Sun 27 Nov 2011
There are so many things to be thankful for this year, I hardly know where to start. I’m grateful for my health (despite a few hiccups of late, I’m perfectly fine), I’m grateful for Mountaineering Man and our lovely place in Raheny that we now call home and I’m incredibly thankful that – in a country where the unemployment rate is 14% – I’m gainfully employed.
I’m appreciative of my friends here, from my long-time mates in Collon to my relatively new circle of buddies in Dublin. I feel lucky to have my fellow food blogging friends, who I can always rely on for a weekend brunch in or a trek out to try some fabulous restaurant. I can’t ask for better friends than my life-long besties back home in San Francisco and LA. – though there’s an ocean between us we’re still as close as ever. And of course I’m thankful for my amazing family, who I got to see last month and who showed MM a wonderful time in Los Angeles during our visit. There’s MM’s family as well, who have always been so kind and warm to me and with whom I look forward to spending the holidays with this year.
It’s wild to think of where my life is now, just 21 months after moving to Ireland. And though I’ve written that sentiment on this blog many times, it still boggles my mind almost on a weekly basis. I catch myself all the time having moments of absolute surprise and delight at where I am, who I’m with and what life has become here. I find myself gazing out at the sea along the coast road on a drive to the grocery shop or at the city lights reflecting against the dark Liffey waters and think, “Wow.”
I spent three days prepping and cooking and to be honest, I loved every minute of it. Before dinner we served a selection of cheeses from Sheridan’s, which we had with some fantastic tomato chutney (gift from MM’s parents), Medjool dates and roasted garlic bulbs. I got a lovely bronze turkey from Termonfeckin Delicious farm, which I brined for 48 hours in a salt/sugar/herbs bath and it turned out lovely and moist.
With it I made a chorizo and sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, my dad’s famous oyster stuffing, a hearty root vegetable and rocket salad (from the awesome Duncan of Organic Delights) and sweet potato pie for dessert. My friend Vanessa brought a beautiful homemade tiramisu as well, so we had *two* sweet treats to finish off the evening!
The only downside was not having enough room to have ALL our friends over; between the two of us there are at least another two dozen people we’d have liked to invite. There’s always next year. For MM, it was his first Thanksgiving; for me, it was my first time hosting Thanksgiving in Ireland. For both of us, it was the first of many more to come.
Chorizo & Sage Stuffing
The first time I had stuffing in Ireland I was surprised by its texture. Here, people use breadcrumbs to make stuffing whereas back home we usually use cubed-up bread. No offence but I much prefer the bite of good, old-fashioned American stuffing.
6 fresh, uncooked chorizo sausages
2 medium onions, minced
3 stalks of celery, minced
1 long, French baguette, cut up into cubes (about 10 cups)
4 tablespoons melted salted butter
4-5 leaves of fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Big handful fresh parsley
3 cups warm chicken broth/stock
1 egg, beaten
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 170C. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat – there’s no need for oil or butter as the sausages will give off a good deal of fat. Take the fresh chorizo and cut the casing down lengthwise and remove the casings. Put the sausage meat into the pan and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it down into medium-size crumbles. Cook until done, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan.
Keep the pan over medium-high heat and add in the onions and celery. Lower to medium heat after about 2 minutes and continue cooking until the veg are tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Put the bread cubes into a very large bowl. Add in the cooked sausage, onion and celery and melted butter and stir until mixed together. Roughly chop the sage, thyme leaves and parsley together and toss it into the bowl with everything else. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop the mixture into a large casserole dish or baking pan.
In a pitcher or jug, combine the warm broth and egg and then pour it evenly over the bread/sausage/onion/celery/herb mixture. Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes; remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes and serve.