Dear Food Diary:
New York is a city adorned with lights, brought to life by millions and millions of hopes and dreams from people who leave everything behind, their family, friends, and hometown, in search of making it all come true. These are the people I call “urban orphans”.
Jay Z and Alicia Keys describe it best:
“New York!!! Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do… These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you…”
I came to NY 10 years ago, arriving at 34th street and 10th Ave, with nothing but a suitcase full of excitement and expectations. It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t trade if for anything. Likewise, in this melting pot, there’s a story similar to mine everywhere I turn. The holidays are the time we feel the most homesick. Over the years, I’ve spent Thanksgiving at several friends’ homes (very gracious of them), but honestly the sight of an entire family sharing, laughing and eating together, makes me miss home that much more.
This year, for the Foodbuzz 24,24,24, I won with the idea of hosting a Thanksgiving Turducken Dinner for the “urban orphans” in my life. Old and new friends, sharing a delicious unconventional holiday meal together. They say “friends are the family you have away from home”, I couldn’t agree more.
I asked everyone to share how long they’ve lived in NY and what food they miss most from home. Here are their stories: (I’m still learning about videos, so please bare with how dark this is)
The STAR of the night was the TURDUCKEN (a de-boned chicken stuffed in a duck, stuffed in a turkey). About 15 lbs.
We’ve all heard of such a bird, but no one had tried it, which build up tastepectations for everyone.
The one we had from Mara’s Homemade had a yummy rice, shrimp and crawfish stuffing, I could eat a whole bowl of this alone. Really fluffy and flavorful rice with diced shrimp and crawfish. I’d take this over bread stuffing any day.
I didn’t care much for the cranberry sauce, but the homemade gravy was smooth and savory. Perfect over the meat.
The flavors of the 3 birds were blurred, I was expecting a clear distinction visually and taste wise, but once cut, the turkey definitely took center stage, due to it’s size. Size does matter in this case. Not being able to taste each part separately was actually a good thing, the bite of everything together was perfect harmony, the best turkey I’ve ever had. It’s super moist (probably from the duck fat), tender (chicken helps) and well seasoned, I’ve never had turkey this flavorful. The crispy, brown skin was to die for. Once you have Turducken, you can’t go back to turkey alone.
Sharing the food, passing it around our “urban orphans” Thanksgiving dinner table.
I added some surprising sides to our meal, like the Fried Pickles. Tangy and extra crispy, the cornmeal really gave it that nice coated crunch. I think anything could be fried in that nicely seasoned cornmeal and it would taste good. The remoulade sauce worked really well with it. A nice balanced bite all together, loved it.
Gator Bites was another treat I had for the table. Prepared the same way as the pickles, nice and crispy, the gator meat tastes like a cross between fish and chicken. Dip it in the remoulade sauce and you’ve got a nice little popcorn size snack. I had it for the first time while in Florida, and had ordered them at Mara’s before, I’m a fan. Everyone at the table was surprised by the mild taste. If you’ve never had it, I say try everything at least once.
Now to the SIDE DISHES, as important as the main dish in my opinion.
The Green Bean Casserole completely changed my opinion of the dish. I haven’t had a version I liked, until my first bite of this. I was sold.
Juicy green beans interlaced between a creamy, soupy, sauce concoction that gave it this over the top hearty, comforting texture, with a slight crisp bite, while the generous amount of french fried onions added a crispy oniony flavor that was out of this world. Sooo good, I wanted to lick the bowl and eat all of the top crunchy bits.
Mac and Cheese was extra super duper cheesylicious. I love the nice crust on top, I wish I could of had it all, but this was a time for sharing =).
Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without a Yam Casserole topped with soft fluffy Marshmallows. Sweet and extra vanilla-y, brought a smile to everyone’s face. Fought over the marshmallows, and came away with 1/2 on my plate. It was so good when it melted into the sweet yam. I closed my eyes for a second and felt a warm hug.
The Jalepeno Cornbread was made from scratch. Fresh, soft, cake texture with a bit of crumbly and chewyness. It had a wonderful corn flavor, plus a hint of jalepeno as a surprise inbetween bites. The herb butter had an intense scallion flavor, like the icing on the cake (or cornbread in this case, wow!), brought it to another level of yummyness. Imagine Paula Deen and Bobby Flay had a culinary escapade. We had this last, so it almost became like dessert.
Here we are, devouring our more-than-you-can-eat meal. Everything was amazingly good. Cheers from across the table. Great food, friends and more food is what Thanksgiving’s about. After all that food, we waved the white flag before dessert. I felt like a Woman-tur-duck-en at this point, in the most delicious way possible.
Happy Thanksgiving to all you chubby’s readers from all the “urban orphans”. And a special thanks to Foodbuzz for making this dinner happen!
P.S. Chubby’s RATING: