The Perfectionist's Thanksgiving

See Also
The Feasts: Holiday Banquets to the Nth Degree
  Sunchoke Soup With Virginia-Ham Croquettes

The Chef
Thomas Keller of Per Se

8 people

1 ¾ pounds sunchokes 
4 tablespoons sweet butter
2 teaspoons thinly sliced garlic
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
3 ¼ cups chicken stock
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
5 ounces whipped heavy cream
64 croquettes (see recipe below)
8 sprigs of chervil

Cooking Instructions
Scrub the sunchokes and carefully peel the outer skin. Slice them thinly and store in ice water.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and sweat until softened (do not allow them to color). Drain the sunchokes and add to the pan, cover with stock, and simmer until the sunchokes are soft. Add the cream, return to a boil, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully ladle small quantities at a time into the blender and purée the soup until smooth and velvety. Strain through a chinois.

Just before serving, bring the soup to a simmer and vigorously whisk in the whipped cream to achieve a light, frothy texture. Put 8 Virginia-Ham Croquettes in each soup bowl and add soup. Garnish with chervil.

Best With
Suggested Menu: sunchoke soup with virginia-ham croquettes; virginia-ham croquettes; breast of four corners farm's turkey "cuit sous vide" and roasted leg "en ballotine"; giblet gravy; green-bean casserole: Oven-baked haricots verts with cream of california cepe mushroom and crispy shallots; garnet sweet-potato mille-feuille with white-truffle royale and shaved truffles from alba; Waldorf-salad stuffing; pecan pie with whipped cream; caramel popcorn.

To Drink: Pol Roger 1995 Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill; Champagne, France ($170). Rich enough to stand up to the flavor of the ham and sunchokes, and the bubbles contrast with the smooth soup.

Photograph by Reinhard Hunger