Something to Be Thankful For: Dallas BBQ & White Castle
If you tag the Rego Park Dallas BBQ in Instagram, the default location reads Dallas BBQ’s, superfluous apostrophe S and all, which is the most Dallas BBQ thing ever. I also didn’t really mean to go to Dallas BBQ on Thanksgiving. This wasn’t some long-planned, overwrought performance piece. (If anything, it’s becoming a problem. I’m not necessarily saying the two are directly related, but I’ve mentioned Hennessy Coladas twice on Tinder recently and both times I’ve been ultimately rebuffed, one going as far as unmatching me. I can’t waste time on someone who can’t hang with Dallas BBQ. It’s my new test.) There just weren’t enough people to cook for this year to make it worth my while, I’d rather spend $100+ on a restaurant meal not involving turkey (not to mention the few more casual places I did inquire about were already booked) and my fellow orphaned New Yorker amenable to dining out could appreciate the simple charm of a $15.99 spread, most bases covered, no heirloom root vegetables, heritage breeds, or wine-soaked gelées. You first receive a cup of chicken soup, carrot coins and celery ribs boiled to cafeteria-soft consistency. The first course is followed by a massive heap of bread mush stuffing (I’m of the crispy bits, recognizable crusts school) draped with slices of turkey breast moistened with thin gravy and punched up with a good deal of chopped parsley for color, a yam big enough for two, cranberry relish that was a little wilder, with walnuts, and what were clearly once whole berries, served in a plastic container, and a BBQ-appropriate square of cornbread. This was the second Thanksgiving meal this year I’d encountered with no mashed potatoes. Has double starch gone the way of canned cranberry sauce? Dessert was no more than a wee pumpkin spice cupcake so inconsequential I forgot about it. Not a complaint. I planned ahead by making my own dessert, a pecan-pepita chocolate pie with a gingersnap crust, heavy on the molasses, bolstered by some pastries from La Gran Uruguaya on my corner that was thankfully open the morning of the 26th because I forgot to go on Wednesday and went out for happy hour oysters instead.
Two days post-Thanksgiving I was given the opportunity to finally make a variation on the White Castle stuffing I’ve had my eye on for years and that is far better than one would expect considering the ingredients. You use sliders, no cheese, and don’t include pickles, though the ketchup does throw it off a bit with tangy sweetness. I added a pound of sauteed cremini, a cup and a half each of chopped white onion and celery, just enough chicken broth to add to the liquid released from the mushrooms (more if you do like that mushier texture) a little thyme and paprika, plus fresh sage that seems to disappear no matter how much you toss in. A little sage normally goes a long way, but use more than might seem correct to make this taste like stuffing not hamburger bread pudding.