There’s Got To Be A Morning After

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The party’s over.  You wake up and no, you don’t have to jump out of bed to make stock for the soup or chop giblets for stuffing or toast pecans for pie. 

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You don’t need to pick up flowers, count the forks, or set the table.  In fact, what in the world will you do today?

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Right.  Even as I type I can hear the dulcet sounds of dishes being washed, for the third time today.  Dulcet, of course, because I’m not the one doing the washing.  Third because we haven’t yet gotten to the fourth or fifth time.  But we will.

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Or rather, Shel will.  I’m the one with my face buried in the flowers.  French guests famously bring flowers, and this group was no exception.

In between loads of dishes and flower-sniffing we reclaim our normally peaceful living room

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from the rearrangements necessitated by having a rock band

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with all its gear installed in every available corner.

We take dishwashing breaks to eat leftovers, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, faux-cranberry sauce, pickled peaches, pecan pie, pumpkin flan.  The soup, corn pudding, sweet potato salad, and green beans with pecans all disappeared at dinner, and the rolls, which weren’t worth eating, went into the trash the minute the guests left.

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The turkey was a big hit, and made for a funny cross-cultural moment.  I’d poached it before roasting, a first for me and my new favorite thing to do with a turkey.  It was moist and juicy, and led several guests to remark that American-style turkey wasn’t all dry and flavorless like so much traditional French Christmas turkey.  I have to admit that I didn’t regale them with stories about those dreaded and dry turkeys we’ve all eaten, American turkeys born and bred.  I let them believe, my innocent guests, if only for a moment, that American cuisine is in some way superior.

If you want to try poaching your own Christmas turkey and astound your friends, French or not, this is the method I used, and it works wonderfully.

The turkey also provided a few moments of panic, since the recipe calls for a 500° oven and guess what?  It turns out that our oven here can’t go that high.  So there we were, finishing up the squash soup with Calvados and spices, and yikes, what was supposed to be the next course was a not-yet-done turkey.  Quick, rock and roll to the rescue.

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So it went like this: aperitif with rock and roll, followed by soup, followed by a rock and roll break, then dinner, then more music, then dessert, then, imagine that, rock and roll.  I think we were all pretty blissed out as a result.

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The real culinary hit of the evening, though, was the pickled peaches.  French cuisine doesn’t have anything like them, and I answered a lot of questions about how they’re made.  Come to think of it, you might not know them either.  My grandmother used to make them, and they’re my one single favorite thing to have with turkey.

You just take a couple of cans of peach halves and stick a few cloves in each peach.  Then you put them, with their liquid, in a large saucepan.  Add equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and sugar, about a cup and a half per large can of fruit, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Let cool and store in the fridge for a couple of days before serving.  They’ll last for weeks in the fridge, if you have any left over.  I almost never do.

And they’re, as our adorable florist said

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And many thanks to Alain Laurent (one of three Alain’s here that night) for the photos he took mid-party while I was swirling in the maelstrom of getting dinner on the table.  What would life be without an Alain or three?

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12 Comments on “There’s Got To Be A Morning After”

  1. Amy & Albert Says:

    Your story reminded me of a wonderful turkey dinner that you, Shel & the “boys” shared with us years ago in Carmel. I found it funny that your grandmother’s peach recipe was just about the same as my own grandmother’s – who came here from Japan and learned to cook in the US. Shel looked wonderfully happy playing his guitar – nice photo. It really doesn’t matter if you are living in France or visiting – here’s to a warm home without too many more dishes to wash today. Love, Amy & Albert

  2. Ray Says:

    There was for us…..lazily watching the changing weather as seen by an unobstructed Puget Sound View west to the snow-capped Olympics……staying in PJ’s all day and capping the ‘day after’ watching “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” followed by “Jeremiah Johnson”….2 obviously contrasting, yet similar, versions of ‘exploration’ of the American frontier….eating diced leftover turkey/cornbread stuffing ‘hash’ smothered w. leftover gravy. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Shel way over there in Provence.

  3. Eden Says:

    Oooh Abra’s pickled peaches! I haven’t made those in a while, thanks for the reminder, they are so very fabulous!

    Sounds like exactly what Thanksgiving should be: a big gathering of joyful spirits & good food.

  4. Lucy V Says:

    That sounds like something interesting to try, Abra, I am noting it down. Your Thanksgiving table looks lovely. Great pics of Shel with his base. See you soon! L

  5. Randi Says:

    Great pics, great story. I’m going to make those peaches @ xmas time. I’m curious though, what roll recipe did you use?


  6. Great Party , great company great time , Thank you guys xxxx

  7. Abra Bennett Says:

    I made my usual favorites, Buttery Pan Rolls. The whole roll saga is here
    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=120079&st=0&p=1621913&#entry1621913 for those who are roll-obsessed.

  8. Jan Lang Says:

    I really miss your cook-together Thanksgiving dinners and the pickled peaches! Looks like your party was a big success!


  9. A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Where did you even get the turkey? Those big boys don’t make it to our Umbrian neck of the woods.
    My mother served turkey amputee…no legs! Can you imagine such a travesty?? LOL

  10. Abra Bennett Says:

    We know a great butcher – you can read about him here https://frenchletters.wordpress.com/2007/10/17/champion-de-saucisson/

    If it weren’t for him I’d have no idea where to get one.

  11. Paul R Says:

    Don’t tell your French friends that poaching and roasting a big bird is actually a French idea! So is barding the breast meat with fat. I learned about the poaching from George Perrier, the barding from Escoffier. And Jus techniques (indirectly) from Ducasse.

    You can tell them it’s 100% Betty Crocker 🙂


  12. […] Paradoxically, for me it can’t be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and pickled peaches. I don’t eat either one anymore, since I don’t eat carbs, but if I don’t make them and serve them, it’s just not Thanksgiving. Only thing is, there’s no pumpkin here. I used courge muscade, and I’m hoping it’ll work out. A piece weighing over a kilo amazingly reduced to just this small jar of purée, enough for one pie. The pickled peaches posed no problems, and I’m expecting them to be as big a hit as they were in 2008 when we had our Rock and Roll Thanksgiving; you can find the recipe here. […]


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