November 24, 2006
Lingering Flavors

More than one new Thanksgiving tradition may have begun at the Dunne household yesterday. The first-ever fresh, organic, honey-brined turkey I picked up Wednesday at Swingle Meat Co. of Jackson was a hit, coming to the table moist, herbal and delicately sweet. I finally came up with a pumpkin pie I liked and see myself making again. Even the crust came out pretty good. Most of the credit goes to Rick Rodgers, who provided the recipe for this Berkshire pumpkin pie in his book "Thanksgiving 101." That was the same source for the stuffing, an herbal, colorful and substantial Mediterranean version spicy with Italian sausage and rich with Parmesan.

But the dishes that generated the most excited comment were provided by my sister, Pixie, the first person I've met who actually prepared the two cranberry dishes that Susan Stamberg talks about every Thanksgiving on NPR. Her "Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish" truly was Pepto-Bismol pink, the sweetness of its fruitiness offset by the bite of horseradish. Susan Stamberg likes her cranberries spicy, as also shown by the second side dish, "garlicky cranberry chutney," from Madhur Jaffrey's cookbook "East/West Menus for Family and Friends." In this version, the heat is provided by fresh ginger and cayenne and black peppers, which only add to the refreshing flavor of the cranberries rather than distract from it. Both recipes can be found here.

As to the wines, we began with Domaine Chandon's brassy and austere Etoile Rose, found that the Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2005 Finger Lakes Semi-Dry Riesling had the sort of refreshing apricot fruit and balanced build to sip seamlessly with both the turkey and the relish, and finished with the lush and spicy Dry Creek Vineyard 2003 Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel, the blackberry equivalent of the cranberry chutney.

In all, a Thanksgiving that left us thankful, right down to that last slice of pumpkin pie I had for breakfast a short time ago.

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