Thanksgiving Dinner Part 2 – the Main Event

So after much debate on how to handle pandemic style Thanksgiving, I decided the husband and I would have our own little Thanksgiving feast. He suggested we do a virtual online pop-in for any friends and family who wanted to join. We set up a Google meet session to run from 4pm-8pm. We set up my laptop in the kitchen, and I have cordless headphones, so I was able to cook our dinner and socialize. My husband accessed it from our office until it was time for dinner.

I had made the cranberry sauce on Tuesday. It is a beautiful recipe with orange zest and brandy. I’ll post it, as I have developed an instant pot version, and it is very easy and delicious. I also precooked wild rice and jasmine rice on Wednesday. These were the only pre-Thanksgiving day items I prepped.

On the day of, I made my dough for Parker House rolls first. While that was rising, I brined two Cornish hens in salt water. I then made my stuffing. I used the wild rice, jasmine rice, chopped apricots, shallots, and garlic.

I then set up my parsnips to cook in the instant pot. I hadn’t planned these originally, but my grocery order came, and there were two pounds of parsnips. I have not had a lot of parsnips in my life, but I’ve seen the Food Network guys do purees, so this seemed like a good base for the hens. I let them set in that pot until I was ready to puree and plate.

Next, I stuffed and prepped the hens for the oven. I even tied them up, which I usually skip. I coated the outsides with salt, pepper and olive oil. I had originally thought I’d glaze, but I decided my husband is not a big fan of sweet, and I already had apricots in the stuffing. I prepped them and popped them in the oven at 425 degrees.

Now my rolls were ready to form and let have the final rise. The dough rolled out super easy, so I was very excited. I had accidentally used the intended 9×13 pan for the hens, so I positioned the rolls in a roasting pan. It worked perfectly for the number of rolls. I did accidentally explode butter all over the microwave while melting it. I may have been socializing more than paying attention! I let the rolls do their final rise while the hens cooked.

With everything ready, I pureed the parsnips with some butter, salt, pepper, and heavy cream and smeared it on both plates. Then I double checked the temp and took the birds out of the oven. I tented them with foil to rest for a bit. I had put the rolls in the oven after taking the hens out.

I sautéed up some some brussels sprouts with homemade bacon I had cooked up and kept in the fridge. About the time this was done, my rolls were also ready.

I plated the hens on top of the parsnip puree and put the brussels on the side along with a roll and some cranberry sauce.

Ultimately, it was a beautiful pair of plates. And we had very little leftovers. We had some brussels and some stuffing remaining, as I had cooked the extra stuffing around the two hens. We do have quite a few rolls left, as the recipe makes 24. But I also have cranberry sauce to eat on those rolls…or honey butter…don’t worry, they’ll get eaten.

The whole day was just so fun. One of my friends who came into the virtual session was also cooking her meal, so it was like cooking with a friend. And so many of our friends and family came by. I even got to show off some of my cooking, which I’ve always been reluctant to do. After this, I am strongly considering doing some videos for my blog or even YouTube. It really helped me feel better about not getting to host the huge Thanksgiving event I usually host.

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