Tradition and change

Henri celebrates Thanksgiving with new and old recipes

Photo Illustration by Tina Flynn

Thanksgiving has always been Henri’s favorite holiday, celebrating at once both tradition and change: from the traditional feasts and family gatherings to the changing skies and nights and first storms as harvest ends and winter nears. And once: one morning long ago, as we cut and pasted black butcher paper into Pilgrim hats, learning of Kennedy’s assassination and then six days later, on Thanksgiving day, the famille Bourride—Colette, our parents, and little Henri—gathered around the television listening to the new president address the nation.

This year I’ll cook the turkey, traditionally, as I have most years, and Colette will be in charge of changes: appetizers, side dishes and dessert. She’s most excited about a new pie.

Note: While a good bread stuffing can be absolutely divine, Henri prefers to cook it separately—if at all—and instead stuff the cavity with spices, herbs, fruit and vegetables for a tastier and more fragrant bird.

First, remove giblets and wash turkey in cold water. Dry it off, and rub, inside and out, with olive oil, and season generously with pepper and kosher salt. Pin the wings and neck flap back with wooden skewers, and tie the drumsticks together with a piece of twine (which you should cut about a half hour before the turkey is done).

In a large bowl, mix together an apple, a lemon, a couple of onions (all quartered), three or four carrots and several stalks of celery, cut into three-inch lengths. Also, a dozen or so garlic cloves. Add several twigs of fresh rosemary, as well as other spices to taste—thyme, basil, oregano. Stuff mixture inside the turkey’s cavity.

With paring knife, punch six to 10 small holes through the skin and into the meat (breast, drumsticks, etc.) and slip a clove of garlic into each one. Set breast down on a rack in a roasting pan, and cook (350 degrees in the oven or over medium heat on a gas grill) 11 to 13 minutes a pound, or until the internal temperature is 180 F. Remove from heat and let sit under a tent of aluminum foil for 30 minutes before carving.

Apple Cranberry Currant Pie with French Topping
(From Sunset Magazine and Beth Secrest of Somers, Mont.)

1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup dried currants
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp plus 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 tbsp finely shredded orange zest
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
6 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
10-inch pie pastry
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks

In small bowl, combine brandy and currants. Cover, and let stand until currants are plump (at least an hour).

Preheat oven to 375.

In large bowl, mix 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, 6 tbsp flour, the orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. With slotted spoon, transfer currants into sugar mixture; add cranberries and sliced apples; mix well. Pour filling into pie pastry; drizzle with the brandy.

In another bowl, mix 1 cup flour and the brown sugar. Add butter and cut in with pastry blender or mix with hands until mixture forms small lumps. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake on bottom rack (on foil-lined baking pan) until juices bubble, about one hour. Allow to cool—2 to 3 hours. Serve in wedges.

Last week, America went to the polls and, in the grand tradition of our founders—indeed, in response to their mandate to us—voted for change, electing a president with a vision to free America from the arrogant stranglehold of the last eight years of the Bush administration. Henri prays that here in California the sacred American tradition of equality for all will someday soon mandate another change, and that we will grant to all couples the right to marry.

And to celebrate Thanksgiving as family recognized by law.