I’m not American, but I did celebrate many a Thanksgiving meal during my nearly thirteen-year-stay in the US. Though the spirit of the holiday called for quiet reflection and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, it was nothing more than a few days of vacation, centered around a turkey, for a young foreigner such as myself. Being a clueless, entitled Filipino kid, the true meaning of the holiday was entirely lost on me at the time.
Moving back to the Philippines in 2001, it’s been over a decade since my last Thanksgiving meal, but ironically, I appreciate the holiday much more now than I ever did back then. A more mature 38, married, and with bills to pay, I fully understand the importance of recognizing all the good graces in your life. My life isn’t perfect by any stretch, but there is so much to be thankful for. I’m blessed to have a career that affords me the freedom to pursue my many passions, including this blog. I’m blessed to have a family that continues to love me in spite of my many flaws. I’m blessed to have two pugs who think I’m twice the person that I actually am. I’m blessed to have goals and the drive to achieve them. But most of all, I’m blessed to have a beautiful, kind wife in Renee, who for reasons that still escape me, loves me with all her heart.
Despite a nasty cough, Ren slaved away all day to prepare this fantastic Thanksgiving dinner for us. With much love and jubilation in her voice, she held up her Tequila Cosmopolitan in a toast, and said: “Happy Thanksgiving sweetheart! This is my way of saying thanks, for having you in my life.”
My heart melted.
Nothing gives me more joy and comfort than having this fantastic woman to call my wife. I can sometimes be hard and overcritical with myself, dwelling on the negative and overlooking all my blessings, but one look at this beautiful, smart, and vibrant woman who’s tolerant of my idiosyncrasies, and I’m reminded that I’ve done at least this one thing right.
Happy Thanksgiving sweetheart. I’m the luckiest, most grateful man in the world to have YOU in my life. 🙂
Apart from the ridiculicious-looking roast chicken, which is making me want to start carving up my screen, there’s little else to like about this photograph. Compositionally, it would have been better to group all the dishes tightly together as Ren suggested, to more properly convey the Thanksgiving spirit of abundance. I wish I had more adequate props like fruits, pumpkins, gourds, and vegetables as well, to fill out the gaps and add color and texture to that clean, but sterile-looking table cloth.
Shortcomings aside though, doesn’t that roast chicken look insanely good?! It looks like it’s practically glistening with scrumptiousness, which, of course, it was. Thanks again for this amazing spread sweetheart. I love you! 😀
- 3 lbS or 1.3 kg whole chicken, brined for 24 hrs (instructions below)
- 5 cups water
- 4 Tbsps kosher salt
- 4 Tbsps sugar
- 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
- Fish sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium potatoes, quartered
- 3 red onions, quartered
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
FOR PORK AND FARRO STUFFING (can be made ahead)
- 1 cup uncooked farro (can be bought at gourmet specialty food stores, but if unavailable, may be substituted with cooked rice)
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 kilo or half pound lean ground pork
- 3 medium white onions, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 2 tsps dried sage
- 3/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 cup diced celery
- Kosher salt, to taste
FOR DRIED CRANBERRY SAUCE (can be made ahead)
- 2 cups cranberry juice
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsps cornstarch
- Juice from 2 pcs calamansi
- To brine chicken, combine water, soy sauce, salt, and sugar, then mix well until sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Put chicken in resealable plastic bag, pour brine in, let air out, seal, and refrigerate for 24 hrs. Prepare stuffing and dried cranberry sauce.
- In medium saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil then add in farro. Partially cover with lid, stirring occasionally until all stock is fully absorbed (about 25-30 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
- In small saucepan over medium heat, combine cranberry juice, dried cranberries, cinnamon stick, and sugar. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 10 minutes, or until cranberries have softened. Transfer some of the liquid liquid to small bowl, then whisk in cornstarch. Slowly add mixture/slurry to sauce, stirring constantly and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to serving bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove cinnamon stick before serving.
- The next day, remove chicken from bag and discard brine. Pat dry chicken completely, then rub with fish sauce and sprinkle with pepper all over. Allow to sit out for around an hour before roasting.
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Truss chicken after stuffing with some pork and farro stuffing. In large bowl, toss potatoes, carrots, and onions with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables in large roasting pan or cast iron skillet.
- Make “nest” in center, then nestle chicken in it.
- Place in oven and roast for around an hour (or 20 mins per pound), or until temperature registers 160 F in meatiest portion of chicken.
- Transfer chicken to plate or cutting board, then allow to rest for 15-20 minutes.
- When ready to serve, set pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat them, while glazing with pan juices. Cut chicken into serving pieces, then arrange over vegetables and serve.
DID YOU KNOW?
That in the US, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the most traveled day of the holiday period (and of the entire year), with over 13.7 million long-distance trips being made? The day after Christmas is the second most traveled day during the holiday season, logging around 12 million trips.
JB and Renée are the Traveleaters behind Will Fly for Food, a travel blog for the gastronomically inclined. They enjoy experiencing food from different cultures so they’ve made it their mission to try every country’s national dish. Read more about them and their National Dish Quest here.