THANKSGIVING

THANKSGIVING IS EVERYBODY’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY FOR GOOD REASON:  IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD.  AND FAMILY, OF COURSE, ALTHOUGH THAT IS SOMETIMES PROBLEMATICAL.  MY FAMILY IS IN NEW YORK AND LONDON, SO WE TEND TO POPULATE OUR TABLE WITH FRIENDS.  THIS YEAR, MY DAUGHTER SOPHIE, HER HUSBAND RAY AND BABY CHARLIE WILL FILL OUT OUR MODEST GROUP.

SINCE EVERYONE HAS THEIR FAMILY FAVORITES — MASHED POTATOES, CREAMED ONIONS, A VARIETY OF CRANBERRY SAUCES, PUMPKIN PECAN PIE — THE MENU REMAINS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME.

OVER THE YEARS I’VE EXPERIMENTED WITH VARIOUS METHODS OF ROASTING TURKEY.  I’VE TRIED HIGH HEAT ROASTING, WHICH TURNS OUT A SUCCULENT BIRD WITH CRISP SKIN, BUT TENDS TO FILL THE KITCHEN WITH SMOKE.  ONE YEAR I USED A STEAMING-ROASTING TECHNIQUE  FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES.  IT WAS DELICIOUS BUT ENTAILED TOO MUCH TURKEY WRANGLING TO REPEAT.  THIS YEAR I WILL REVERT TO THE TIME-TESTED RECIPE — BROWN FOR 30 MINUTES AT 450, REDUCE TO 350 FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE COOKING, USUALLY ANOTHER HOUR OR SO DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF YOUR BIRD.  FIGURE A POUND OF TURKEY PER PERSON AND ADD A COUPLE OF POUNDS IF YOU WANT TO FEAST ON LEFTOVERS FOR A FEW DAYS.

I’VE FOUND THAT DRY BRINING WITH SALT, PEPPER, HERBS, AND LEMON IS AS EFFECTIVE AS WET BRINING AND FAR MORE MANAGEABLE .  I’LL COLLECT MY MARY’S ORGANIC AIR-DRIED TURKEY FROM WHOLE FOODS ON TUESDAY AND DRY BRINE FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS BEFORE ROASTING.

A GOOD MANY OF DISHES CAN BE PREPARED IN ADVANCE, INCLUDING THE TURKEY GRAVY WHICH I MAKE FROM BROWNED NECKS AND GIZZARDS SIMMERED WITH AROMATICS AND HERBS, THE CREAMED ONIONS, THE CRANBERRY RELISH, AND THE STUFFING.  AN EASY SOLUTION TO PROVIDING SOMETHING GREEN TO CUT THE RICHNESS OF THE MEAL, IS TO DE-STEM, WASH AND DRY CHARD, WHICH I DUMP IN THE PAN WHILE THE TURKEY RESTS BEFORE CARVING.  TURN THE HEAT TO HIGH AND TOSS THE CHARD WITH THE PAN JUICES.  WHEN IT WILTS, USE THE CHARD AS A BED FOR THE TURKEY.

I’VE PREPARED VARIOUS STUFFING RECIPES IN THE PAST, INCLUDING ONES MADE WITH STALE SOURDOUGH, WITH CORNBREAD, SOME WITH LOTS OF BUTTER, SAGE AND ONIONS, OTHERS WITH SAUSAGE AND FENNEL.  I ALWAYS MAKE THE STUFFING SEPARATELY BECAUSE IF YOU STUFF IT INSIDE THE TURKEY, IT TENDS TO SOP UP MOISTURE AND DRY OUT THE BIRD.  A BIT OF TURKEY STOCK ADDED TO YOUR STUFFING BEFORE YOU BAKE IT WILL KEEP IT MOIST.

I’VE ARCHIVED RECIPES FOR CREAMED ONIONS, SAUSAGE STUFFING AND GARLIC MASHED POTATOES, WHICH YOU CAN FIND UNDER BROUSE BY TYPE.  ONE LAST PIECE OF ADVICE:  WHEN YOU’RE SICK OF EATING TURKEY, DUMP THE CARCASS IN A STOCKPOT, FILL IT WITH COLD WATER AND SIMMER FOR A FEW HOURS.  WHEN IT COOLS, REMOVE THE BONES, STRAIN, AND CHILL OVERNIGHT.  THE FAT WILL RISE TO THE TOP AND HARDEN SO IT’S EASILY REMOVED THE FOLLOWING DAY.  FREEZE THE BROTH IN VARIOUS CONTAINERS.  IT’S THE BEST POULTRY STOCK YOU’VE EVER TASTED.

 

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