Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Success!

Since Fall began, Eric and I have been fielding all sorts of questions about our plans for making a Thanksgiving feast aboard our sailboat. Many were skeptical, but we are happy to report that we successfully hosted our first Thanksgiving aboard Sea Gem for 8 of our family members. This means there were 11 humans aboard our boat (although one of the eleven is a baby, so that doesn't really count). Of course, if you factor our dog into the equation, it felt as though there were 20 people on board (Moishe has a knack for being everywhere at all times--particularly when food is involved).

Happy Thanksgiving from Sea Gem's Crew
Our Thanksgiving menu was as follows:

15 lb Herb-Roasted Turkey
Cranberry Bourbon Compote
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Turnip, Potato, and Pear au Gratin
Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic, Dates, and Pine Nuts
Green Beans with Scallions & Black Truffle Butter
Carrot Ring (courtesy of Eric's mom)
Kale with Caramelized Onions, Sauteed Apples, and (turkey) Bacon
Baked Sweet Potato Mash with Pecan Crumble
Stuffing 
Crescent Rolls (Pillsbury, of course) 
Pumpkin Pie
Sweet Potato Pie 
Old World Apple Cake (also made by Eric's mom)
Red Wine, White Wine, and Apple Cider

Making all of this was a challenge. To make things easier, I outsourced pie production (i.e. I bought pre-made pies at the grocery store) and started cooking the night before to ensure the majority of the side dishes were done before 11am (which is when the turkey needed to go into the oven). Eric's mom also brought a few dishes, which meant even less work for us.

Thanksgiving aboard Sea Gem
Leading up to Thanksgiving, there were two questions everyone asked us: 1) How do you cook a turkey on a sailboat? and 2) Where will everyone sit?

Originally, our plan was to buy a pre-cooked turkey, but in the end, we decided to cook one ourselves. We began by buying a small(ish) turkey. Essentially, I eyeballed the turkey selection at the store and attempted to find one that appeared to be small enough to fit into our convection oven. The main challenge with the turkey, aside from finding one that fit in our oven, was finding a circular drip pan for it to rest in while roasting. You see, our oven operates much like a microwave--there is a little glass plate inside of it that rotates while you cook, spinning whatever is on it around to ensure an even bake/roast/nuke/whatever. As such, we couldn't use a traditional roasting pan because a) they were too big and b) their oval shape wouldn't allow the turkey to rotate while cooking. Our solution? We placed the turkey in one of our saute pans (they have no handles), which was large enough for the job, yet small enough to fit inside our oven.

The only surprise we encountered was when we went to hit "cook." Not shockingly, our oven doesn't have a "roast a Thanksgiving turkey" button. It also doesn't allow you to cook something for more than 99 minutes and 99 seconds... So, we roasted our bird at 350 degrees in 90 minute blocks of time, basting it in between. In the end, we had a thoroughly cooked turkey with crispy golden skin and a juicy interior (more or less anyway).

So where did everyone sit? All over the place! The woman and children sat below and ate at the table in our salon, while the men braved the cold and sat in the main cockpit (yes, it really was cold--there were jackets involved).

With the turkey monopolizing our oven (which is also our microwave), making sure all of the sides were hot when served was a challenge, so we relied on our stove to reheat many of the dishes that we had originally planned to pop in the microwave. All in all, it was a success. And, of course, Eric and I had a fantastic Plan B in case the entire meal was a failure--go to one of the two Brazilian Steakhouses within a block of our marina.

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