This is our first Thanksgiving away from America–the land that made Thanksgiving. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to cook a proper meal. However, because I didn’t want to pay upwards of £40 for a turkey for two people, I decided on another bird to cook. A duck! What an adventure that was, but I filmed it all for your viewing and knowledge pleasure below.
Before I get to that, though, I do want to take a moment and reflect on the other meaning of Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. While it has been very difficult to be away from family, friends and our cats, we have had some really irreplaceable experiences. As I think about everything we’ve done, I can’t imagine my life without Jeff.
I can’t say “this time last year I would have never thought…” anymore because this time last year, we were packing and selling our belongings getting ready for this big move all the while planning our wedding. But if we take it back a little further and said, this time even 18 months ago, did I think I would be where I am now? I would have said absolutely not. Jeff and I had been dating for almost five months, and we were getting ready for a surprise trip to Mexico. I guess that could have been a clue into our travel-heavy future.
Going back even a little further, this time two years ago, I was in full recovery mode from completing the full Arizona Ironman. Dating wasn’t on my radar as I was more focused on getting my legs back instead of meeting new people. It really is incredible to see how much your life can change in just a few short months and how drastically.
But as I sit here in my tiny flat in west London, I am grateful for what I have been through to find Jeff and what we have accomplished together over our courtship and first year of marriage.
Now, before I get too sappy (since it’s not quite a year yet), let’s get down into the meal! This year for our Thanksgiving feast, I made a roast duck breast, roasted Brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and macadamia nuts, green beans with toasted almonds, and a “baked” sweet potato. I have included all of the recipes below including a compiled video of the process.
If you give any of these recipes a try, please tell me how it went in the comments!
1kg duck crown
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 fennel bulb (cut into large chunks)
2 shallots (minced)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
4 figs (halved)
3 clementine oranges (halved)
10 sage leaves (chopped)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius (200 degrees if you have a convection oven). Get a skillet and warm it on the stove. Score the duck fat about 6 times across. Do not cut deep into the meat or the juices will leak. When the skillet is warm when you hover your hand over it, put the duck skin side down and leave for about 4 minutes until lightly browned.
Prepare a roasting pan with the olive oil and scatter the fennel on the bottom. When the duck is done, remove it from the skillet and place on top of the fennel chunks. Squeeze the orange juice over the duck before stuffing inside with figs and sage. Any leftover goodies, place on the meat. Rub the shallots and garlic on top of the duck, inside and also between the skin and breast. You should be able to gently lift the skin away from the breast meat to slide slices inside. Cover with salt and pepper and put in your oven.
For every 100g of your duck, you cook for 5 minutes. Check the interior temperature of your duck to make sure it reaches 74 degrees Celsius before taking out of the oven. Let it rest for 10-12 minutes before carving.
500g Brussels sprouts
1 tbsp of olive oil
50g dried cranberries
50g macadamia nuts
20g brown sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius (200 degrees if you have a convection oven). In a roasting pan, coat the bottom with olive oil. Trim the bottom stem off each sprout and cut in half. Place in the pan and make sure they are spread across evenly. Distribute the dried cranberries and nuts over the sprouts and toss to make sure everything is coated with the oil. Sprinkle the sugar over the top.
Put in the oven for 18-20 minutes until just golden brown and tender with a fork. The sugar will caramelize over the top adding a depth of flavor.
*Note: for added flavor, instead of olive oil, use toasted sesame oil.
220g fresh green beans (ends snapped off)
100g almonds (chopped)
10g unsalted butter
3 tbsp rosemary (chopped)
In a small pot, fill halfway with water and set to boil. As that heats up, put the almonds in an ungreased skillet and allow to toast for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring to not burn. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Put the butter in a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Add the chopped rosemary and set aside.
When the water is boiling, place the beans (ends snapped off) in the water and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes then strain. Put the melted rosemary butter back in the pot and add the beans back to coat. After 5 minutes, take the beans out and plate. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.
1 sweet potato
Cinnamon to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste
Wash the sweet potato thoroughly and cut off the ends. Score carefully and wrap in a paper towel. Place in the microwave for 5-6 minutes on high. When you remove it, it will be incredibly hot, but cooked through. Cut in half and dress with cinnamon, salt and pepper.
I hope you enjoy my recipes for our London Thanksgiving! Hug your loved ones and enjoy the holiday season.