, one slow-smoked), ham, and stuffing/dressing (my mom’s particular hybrid stuffing, part cornmeal, part regular bread). The sides other than these staples vary a bit; the past couple of years we’ve done green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, and most years deviled eggs feature; there’s also generally some form of sweet potato—either casserole, or fried sweet potatoes. This year we also had asparagus, some kind of boiled/steamed (I wasn’t there for the prep) carrots, freshly-baked rolls, and two kinds of gravy.
Gravy is sort of an interesting phenomenon at our thanksgiving table. The gravy I have had for every Thanksgiving of my life has been what my mom calls “gibblet gravy,” which is prepared from the discards of the turkey—neck, organ meat, etc. These are turned into a stock and the meat is taken from the meat-like parts, the organs are chopped up, and they’re dumped back into the stock along with a chopped-up hard boiled egg or two and a slurry to thicken it slightly. A few years ago, mom started also making pan gravy from the roasted turkey; this is better suited for the mashed potatoes than the previous type.
Yesterday morning, while heating leftovers, my mom apparently dropped the bowl containing the leftover gibblet gravy. Woe and sadness! The dog happily helped clean the mess by partaking of it, but the rest of us were sighing for what might have been and steeling ourselves for a gibblet-less round of leftovers. My mom, however, had inspiration: in the course of her errands-running, she recalled that turkey parts had been available—and that they had not been expensive (organ meat and off-cuts typically aren’t, after all). So she purchased what she needed piecemeal without having to invest in another turkey, and while I took one of my many naps yesterday, made an entire new batch of gravy.
It’s a post-Thanksgiving miracle!
It occurs to me that the “gravy” I described probably sounds rather strange to non-Southerners (and probably strange to some of them, too), but I promise it is utterly delicious. In fact, I had some of the new gravy just a couple of hours ago, almost a soup of it on some leftover stuffing.