Got up way to early for a holiday morning and put the heavily stuffed with garlic, onion and pork sausage turkey into the oven about four and half hours before our guests were supposed to show up for Thanksgiving. I heavily sprinkled it with Penzy’s Bicentennial Rub – it goes on a bright yellow but I find it roasts to the prettiest brown of any seasoning rub or baste.
The evening before, I baked two pecan pies. One was a large torte with a shortbread crust and topped with honey, the other was a made from scratch pecan cheesecake. Those pies tempted me as I slept that night and well into our strawberry-filled crepe breakfast.
While the turkey was baking and filling the house with its pungent garlic scent, I fixed a tasso and shrimp cornbread stuffing. This is a very easy side dish to prepare. Just mix equal parts cornbread and French bread, add some sautéed onions and celery, fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped cooked shrimp and tasso. Stir in some salt, pepper and cayenne pepper with some chicken stock and bake.
My favorite vegetable side dish is petite pois. Stir a couple of cans into a thick white butter roux; add some pearl onions, julienned andouille sausage, a sprinkle of thyme and salt and black pepper. Our cranberry side was a mold made of fresh cranberries, lemon juice, and fresh rosemary from the garden.
Sounds like a lot of work, but it really was not.
Usually for every holiday we make a commemorative home brewed batch of beer. This year we thought it would be fun to buy a large variety of commercial beers and see which pared with the typically heavy, spicy and rich Cajun Thanksgiving meal.
Mom and Dad showed up with Mom’s famous Macaroni and Cheese, my son and his girlfriend with a large pot of crawfish ettouffe. My youngest brothers’ wife brought a pork roast and a platter of roasted green beans wrapped in bacon.
A few days before, I stocked the beer fridge with Abita Restoration Ale and Jockamo IPA. I also put a six pack of Lazy Magnolia Pecan Ale and a growler of their Gulf Porter in there, as well as Redhook Longhammer IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a La Goudale from France .
My wife’s sister surprised us with many six packs of New Belgium Fat Tire, Blue Paddle, and 3° Below. Also she had 3 very large bottles of Chimay, one each of Chimay Rouge, Chimay Blue, and Chimay Blanche. Having these Trappist monk brewed beers in the house gave me one more thing to be thankful for.
We set the table. Cajun family holiday meals are pretty informal affairs. The food is always set buffet style and everyone serves themselves and watches to see who does not serve themselves at least three plates.
The cooks also competitively watch to find out which dish is hit hardest for seconds and thirds.
This is the unscientific method I used to determine which beer most complemented this holiday meal. First off, I had to remove the Trappist’s Chimays from consideration as I had greedily hid them way in the back of the refrigerator hoping to keep them for drinking after everyone went home. Judging by the empty bottles my wife and I picked up while cleaning, I would have to give the title for the best beer to go with a Cajun Thanksgiving to New Belgium’s Blue Paddle. A close second place would go to Abita’s Restoration Ale.
And surprisingly for some, the Lazy Magnolia Gulf Porter perfectly complemented the pecan pies.
We had so much to be thankful for this year. We have been truly blessed and are looking forward to our Christmas and New Years celebrations.
A big Merci Beaucoup for all y’alls friendship and support of our tiny brewery. We are thankful for that as well.