On Thanksgiving, one blessing for some of us is a large-group feast that we plan and prepare in stages for several days, if not weeks. Regardless of whether some of the guests are bringing a variety of side dishes, the head chef still has to wrestle with a turkey or two. Depending on the size this usually requires getting ol' Tom into the oven in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning.
Others of us are thankful for a smaller party. And it is to those November celebrants we proffer this petite menu of seasonal dishes that, while "lavish," can allow us to sleep in on Turkey Day, at least till it's light out.
It may seem to flaunt tradition, but this somewhat free-form menu is designed for six (but there's plenty for eight) and eschews turkey for another type of poultry: Cornish game hens, which are a lot easier to handle and a lot quicker to roast than that 20-pound behemoth so many home cooks traditionally deal with on the fourth Thursday in November.
Some of the rye toasts are topped with marinated herring, some smoked salmon and some caviar. This offering is rather Nordic in nature, but provides an interesting contrast to our all-American main-course approach. Another plus is that you can do the toppings and toast the rye bread ahead, then put them together at the last minute.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons each, minced fresh chives and dill
1 jar (about 8 ounces) marinated herring, drained and cut into 16 pieces
Half of a red onion, sliced paper thin
1/3 cup thinly sliced small mushrooms (no stems)
3 ounces smoked salmon, chopped finely
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onions
1 ounce good-quality black caviar
1/2 ounce salmon roe