Here are some of the things that a quick poll of my friends revealed they are thankful for this year: good health, family, having jobs, not having mice, iPads.
Here’s what I am thankful for this year: I did not take my mother and my aunt to naked ballet.
However thankful I am for this fact, that’s absolutely nothing compared with how much my husband is thankful for this fact.
Rewind a year. Mum and Aunty Jen come to stay. We scour Time Out for things that won’t cost as much as a Broadway show / a week’s rent / a small second hand car to entertain them.
This is what we spotted: “Take a chance on experimental dance. $10.” We should have known better.
Further research revealed this was a ballet about the rise and fall of Britney Spears. That sounds fun! I thought. I literally thought the exclamation mark. So Jon bought the tickets and met us at the theater in Chelsea, and we dashed through the thronging crowds of, well, maybe a dozen other audience members and secured seats in the front row as the lights went down.
The curtain rose to reveal, interestingly, that Britney Spears would be portrayed by a man. Also, he would be followed around by a person – man or woman, it was impossible to tell – in a bear suit. After a bit of waltzing, contorting and swaying, the bear dragged on a small trampoline. Britney bounced on the trampoline. And that’s when things took a bit of a turn.
Britney let out a heartrending cry, and took off all his clothes, right down to a g-string made of sweets. Then, climactically, mid bounce, he pinged it off, scattering us all with crotch candy, some of which landed in Jon’s curly hair, not to be discovered until the following morning.
At this point, thoroughly, emphatically naked, Britney waggled at us.
Now my mother does not have the worlds’ greatest eyesight. No matter, she makes up for this with front row seats and binoculars. Naked Britney phases her not one jot. She continues to use her binoculars. After a few moments, my Aunty Jen leans over and borrows them. They both start to giggle. Beside me I can feel the heat radiating from my husband’s blushing.
It’s a tribute to the mental fortitude of dancers that Britney stays on stage and finishes the act, which involves vampires for some reason and a lot of blood, only by this point we are immune to theatrics and hardly notice when someone throws a sheep’s kidney on stage.
Later we drink a lot of wine.
Roast chicken with cornbread cranberry pecan stuffing (serves 2)
In a city like New York where we mostly exist on a tangle of noodles with a side of lemongrass and quinoa salad for a bit of variety, it’s no great surprise that people are ridiculously thankful to be given a roast. This is the kind of comforting dinner that sooths even the most g-string candy pinged upon soul. And it’s a good Thanksgiving feast if you happen to be planning a dinner a deux.
The stuffing owes much to Delia Smith, though the cornbread variation was created out of last years Thanksgiving glut. I now buy cornbread specially to make it, but if you don’t have any to hand, use regular breadcrumbs.
1 chicken (for 2 people a 3lb chicken will be plenty plus leftovers) 2 oz cornbread 1 tbsp fresh parsley 1 tbsp fresh sage leaves 1 small apple 3 small onions 1 tbsp dried cranberries 1 tbsp roasted pecans 4 oz pork sausage meat ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 350f
- Peel and quarter one onion, quarter and core the apple, then blitz in the food processor along with the cornbread, pecans, cranberries, parsley, sage and nutmeg. Add the sausage meat, season, and pulse to combine
- Dry the chicken with kitchen roll, then look for the neck end (it’s up where the wings are attached to the body if that helps). This is where the stuffing goes
- Poke your finger under the skin there to ease it back, creating a pocket between the skin and the breast. Stuff this with a couple of tbsp of stuffing, and smooth it over from the outside so that it looks less like a tumor and more like a curve. Pull the skin back over and secure with a skewer or a couple of toothpicks
- Put a tbsp or 2 of spare stuffing inside the cavity – you want room for air to circulate in there, so don’t pack it in
- Smear the chicken with butter all over, excessively generously, and season well, especially with salt
- Cut the other onions into quarters and scatter in the roasting tin. Put the chicken on top and pour in the white wine
- Cover the tin with foil and roast for 1 hour, the uncover and cook until the juices in the thigh run clear (something in the ½ hour to an hour region – the math is; cook the chicken for 20 mins, plus 20 mins per pound)
- Once the chicken is cooked, put it on a board and cover it with foil, then leave it to rest for 15 mins (up to half an hour)
- Put the juices into a pan (unless your roasting dish can stay on the hob, in which case, do that), add a tsp of cranberry jelly and ½ tsp of balsamic vinegar to the juices to make a sauce, and keep warm, skimming the fat off with a tsp
Serve with some green beans and roasted pumpkin, sweet and fingerling potatoes for a real Thanksgiving feast
If You Can Make That You Can Make This
- A non-stuffed chicken is a snap – there’s recipe here
- Or try stuffing the chicken cavity with oranges and flavoring the butter with spices
- This paprika sherry chicken is also pretty simple – again, no stuffing, just butter and roast
- Or go the whole hog and roast a turkey – it’s pretty much just a big chicken. You can make a chicken, you’ve got turkey covered.