I picked up the November issue of Bon Appetit the other day. I used to have a subscription, but, as I'm a vegetarian, I really didn't have much practical use for a magazine that regularly features recipes like Braised Beef Shoulder in Pork Loin Sauce Served on a Bed of Veal Faces. Neither, I should point out, am I a huge fan of Vegetarian Times, in which the recipes all seem designed to bitch-slap your stomach around and remind it that there's no fucking meat in this food; recipes along the lines of Bulghar-Stuffed Chick Peas, which all taste like wheat germ left over from your uncle's stint on a commune in 1975. I'm really more of a fan of Cooking Light, although I'm reminded constantly that I'm not the target audience, what with the focus on articles like "25 Natural Cures for Yeast Infections".
No matter what I think of these magazines, though, I always make sure I pick up the Thanksgiving issues. Not so much because I'm looking for innovative new things to do with candied yams; I just love the holiday and love looking at the food. I may not be karmically or morally allowed to eat turkey any more, but I can drool over pictures of models carving one up.
Having looked at what the Thanksgiving issues of all these magazines have to offer, I've put together what I think is the ultimate crowd-pleasing Turkey Day menu. There's a little something for everyone here, and I'm thinking people all across America are going to be having a slightly better holiday because of the care and love that I've put into planning everyone's meal for them. Enjoy!
Appetizer: Hot Nut Bar. Everyone loves warm nuts. It's a fact. So I've taken this nutritious, delicious snack and sprinkled it with a whole mess of fun. Your guests take raw nuts, shell them and then roast them in a specially-designed home nut roaster. They can customize their nuts anyway they want. They like honey-roasted cashews? They can make 'em! They want cajun-spiced peanuts in a candy shell? No problem! Also keeps the kids occupied while you're finishing up in the kitchen. The li'l ones just love playing with that roaster. Economical, too, as your guests will probably only be able to shell and roast three nuts in the hour-and-a-half before dinner.
Salad: Dandelion Greens and Clover. With everything you have to do on the Big Day, do you really have time to worry about the fucking salad? I think not. So my menu lets you send the kids out to pick whatever they can from the lawn, toss it in a bowl and throw some Thousand Island on it. Let's face it, nobody gives a fuck about the salad anyway; they'll maybe take some because they look like an unhealthy slob if they don't, but it'll mostly be scraped into the garbage with the beets any damn way.
Rolls: Deep-fried Cheese "Biscuits". If I have one problem with the Thanksgiving meal, it's that there's never enough cheese. That's why, instead of the boring old Parker House rolls you've been having since you were a fetus, my menu calls for these delicious biscuits that are made by dipping sticks of mozarella in a batter and deep-frying them. Some guests may call them "cheese sticks", but feel free to pour hot gravy on their crotch and correct them: these are Cheese "Biscuits".
Potato: Freshly Mashed Yukon Golds. Different people like their potatoes mashed in different ways. There are those who like a lot of lumps and there are those who would rather be able to inject their spuds through a syringe. Satisfy all of your guests with this simple solution: give your guests a couple of taters and a ricer and let them do it themselves. They can put in as much or as little effort as they like. It saves you time and you don't have to put up with anyone bitching that you didn't do it right.
Vegetable: French-fried Onions. What's everyone's favorite part of the Thanksgiving vegetables? Why, it's those crispy little onions on top of the green beans, isn't it? So why bother with the pretense of having beans? Fuck that, says I. Just open up a couple cans of French's French-Fried Onions and toss 'em in a bowl. No fuss, no muss, no fucking green beans.
Stuffing: Stuffing. Can I just say how annoyed I get when people feel the need to futz around with my favorite holiday food? Why do you have to go and gum up the works with oysters or chestnuts or chocolate-covered raisins? Don't be an idiot. Stick to tradition here: My recipe calls for four loaves of cubed white bread and a pound of sage. Cram that in a bowl (can't cook it in the bird because then people get all whiny about salmonella) and throw it in the oven. Simple and delicious.
Turkey: Turduckfu. I've read so much about how delicious it is when you take a turkey and shove a duck up its ass when the duck has had a chicken shoved up its ass. But what does that say to the vegetarians at your table? Well, it basically says a big Fuck You to them, is what it does. Which is why the innovative Hairshirt menu replaces that chicken with delicious tofu. This way, you have a little something for everybody.
Dessert: Apple Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Cheesecake. My biggest problem on Thanksgiving is that I'm always too full to sample all of the desserts. Oh sure, I could just purge, but then I'm robbing my body of vital nutrients. So I've come up with a better idea. Take a pumpkin pie, a Dutch apple pie, a pecan pie, a cheesecake and some chocolate and throw 'em all in a blender. It's the all-purpose dessert you can drink through a straw. It's a Pie Smoothie.
Now, I realize that Thanksgiving is still a number of weeks away. It's never too early to start planning, though. So start today. The great thing about my menu is that you can prepare everything up to a month in advance and then just freeze it. Guests don't need everything to be "fresh". Making things in advance leaves you more time to get drunk and hide in the bedroom because you can't deal with your family. Happy eating!