Thanksgiving Day Game Plan
Lets talk about Thanksgiving.
Instead of bombarding you with yet another recipe for Grandma’s gravy, I want to share my general approach to the holiday. In short- we love Thanksgiving. Admitted stuffing junkies, we squabble over the drumsticks (thank goodness there are two!) and sneak bites of cranberry sauce straight from the fridge. Even when it is just the two of us, Mr. B and I look forward to cooking a blow-out feast with enough leftovers to last a week.
I have been responsible for cooking the turkey since I was in high school (mom was often working). I have tried every method from brining to rubbing, and stuffing or salting. The most reliable recipe from all of these attempts is not surprisingly the simplest. Gourmet’s Simple Roast Turkey with Rich Turkey Gravy is a standout winner. My only tweaks are to use the dry brine method and salt the turkey at least 24 hours before cooking. I also stuff slices of lemon, butter, and sage underneath the skin just before it goes into the oven (adapted from my favorite roast chicken recipe). The result is one seriously delicious bird!
I have cooked grocery store special Butterballs, pricey Heritage turkeys, experimental injected turkeys (don’t ask), and even beef (my grandparents don’t like turkey). This year, for the first time, I am very excited to be cooking a fresh local turkey. In late September we visited the farm and saw the turkeys in person. Raised in a natural manner, they moved around the grassy acreage in pens, eating bugs and grubs. Knowing the high quality of produce we enjoyed all summer from this farm, I am anticipating a fantastic turkey.
Each year I buy not one, but two turkeys. Two turkeys you ask? Yes, two. I picked this little habit up from my mother who would always buy a second turkey on sale after the holiday and stick it in the freezer. It is an economical way to feed a family later in the winter and gives you a great opportunity to play around with non-traditional turkey recipes. Last year Mr. B and I were enraptured by the Latin feast featured in the November 2008 issue of Gourmet and sometime in February set out to recreate a large part of the menu. In a word it was awesome. So good that we are skipping the traditional route entirerly this year and going straight for a menu of:
Clementine and Jicama Salad
Adobo Turkey with Red-Chile Gravy
Cornbread and Chorizo Stuffing
Poblano Potato Gratin
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (an odd choice, yes, but a family favorite)
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
My family is driving cross-country to join us and I can hardly wait to spend several days eating, drinking, laughing, and hanging out with them. Mr. B and my father are on a mission to go hunting as much as possible, and I’m sure to have several wild pheasant recipes for you in the very near future.
So, what are your plans for the holiday? I would love to hear any favorite recipes or approaches. Please speak up, because as you know, there’s always turkey #2!