Liminality & Thanksgiving Recipes October 26th, 2023 I have written endlessly about the liminal spaces in my life when the ambiguity …
As you are probably aware, brining helps create a more succulent meat. I am a big fan of the dry brine when it comes to cooking a turkey or even a chicken. The dry brine is easier and less messy than wet, and it delivers moist meat and a crispy and flavorful skin, which I happen to be a fan of. Adding herbs and spices to a dry brine (salt) adds flavor, texture, and a joie de vivre by creating an aromatic and flavorful experience customized to your palate. The salt on the skin draws moisture from the turkey and then comingles with the herbs, spices and salt and gets re-absorbed back into the turkey, creating flavorful, succulent and juicy meat. The salt and air dries out the skin which allows it to become extra crispy when roasted, and the herbs and spices add extra flavor as they cook and get embedded into the chicken skin by means of chicken fat. If you are lucky enough to get a jar of my Chipotle Cranberry Mezcal Herbal Brine in time for Thanksgiving, you will need to know how to use it. And if you didn’t get one (which is likely because I made limited quantities this fall), you can still make one using the same formula.
I have been toying with the idea of getting a physical space again for Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center, this time in Kansas City. I’m needing a commercial kitchen for making my herbal salts and other herbal products for Herbal-Roots, and it’d be nice to have another dedicated food photography studio and with that I’d likely have some in-person cooking classes and food events focused on fresh herbs and my usual- local, organic, sustainable, fairly traded food ingredients and artisans. During a chat with one of my business advisors highlighting some of the most popular culinary classes we offered back at Ger- Nis Culinary & Herb Center in Brooklyn one class stood out: part of our Fill Your Freezer series: Fresh Sausage Making. This was a class that I personally taught and a wave of nostalgia later I made a bunch of sausages and in the process updated many of my older recipes with more fresh herbs and spices as well as a few new tricks and techniques. I also created a few new recipes.
Thanksgiving and the act of giving thanks, the acknowledgement that there is something to be grateful for is something I think we all need to do more often. On Thanksgiving many Americans put forth great effort to make elaborate or in the very least home cooked (from the heart) meals. This effort, that they put forth annually, gives me faith in people and in love because loving people is about showing up and putting in effort.
Fall is not my favorite season. It’s full of mystery, significant change and its sense of loss tends to rile and agitate me. So, as we descend into fall, I always feel trepidation and fear in my blood. As a human being, the fear of the unknown is omnipresent. Habitually I have always tried to control that which is unrevealed, to fight my way through what I don’t know. Lately I wonder if I should stop fighting it and just fall back into myself, hold on and let it pass through me? Letting that which is mysterious reveal itself, in its own time, as nature intended. I think this is what autumn is about. It feels natural. I think human beings, like wild deer know when to be still and when to move. Humans, I think, mostly must learn to listen better, to hear what’s happening inside us.
I think about this topic a lot: courage and creativity. In terms of courage, I wonder why some people have it, the ability to be courageous, while others seem to have none. I wonder if it’s like a muscle you have to build, strengthen and exercise it or if it’s more like eye color; we’re given what we are given through genes. Courage has been something I have had since I was young, for as long as I can remember. I have a lot of fear, the same as everyone else, but for whatever reason I am courageous regardless of my fears. And trust me, my fears are probably way bigger than yours. I’m afraid of everything and everybody.
One for Rudolph, two for me. This is one of my most whimsical recipes and one that is perfect to make with your kids the day before Christmas eve. Basically, the kids make herbal sugar cubes for Rudolph and you get amazing sugar cubes for an old-Fashioned cocktail. It’s a rather fun project for all and one that the adults can enjoy long after Santa is gone. The recipe is super easy. Some herbs, sugar and ice cube trays are really all that’s needed outside a few drops of water.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of cooking a six-course Thanksgiving pairing menu to go along with the French fortified wine, Pineau des Charentes. This was a press dinner hosted by PlaceInvaders for Sopexa, who represents the wine. A total of twelve guests spent the evening warmly tucked inside a Placeinvaders purple Victorian “mansion” in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. I conjured up the menu to evoke an autumnal European-American Thanksgiving vibe and, because I was the chef, I was bursting with fresh, fall-centric herbs.
Sage is without question the herb of the season. It’s hard to see, smell or taste, without thinking about the warming and comforting foods of fall, that start to bring us inside, literally and figuratively. As we begin to settle into the rapidly colder and darker winter, sage creeps into our foods; in soups, beans, stews and most importantly buried throughout most of the dishes on our holiday tables. Just as pumpkin pie spice is synonymous with fall, sage is tantamount to Thanksgiving. There is nothing more quintessentially Thanksgiving than sage, except I suppose the turkey.