#21 | Commence with the spatchcocking!
Last year, we called it “Takesgiving”
Let’s skip ahead to the day after Thanksgiving where we celebrate by playing the Charlie Brown Christmas album (technically, streaming it on Spotify) for the first time since last holiday season. For us it marks the official home stretch to the end of the year, and if we had a turntable, we’d be setting it to 78 rpm right now in hopes that it would speed up the end of 2020.
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Let’s talk sprouts.
Brussels Sprouts Salad
Best Thanksgiving side dish ever? This Brussels sprouts salad is “big on flavor and even bigger on texture with firm sprouts, crunchy almonds, and creamy cheese,” says our friend Molly Watson, whom we first shared it with at Locals Corner when chef Timothy Malloy was at the helm, c. 2014. We’ve been tweaking the recipe at home ever since and Molly recently upped the ante when she spiked her version with thinly sliced jalapeño peppers, so of course we followed suit. That gentle kick of jalapeño really seals the deal 💚.
You can slice the sprouts a day or two in advance and store them covered in the fridge. Assemble the other ingredients while you’re waiting on your turkey to rest, as the salad quickly comes together in a couple minutes with a smashed garlic clove stirred into a vinaigrette, a quick chop of a jalapeño pepper and almonds, plus a final shower of cheese.
We LOVE Turkey. It only graces our table once a year and we set aside enough funds to procure a heritage bird, the variety characterized by a smaller breast size that's always larded with a nice layer of fat compared to the standard commercial turkey. For the longest time, we used to separate the legs and thighs from the carcass and slowly braise them Thanksgiving morning, which left us with just the breast to roast later in the day (more room in the oven that way too), while also creating a nice amount of sauce to enrich our gravy. But for the past couple of years we’ve been spatchcocking our turkey with great results, getting super crisp skin and succulent meat. Before we get to the spatchcocking technique though, we always use Russ Parson’s dry-brine recipe for the “Judy Bird,” inspired by chef Judy Rodgers (Zuni Cafe). While we don’t follow Russ’s cooking instructions per se, it’s the dry-brine that begins three days in advance that’s essential to a moist and intensely flavorful bird. We try and pick up our turkey the Monday before Thanksgiving so we can follow these steps:
Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you’d have 3 tablespoons).
Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You’ll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not over-salted.
Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.
Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day.
Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.
Now let’s join Samin Nosrat and commence with the spatchcocking!
And shout out to our friends at Edible Boston, who put this amazing list together 👊 All the Thanksgiving Recipes You Need, All in One Place.
But if you’re not firing up the oven, 7x7’s Thanksgiving Day Dinner + Takeout/Delivery Options has got you covered. Added bonus, you’ll also be helping restaurants, which need all the support they can get right now, especially with the glaring absence of any stimulus package from the federal government.
CLAIRE HILL WINES, DEL BARBA VINEYARD MOURVÈDRE, CONTRA COSTA 2019
Back in our younger days, we really enjoyed monster zins and big red Rhone wines like mourvèdre, carignane and grenache, usually clocking in at 14-15% ABV (alcohol by volume). But we were also hungover for days, post enjoyment. When we spotted the 12% ABV on the label of Claire Hill’s 2019 Mourvèdre, we were very excited because we haven’t cracked a bottle of that varietal in years. We don’t always judge a wine by it’s ABV, but it’s a good starting place in general if you’re looking for food friendly bottles. We emailed Claire for more details and she noted that even though this 2019 vintage is at a particularly low ABV, she tries to pick the grapes when they are not too green and underripe and the deep rooted old vines generally guarantee a nice level of acidity.
These mourvèdre grapes are dry farmed, just like our favorite Early Girls, and come from the hot and dry vineyards in Contra Costa where the Del Barba family have been stewards of the land for six generations. From Claire’s website notes:
These ancient tree-like vines grow own-rooted in Delhi blow sand, decomposed granite that has been deposited by wind and water. The Delta has hot days and little rainfall, but the vine’s roots go deep (more than 40 feet) to reach the water table below, which allows them to be dry-farmed.
The first word that popped into our head while drinking this 2019 was “elegant,” which it’s safe to say, is a description not often applied to mourvèdre. There’s plenty of that savory fruit so typical of the grape, but it’s painted in with a fine brush instead of a hammer. And that is apropos I guess, since Claire also painted the label.
We purchased this bottle from Bi-Rite Market on Divisadero.
“Amma, are you sure we can celebrate Thanksgiving even though we’re Muslim?” Saadia Faruqi in My Muslim-American Thanksgiving for NBC News
Last year, we called it “Takesgiving”
“I always start with histories of dispossession as a way of contextualizing why food sovereignty has become such an urgent contemporary project,” said Dr. Hobart, 39, a Kanaka Maoli from Hawaii who has a Ph.D. in food studies. “Now we have this understanding about the fragility of our food system that has come in the wake of the pandemic.”—Brett Anderson in The Thanksgiving Myth Gets a Deeper Look This Year for The New York Times
This is the Black Farmers Civil Rights Act of 2020, and it’s long overdue.
By the 1910s, nearly a million Black farmers, a seventh of the nation’s total, owned 41.4 million acres of land, mostly in the South. That turned out to be a peak. Since then, due largely to lingering white supremacy and the racist machinations within the US Department of Agriculture, the number of Black farmers has plunged by 98 percent. —Tom Philpott in Black Farmers Have Been Robbed of Land. A New Bill Would Give Them a “Quantum Leap” Toward Justice for Mother Jones
Update: FERN’s Food System Covid-19 Tracker
Leah Douglas of the Food & Environment Reporting Network started this map tracking the spread of Covid-19 in April. It shows the Covid-19 rate of infections at meatpacking plants, food processing facilities, and farms. Sadly, and predictably too, it’s only getting worse.
According to data collected by FERN, as of November 18 at 12pm ET, at least 1,204 meatpacking and food processing plants (547 meatpacking and 657 food processing) and 267 farms and production facilities have had confirmed cases of Covid-19. At least 73,404 workers (49,172 meatpacking workers, 13,130 food processing workers, and 11,102 farmworkers) have tested positive for Covid-19 and at least 333 workers (250 meatpacking workers, 44 food processing workers, and 39 farmworkers) have died. —Leah Douglas in Mapping Covid-19 outbreaks in the food system for the Food & Environment Reporting Network
Alicia Kennedy talks about how national food writers and editors who’ve encouraged meat consumption during the pandemic are complicit in the spread of Covid-19 among food processing plant workers.
You don’t mention that meat processing centers have been hot spots of the spread of the virus, that people have died, that children have died of Covid 19 by being exposed, from their parents working at meat processing plants. … To watch food editors at the biggest outlets in the country completely ignore this in favor of telling people that they should comfort themselves with cheeseburgers at this time … knowing that most people are going to go to the supermarket and get the commodity meat … That’s so irresponsible, that’s so negligent. To me, these editors and these writers have a hand in these people going to work in unsafe conditions because they continue to encourage people to consume something that is leading to sickness and death and that’s just inexcusable. —Alicia Kennedy in The Morality of Meat for Whetstone’s Point of Origin Podcast
This Little Piggy Went to Bat
Paul Willis, Niman Ranch founding hog farmer, makes a plea to support small independent restaurants. That’s right, a farmer calling for relief for restaurants, because when restaurants close, the farms that provide them will fail too.
I got started selling Niman Ranch pork from my Iowa farm to Chez Panisse, Café Rouge and other farm-to-table restaurants in California back in the 1990s. Today, Niman Ranch has grown to a community of over 750 independent family farmers and ranchers who continue to rely on restaurants to support their farms.
One in six restaurants have permanently closed since the pandemic started, and at the current pace, 85% of our country’s small, independent restaurants — restaurants that directly support Midwest farmers like those in the Niman Ranch network — will be in danger of closing. —Paul Willis in Farmers have support from Congress, and independent restaurants need help now for the Des Moines Register
“I will run out of money,” Hargrave said. “I anticipate running out of money. If I hit my target, if I do everything the way I’m supposed to do, we will be at zero. We will have no money left. I fully anticipate that happening.” —Linda Saverall in Tacolicious closes Santana Row, North Beach restaurants for the Bay Area News Group
ONE MORE THING
"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body." —Walt Whitman from the preface to Leaves of Grass
That’s all for this week. We hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.
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"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end" –John Lennon