My sister-in-law had the majority of her family and mine here for Thanksgiving. It was a week-long celebration of friendship, laughter and food, which seemed all the more appropriate as we delay celebrating our Christmas until late February. The timing could not have been better as I was in the final gasps of a bad chest cold that I picked up on our fall circle tour through middle America. We visited good friends in Poseyville, Indiana and gleaned 2 pails of fresh dropped pecans from their neighbor’s tree. Once home the pecans got shelled and we had a most excellent pecan pie for Thanksgiving. It was so good I requested another for last weekend as we were off to visit friends in Maine.
Four years ago everyone abandoned my Aunt and I for Thanksgiving. When we discussed our options for celebrating the day we discovered that neither one of us actually cares that much for turkey. My Aunt being newly introduced to the wonders of smoked ribs suggested that maybe we could have those and that is how family traditions begin. So for the fourth year in a row, I smoked ribs for Thanksgiving. We had fourteen folks around the tables, I smoked over forty pounds of ribs, made four pounds of Cowboy Beans (three varieties of beans and home-made Italian sausage) and two 8 x 8 corn breads. I always make too much as the left-overs are excellent.
Of course we needed to have some appetizers. One of the most pleasant things about Durham, New Hampshire is the Durham Marketplace; they have the best fresh fish and shellfish counter and fish monger that I have ever found. They do their best to source local, seasonal, sustainable fish and are willing to locate anything that I might want; fish is delivered daily. They also bring in fish from away like Dungeness Crab and Wild Alaskan Salmon. Most people don’t want the tail end portion of a salmon fillet as it is thinner and will cook much faster than other thicker pieces so they usually end up in their house-made salmon burgers. I prefer the tail pieces for smoking as I like them when they start to resemble jerky which is difficult to do with the thicker end cuts. I asked that they save a few tails from each variety of salmon for me which I served on Thanksgiving:
I also found a pork rillette recipe that I had to try; I served it with cornichons and a baguette. It is very difficult to go wrong with slow braised spiced pork butt drowned in lard.