Happy Thanksgiving Day


My husband’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving Day.  From childhood he  has always loved the annual ritual of stuffing both turkeys and bellies.


Quantity was of primary importance; turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, gravy by the bucket and pies, pies, pies.  In my family it was the same way but we added potato salad and mustard greens, sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin.


At the beginning of our marriage, this day of gluttony was not a cause for contention.  We would have the meal at his or my family’s house filled with our relatives.  The women worked in the kitchen, the men drank in the living room and the children ran wild.  It was a family party!  I loved that.


The problem began when we traveled overseas and had no relatives with which to celebrate this uniquely American family holiday.  The first year we attended a  turkey-less, potluck, buffet Thanksgiving with the rest of the American Embassy community, but we agreed that it just wasn’t the same because  1) my husband thought that there wasn’t enough food and  2) I thought that not everyone who cooks knows how.  Reluctant to participate again, the following year I just invited 10 friends over for a sit down, not quite traditional, Thanksgiving lunch that I cooked myself.  It was okay but it didn’t feel like a celebration to me and my husband thought that there wasn’t enough food.


The next year I refused to cook Thanksgiving dinner altogether and suggested we go out to a restaurant for lunch and just be thankful that we weren’t going to the potluck.  The only reason my husband didn’t divorce me was that he would have felt ridiculous telling the lawyer that I wouldn’t make Thanksgiving dinner for 20 when there was only two of us.


When we had our son Brian, my husband was so sure things would change!  In October of the year that Brian was eating solid food, he polished a miniature set of sterling silver (fork, knife, spoon) and showed them to me.

Me:  Those are nice!  Where did you get them?

Him:  I had them when I was a child

Me:   You should not have brought them to Africa, you could lose them!

Him:  I wanted Brian to use them for Thanksgiving.

Me:   I am NOT making enough food for 20, we are only three people!

Him:  🙁

So that’s why.


There are turkeys at the commissary but Jade is in school, Brian is in Burkina Faso and there are only two of us.  If we were in France, we would eat with M. Parret and I would make a small turkey with stuffing and gravy.  There would be at least 8 of us at the table, there would certainly be enough food, and every meal with the Parret is a celebration. Next year in Sens.


This was time consuming but although the quantities would need to be increased, it wouldn’t take any longer to make this for a full sized family.  The superior stuffing and gravy always makes this combination worthwhile.  Those zweiback toasts were slightly sweet but the stuffing was fine, I just wouldn’t use them again.

Tomorrow is not a holiday in Germany so I’ll be going to the hairdresser and doing a little Christmas shopping with my husband later.  This meal should soften him up for major Euro spending 😀


Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

1 cornish game hen

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

1 small onion, quartered

4 sprigs of thyme

Broth and Stuffing

1 cup chicken gizzards

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 carrot, quartered vertically and sliced thin

1 celery branch, quartered vertically and sliced thin

1 small onion, quartered

1 carrot, sliced into four pieces

1 celery branch, sliced into 4 pieces

1 bay leaf

6 cups water

Salt and pepper

3 cups of super dry toast, broken into pieces in a large bowl

1 1/2 tbsp poultry seasoning

1/4 cup melted butter


3 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp flour

Season the hen all over with salt and pepper, then rub with olive oil.  stuff the onion quarters and thyme sprigs into the cavity.   Refrigerate.

Brown the gizzards in the olive oil, remove and set aside.  Add the chopped onion, sliced carrot and sliced celery branch to the skillet and sweat until the carrot is crisp tender. Remove and set aside, reserving the skillet for later use.

Place the gizzards, the small quartered onion, carrot pieces, celery pieces, bay leaf and water in a stock pot, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, then simmer for an hour. Drain and reserve the broth, remove the gizzards and chop fine.

Put half of the chopped gizzards in with the dry toast, all of the reserved sauteed vegetables, the melted butter, the poultry seasoning and 1 1/2 cup of broth.  Stir well, then turn into a baking pan.

Place the hen into a 375 F oven and roast for 50 minutes.  After 30 minutes, add the stuffing pan to the oven to cook for the last 20 minutes.

Place the flour and vegetable oil in the reserved skillet and cook stirring until the flour is a pleasant dark brown.  Gradually add, stirring all the time, 3 cups of the broth and stir until smooth.  Turn down the flame and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the gravy has reached your desired thickness.  Stir in the remaining half of chopped gizzards.

Wine suggestion:  Merlot

About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Happy Thanksgiving Day

  1. Andreea says:

    Your post made me smile! I also wanted to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner but we don’t have a lot of friends where we are now (Bremen), so I will just make something small for me and my boyfriend. 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful time (even without enough food to feed 20 people…)!

  2. Darya says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! It is not a holiday here in France either, but I am nevertheless taking the TGV to Paris to spend two days with my family. My dad always makes a fabulous turkey, stuffing, sides and gravy. My mom makes the pies. We will be having some friends over, eventhough none of them are American. I cannot wait for tomorrow 🙂

  3. Who doesn’t love stuffing themselves on Thanksgiving. I hope tha you have a great one. If you are looking for a great beer to go with your dinner then follow my blog for the best recommendations.

  4. My favourite holiday of the year. I love the cooking and baking and family. I do wonder what we’ll do when we move back to England and it’s just the two of us. I think his parents will get roped in to eating with us. We always have leftovers so I guess I’ll be creative. Love that he brought his silverware your son. So sweet.

  5. That looks delicious….but, Christ, cooking all that for 20 people, I want more than Thanksgiving, I’d want paying:)

  6. Hahaha, I hope the thanksgiving trick works! Good luck & it looks delicious.

  7. Brilliant post – hope there was “enough” for your husband, Funny, I’ve started to think of you as French now so when you started talking about Thanksgiving it gave me a little jolt 😉

  8. Mary Frances says:

    That looks like just the right amount of food for two. You have the flavors in there, just not the over eating! Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  9. Chicken gizzards.. Love it! Happy thanks giving!

  10. Laura says:

    Janet T and I did Cornish hen on the rotisserie grill one Thanksgiving and savored it, so appreciate your meal! Wishing you Happy Thanksgiving from Nairobi, with Jo Lesser in from Kampala to share the day (she sends fond regards and a big hug). We are expecting 40+ here today … a little potluck and lots of strangers, but also lots of cooked-on-premises with some good friends and wonderful traditional foods. Enjoy your day!

  11. Bobbie says:

    One year in Switzerland a friend who was Swiss wanted to have a real Thanksgiving like she had when she was a student in the US. So, she assigned to me a pecan pie. Not able to find pecans or light corn syrup, I was able to just get them from the U.S. in time to make the pie . Whew! She told me it was the main dish she craved. Unfortunately, I had a very bad sore throat the night of the dinner, so, alas, I didn’t get to taste my work.

  12. I absolutely love your meal and the photos. One of my favorite dishes is cornish hens. You did them right. 🙂 Sadly, my least favorite Holiday meal is Thanksgiving because 1) it’s soooooo traditional it’s limiting in culinary expression & 2) it’s a peculiar tradition at that. Indeed, on this mysterious Holiday called Thanksgiving everyone in the US has turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. In the Deep South you throw in green beens (typically casserole style) and icky sweet yams with marshmallows (except only Northerners call them Yams – damn Yankees). For a true Thanksgiving meal, you must have these ingredients. Of course, a quick study of American culinary capabilities when the Colonials (Invaders from Britain) hoodwinked the innocent Indians (Native Americans who are almost extinct) shows that the Colonial diet did not consist of cornbread or turkeys. Contrary to popular belief, Turkeys are smart and you have to be quite a shot and a hunter to shot a turkey. Also, they were not that common on the East Coast where the Colonials lived. More than likely, any Thanksgiving was celebrated with seafood, squash, winter corn and apple pie or perhaps egg custard. Of course, they served way too much food which has been the tradition ever since. 🙂

  13. Amanda says:

    What a great Thanksgiving meal. I know it really doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving unless it’s a feast for 20, but you make up for it with the wonderful richness of the meal! Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Karen says:

    I know you must have enjoyed the meal that should have been for 20 but was for only 2. Happy Thanksgiving. And as to Richard’s comment about turkey’s not being common in New England…there were twenty right outside my kitchen window yesterday. 🙂

  15. chef mimi says:

    A very funny post! Thanksgiving just isn’t quite the same outside of the U.S.

  16. Happy Thanksgiving, Rosemary! Gosh, just half a game hen per person? Your hustband must have been starving 😉

  17. Que receta mas deliciosa!!!!!
    Saludos y felicidades por tu maravilloso blog.

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