Archive for category Thanksgiving
You’ve heard of the 12 days of Christmas. You know the song. Well, you probably know some of the song…who really remembers each verse? This is the story of the 16 Days of Thanksgiving….what happens when suddenly you realize you’re going to host a party for around 30 people with just a couple of weeks notice. Life doesn’t stop, but the party goes on.
Terrific Tasty Turkey
Thanksgiving is the Momma of all culinary holidays. It’s the only holiday in the U.S. that is focused on 1) Giving Thanks for what we have and 2) EATING. That’s why dishes are prepared days in advance, we agonize over the turkey, and salivate over the dessert table. This Thanksgiving, I organized and cooked for 31 family members so I wanted to focus this particular post on our side dishes because they can be reused for Christmas or other holiday feasts, but I changed my mind after our turkeys stole the show!
Since we had over 30, I ordered a 16lb fresh turkey and 2 fresh turkey breasts from the local butcher. I picked them up on Tuesday afternoon and kept them cold in a cooler with ice until Wednesday afternoon. It was within the last 2 years that I learned about brining a turkey and I cannot say enough about it. The best turkeys are brined. Not only are they juicer, but they are literally full of flavor.
I do want to note that frying a turkey appears to be the “cheap” and “easy” way of preparing a turkey. I really don’t think it’s either. The peanut oil is crazy expensive (we needed nearly 6 gallons) and the entire process is time consuming. Still, it’s an incredibly good turkey and on the day of, if you have two cautious and safe people willing to take care of the actual frying while you are in the kitchen, then it is worth it because your oven is free!
Based on past experience with my brother-in-law, we used Alton Brown’s method of brining and frying the 16lb turkey. It is easy to follow the directions, the ingredients are simple, and the result is a delicious turkey. Make sure you follow the cook’s note regarding measuring how much oil you need before you brine the turkey.
I have to add a little side note here. Everyone knows that when you are planning a big event, something always goes wrong at the last minute. I didn’t mention that our Thanksgiving was not being held at my house. Nor was it being held at my in-laws house. It was being held an hour a way from my in-laws and they live 3 hours away from me. I decided to stay at my in-laws house to prep for a few days and then my husband and I drove down to the site very early Thanksgiving morning.
Our turkey frier came from another location entirely and on Wednesday night, we discovered the part that actually lowers and raises the turkey, plus holds it in place while frying, was missing. Not to panic, the men took off to find a replacement before the stores closed. No replacement was found. Instead, they returned with many…we’ll call them “parts”… to which they fashioned the missing part. It included a vegetable/fish grill pan, nuts, bolts, washers, and two very long rods. The next thing I know, they are using shears to cut down the grill pan, affixing the rods to it with the many washers, nuts, and bolts and have several others ready to help hold the turkey in place. In retrospect, we wish we had filmed it as an instructional video for You Tube for any other poor souls who find their turkey holder missing.
Our temporary turkey holder worked like a charm and our fried turkey was fabulous.
But let’s get to the other star of the show. Bacon and Herb Roast Turkey Breast – it just sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? It has bacon! It was amazing. For this one, I splurged and used the Williams-Sonoma Apple & Spices Turkey Brine. It is no longer available, but may show up again next year.
Since I had two, bone in turkey breasts, the cooking time was off and I ended up tenting the roasting pan with foil as it finished since the skin was golden brown about an hour into the roasting time. It didn’t matter. These birds were succulent, full of flavor, and created a herb and bacon aroma that filled the halls. They were beautiful. The herb paste and bacon grease basting created a golden brown crust. Inside, the meat was white, tender, and juicy. I have never roasted such a good turkey before. We used some of the leftover herbs (sage and rosemary) to garnish the serving plate.
Thanksgiving is over and you might think that I am ready to give the kitchen a break, but all I can think about is all the amazing Christmas cookies and desserts I have planned for December so stay tuned for Serving Up the Holidays, Part 3 “Decadent Desserts”!