So we had our Thanksgiving for three. It was completely fucking ace. Here’s how the menu shook out:
Roast chicken with chestnut stuffing
Roasted sweet potatoes, mashed
Roasted white sweet potatoes (batata blanca)
Green beans almondine
Apple cider cream pie with stewed apples
Nutmeg-maple cream pie
Yes, that is in fact two full dinners for three people. Good on you for noticing. We’re going to have leftovers for weeks.
I’d like to share with you here the recipes for chestnut stuffing and halibut steaks. We will discuss pie and veggies in future posts, for as I’m sure you can imagine, I have a great deal to say about both.
Halibut is what the fish guy at my dad’s supermarket recommended when my dad described our fish requirements: not salmon, not swordfish, not oily and bottom-feeder-y, not light flaky white fish. None of us had ever had halibut before, but we all like fish, so we decided to go for it and try something new. (I have been trying to be more open-minded about fish. I love it, but we don’t often cook fish at home since my mom can’t stand the smell, and I tend to be apprehensive of ordering totally new stuff at restaurants. This means that I have tried very few kinds of fish in my lifetime, which I have decided is unacceptable.) Fresh halibut is apparently outrageously expensive, so we got some vacuum-sealed filets from Whole Foods which were excellent. I googled around to get a sense of how the internet cooks halibut and learned that it basically cooks it exactly the same way it cooks every other sort of fish. So! I put together the following simple recipe which comfortably seasoned four halibut steaks. You will need:
1/4 large white onion
3 – 4 large cloves of garlic
Fresh-ground or coarse-ground black pepper
Coat the bottom of your pyrex or other baking dish with olive oil and place your steaks in the dish. Splash some olive oil onto the steaks and use a pastry brush (or paintbrush, or whatever kind of brush) to make sure they are evenly coated. Next, take your lemon and roll it vigorously back and forth along the counter to loosen up the juice, then cut it in half. (I like to use the tip of the knife to remove the seeds before squeezing.) Half a lemon gives enough juice for two steaks, so go ahead and squeeze the whole lemon over all four. Finely dice 1/4 of a large white onion and 3 – 4 large cloves of garlic and sprinkle them over the steaks and into the dish. Chop about an inch and a half of parsley off your bunch, dice it, and sprinkle that too. Finally, liberally salt and pepper with kosher salt and fresh-ground or coarse-ground pepper. It doesn’t matter if all your ingredients land on the fish or not – plenty in the pan means you can spoon them over the fish once it’s done. (If it is not clear by now, this recipe is a total no-brainer and could be executed by a three-year-old, provided they had a good stool with which to reach the counter.)
Once it’s ready, bake it in a 400 degree oven. Leave it alone the whole time. We did ours for 19 minutes and it was perfect.
Now. Chestnut stuffing! This is essentially my mom’s standard recipe augmented with a shit-ton of chestnuts. We use fancypants frozen bread you buy at Whole Foods because my mom can’t eat yeast, and I actually think it is probably nicer in stuffing than regular bread since it’s moister. I don’t usually like stuffing very much, even my mom’s, but this year’s stuffing was perfect. Here is how you make it.
Equal amounts spelt bread and fresh roasted chestnuts (in this case, about 2 cups each)
3/4 very large white onion
1 bunch celery
1/2 – 3/4 cup raisins
Half a bag sliced almonds
Salt & pepper
One sprig fresh rosemary
One sage leaf
1 – 2 tsps dried thyme
Fresh roasted chestnuts are one of life’s great pleasures. You can tell because there is a whole song about them. To roast chestnuts, slice very large X’s on one side or else they will explode, and roast them at 325 for about half an hour. Then peel them while you watch a movie or something because it takes forever. You should probably buy double the amount you think you need for stuffing because eating them fresh out of the oven is irresistible and once you pop the fun don’t stop. (Pringles? I think that’s pringles. Now it’s also chestnuts. Chestnut farmers, take note. (Where do chestnuts grow? Where are the chestnut farms?))
To make the stuffing, chop everything up and mix it well. Insert it in the chest cavity of whatever dead bird you’re eating and roast until done, or do it in a baking dish at 375 for about half an hour. Our stuffing, unlike other kinds, doesn’t contain any elements that will kill you if underdone, so don’t worry about it. As indicated above we had a roast chicken, so the stuffing got marinated in chicken fat. This is a completely fucking delicious way to consume stuffing.