Garden Diary - November 2020

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Our Thanksgiving Dinner
Thursday, 26 November 2020

Here's the story. Since this year it will be a small and intimate Thanksgiving dinner with just the two of us I was planning on duck. Went to the IGA and spoke with Sara, their butcher. Yes she could order a duck for me but no one has fresh duck at this time. It would be frozen. And arrive on Friday, 20 November. O.K. She could put it in their refrigerator for a slow thaw and then cut it as I want - take breasts and legs off the carcass, which I would also want with which to make stock. Sounds good. Except the duck, together with five others in its frozen covey, was delivered on Tuesday, 24 November, late in the day after the store had closed to customers. While Sara said she could leave it out overnight to thaw I said no. And picked it up still frozen on Wednesday. Into my freezer it went, for Christmas dinner.

I had an idea that something like this might happen and took a venison sirloin steak out of our freezer on Monday as the fall back option. Slow thaw in refrigerator. On Thursday morning I prepared a marinade of crushed juniper berries, allspice, and black peppercorns with a pinch each of salt and sugar, plus a 1/4 cup of red vermouth. The venison sat in this, refrigerated, turned over whenever I happened to think of it.

While the venison was marinating I made a cranberry compote. Saute some thinly sliced red onion until soft. Add fresh cranberries, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar to the pot. Bring to boil, turn down to a slow simmer and cook until thickened, stirring the pot every now and again. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Decided on side dishes of oven roasted potatoes, braised carrots, and steamed Brussels sprouts.

Carrots peeled and cut. Turns out purple carrots are orange inside. Saute in butter and oil until
lightly browned. Add stock, cover pan, and into 325° F. oven along with venison and potatoes.

Oven roasted potatoes are something I learned about from Nana, Paul's mother. Take previously boiled, cooked potatoes. Peel. Cut in half and rub with oil. Put in the oven along with a roast or a meat loaf or a venison sirloin steak for an hour or a bit longer until the surface is crispy and at least the bottom is browned.

For the braised venison steak - lift from marinade and pat dry. Brown in a little oil in a hot oven proof pan. Return the strained marinade and a little broth to the pan, cover, and place in the oven for about an hour. At the end of that time I added two small containers of foraged wild mushrooms. They had been prepared when gathered by cleaning as necessary, cutting into smaller pieces, saute in butter, then freezing. Added the thawed contents to the pan and stirring to incorporate with the pan liquids.

The table was set. (We ate in the kitchen.)

I had a lovely Côtes du Rhône red wine. Paul, who doesn't like red wines,
enjoyed Mellick's sparkling apple cider.

So here you see it, our Thanksgiving dinner, plated up. Braised venison sirloin steak with wild mushroom gravy, oven roasted potatoes, steamed Brussels sprouts, and colorful braised carrots. Cranberry compote in the lidded white container. And fruitcake (well aged, last year's, well brandied) for dessert. Not a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner. And the sprouts were overcooked. But otherwise a delicious meal.

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