Monday, December 02, 2013

Thanksgiving From Munchery


You've heard me rave about Munchery before.  I've described the service many times.  I'll skip all those details now, but if you aren't aware of what Munchery offers, go read those reviews first :)

This time, I wasn't just ordering any old dinner from Munchery.  I was ordering Thanksgiving!  This year, for Thanksgiving, they had a slew of options.  If you just didn't want to deal with the turkey, they offered whole turkeys seasoned and brined, ready to pop into the oven on Thanksgiving morning.  Or, it could come already roasted.  Or you could get a full feast, designed for a group, or just an individual meal.  Or you could just order sides, designed for groups of four.   And of course, some stunning looking desserts!

I went for the individual meal, plus an additional starter, and desserts.  I'll cover the desserts in my next review, as they were certainly the highlight.  The main meal was ok, but the least successful of all Munchery orders I have made.  Overall, this was a very easy way to get all of my Thanksgiving cravings met with minimal effort, but nothing can really compare to a Thanksgiving feast cooked by Mom.

Anyway, I still recommend Munchery, and if you want $10 off your first order, just sign up with my invite link.
Roasted Chestnut Soup: chive crème fraîche, crisp shallots, sage.  $6.50.
Not part of the Thanksgiving package, but I decided to add on an additional soup as a starter.  This was a creation from Chef Steven Levine, whom I had ordered from once before.

The soup was described as: "a rich sweet puree of roasted chestnuts, parsnips, leeks, celery and sage. Made with a vegetable stock and finished with a little cream. Topped with a chive crème fraîche, crisp shallots and fried sage leaves."

This was a restaurant quality dish!

I'm not a huge fan of soups in general, but I love chestnuts, and I don't see them on menus very often.  So, when I saw the soup, I thought it would be a great starter course for our Thanksgiving dinner.  When meal time came around, we decided that we had too much food already, and decided to save the soup, so I enjoyed it separately.

The soup itself was a puree, again, not something I tend to like.  The flavor was good, but I probably wouldn't have guessed it was chestnut.  I'm not sure what I would have guessed actually.  I was fairly disappointed that the chestnut, the component I was most excited about, wasn't more prevalent.  I did taste the parsnip, leek, and celery.

But, what made this shine was the accompaniments.  The chive crème fraîche had plentiful chopped chives, which added a lot of flavor.  I loved the contrast of the hot soup with the cold crème fraîche.  It also made it even creamier, not that it wasn't creamy to begin with.

The fried shallots and sage were supposed to be crispy toppings to add on top as well, but I touched them, and they were flimsy.  I was sad, until I realized I could just pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes to crisp them up.  They transformed right back into the crispy components they were meant to be.  Crispy fried shallots are just about one of the most delicious things on the planet, so it was hard to go wrong here.  I really loved the additional textures from the crispy components, and both of these were very flavorful.

The toppings really completed the dish, and transformed it from just a simple soup you could get anywhere, into a stunning restaurant quality dish.

Overall, I enjoyed this, although again, I'm not a soup girl, so I probably wouldn't order it again.  High quality, well thought out dish however, so if you are a soup fan, I recommend.  $6.50 for a bowl of soup seemed high to me at first, but again, this was restaurant quality, and you'd easily pay that at a restaurant.  My favorite (savory) dish of the meal.
Individual Thanksgiving Dinner: Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Winter Greens Gratin, Cornbread, Apple and Fennel-Sausage Stuffing, Cranberry Apple Chutney Sauce, Giblet Gravy. $14.95 ($13.95 Early Bird)
The Munchery chefs all teamed up for this feast, traditional turkey with sides.

First, the main course, the turkey.  "Brined, roasted and sliced Diestel Farms turkey white and dark meat", also by Chef Steven Levine.  The portion of this was insanely generous.  3 large slices of white meat on top, with many smaller chunks of white and dark meat underneath.  I don't like turkey, at all, so I gave this all to Ojan.  He said it was decent, and appreciated the crispy skin.  He happily ate the leftovers the next day as well.

Next came the stuffing, from Chef Michelle Harrison.  It was described as a cornbread, apple, and fennel-sausage stuffing,  "completely made from scratch, this stuffing is packed with flavor. Freshly baked cornbread is blended with chicken stock, a variety of seasonal aromatics, apples and house-made fennel-sausage."

Sounded fantastic, as I love cornbread.  And stuffing is one of my absolute favorite things, so I asked for a little extra.  Unfortunately, this just wasn't very good.  First, the bread didn't actually seem to be cornbread.  It didn't have any corn-y grit to it.  And it was soggy.  Even when I heated it in the toaster oven for far longer than they said, it still didn't crisp up.  Flavor-wise, it was also lacking.  There were visible additions to it, like celery, but the aromatics didn't deliver on flavor.  I was also sadden by the sausage component, as I only found a few tiny bits, all too small to really taste.  I expected this to be the highlight of the meal for me, but it was my second to last favorite.

Next up was the vegetables, a winter greens gratin with rainbow chard, collard greens, and gruyere by Chef Allison Jones.  Described as "rainbow chard, collard greens, and dino kale are blanched, creamed with nutmeg and thyme, then baked with gruyere and breadcrumbs on top. "

This sounded good enough, but I eat greens like this all the time, and didn't expect to care much about it.  But I've been really into nutmeg this holiday season, and who doesn't love gruyere?  Plus, I should have SOME vegetables with my feast right?

It was better than I expected.  Well cooked greens, creamy sauce, and crispy breadcrumbs on top.  It reheated very well.  Ojan's favorite dish from the meal, my second favorite.

It can't be Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes right?  Chef Jeremy Goldfarb provided these, classic mashed potatoes with chives, described as "whipped together with some cream, a touch of butter and some fresh chives".

The potatoes came in a mound that was clearly scooped with an ice cream scoop.  Visually, it reminded me of grade-school cafeteria food, which I think is the last time I encountered mashed potatoes served with a scoop.  But, you can't judge potatoes by their looks right?  Unfortunately, they didn't taste good either.  They seemed really, really starchy.  Neither Ojan nor I even wanted to finish the scoop.  Least favorite dish for both of us.

For accompaniments, there was also cranberry sauce, but it was fairly non-traditional, a cranberry apple chutney.  Described as cranberry sauce, with "pears, raisins, cinnamon, cloves, and the essence of orange", made by Chef Raymond Rayes.

I liked this quite a bit, it was my favorite component.  Sadly there was just a small little container of it, I would have easily enjoyed more!  I used it on top of everything to jazz it up.  I really liked how it wasn't cloying sweet like cranberry sauce can be, and the additional ingredients made it far more interesting.  Very well spiced.  I'm not sure if it had apples or pears, one description called it "cranberry apple chutney sauce" but the other said "pears".  Either way, quite tasty, and my favorite part of the Thanksgiving offering.

And of course, there was gravy, also by chef Levine, "a rich turkey broth thickened with flour and butter, confit giblets and black pepper."

It was pretty classic gravy, but I mean that in a good way.  It was flavorful, not lumpy, and a good addition to everything.

Overall, I was glad to get a Thanksgiving meal delivered to me, but I wouldn't do this again.  The price was quite reasonable for a full Thanksgiving feast like this.  I would never order turkey normally anyway, but I certainly would not get this stuffing or mashed potatoes again, since they were quite disappointing.  The gratin has inspired me to check out more of Chef Jone's dishes, since I hadn't tried any of her offerings before.  And the cranberry sauce makes me want to try more from Chef Rayes, as he clearly knows how to work with flavors.
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