Last Sunday I organized a long overdue Greenpoint Girls Group gathering. For those unfamiliar, GGG is a group of kickass ladies who come together and share happy moments chattin’ it up, swapping ideas and projects, and gossiping the way only ladies do. We all live in Greenpoint and dip our sticky hands in a variety careers, activities, and hobbies. Artists, farmers, beekeepers, ice cream makers, hair stylists, yoga teachers, puppet makers, and the like, the diverse group represented in GGG makes for one hell of a good time.
It’s been months since the get-together, which involved dinner at Paulie Gee‘s and dancing afterward at No Lights No Lycra. For this edition Thanksgiving was around the corner and what more fun to share thanks and food than a potluck. The ever so lovely hostess Lauren opened her cozy sweet apartment and twenty or so of us gathered around, talking and eating our brains out.
I felt obligated and impelled to roast a turkey and accompany it with a side and dessert. I looked no further than the November issue of Bon Appetit to find the perfect recipe to use for the dinner. I’ve roasted a turkey once before and don’t remember much other than it tasted pretty good. Flipping through the turkey recipes one immediately caught my attention, that of Malt-Beer-Brined Turkey with Malt Glaze. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? I was skeptical of malt as I didn’t really even know what it was and what store could carry such a rare product. For convenience purposes I live in a city with bountiful resources and didn’t have to go far to find barley malt syrup at Whole Foods. I paired the dish with Wild Rice Stuffing, Mushroom Tarragon Gravy, Cranberry-Orange Chutney and Vanilla Spiced Caramel Pear Tart.
I followed the Turkey recipe to a T and had a minor anxiety attack when Lauren’s oven temperature reader wasn’t doing its job and I swore in 30 minutes I thought I burned the skin. Turns out temp meter was fine and 3 hours later the turkey was juicy and cooked to perfection. The skin was sticky and chewy, sweet with malt and beer. A pastry chef at the dinner first complimented me for having made 1 of 3 best turkeys she’s ever had and then later told me it was actually THE best turkey she ever had. BLUSH! I was surprised myself that it came out as good as it did considering I didn’t quite know what I was doing, I guess that’s what recipes are for.
The wild rice stuffing wasn’t as popular, the wild rice probably could have used a bit more cooking but the pine nuts add a nice savory touch to the dish and a slightly crunchy texture that compliments the chew of the turkey. The mushroom gravy was standard and the cranberry chutney with orange peels and serrano pepper was probably the best (and only) chutney I’ve ever made. I learned that cranberries don’t actually have pits as I thought they did and imagined the nuisance of pitting it all before or after cooking.
The pear tart I’m not so proud about since it’s not a homemade crust, it’s puff pastry that I was required to purchase. I’d like to know why puff pastries are usually frozen and store bought and rarely attempted to be made from scratch in most recipes. The pears were underripe and the finish product was difficult to split and slice since giant half pears were sprawled belly up between the puffs. Not to mention one side was completely burnt. Fail.
Folks brought an amazing medley of veggies and starchy goods with mac n’ cheese, brussel sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets and the like. The dessert table was teeming with goodness with pear tart (a much yummier version than mine), chocolate bark, caramel popcorn and more. I was so full by the end and so ready to take a nap.
The drink of the evening was warm apple cider rum punch. I watched with admiration as Ruth poked an orange and stuck on whole cloves, voodoo doll style, and let the cider and juice seep out with clovey hints. It was divine.
It’s a relief to think I don’t have to do this again tomorrow, just make apple cake and join the fam and call it a day. I’ve made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the family once and never again will I labor over an All-American dinner when all they request is some rice and kimchi. I’m looking forward to next year though, getting the ladies together again and feeling all home and family nestled together like little chirping birds.
Recipes are all available online: