Another Thanksgiving is in the books, and we are all a little fatter, and happier, and more thankful, because of it. Instead of putting away the china and silver, I thought I’d kick off the new week with a little recap. Because the second best thing, next to eating Thanksgiving dinner, is reminiscing about eating Thanksgiving dinner.
And that’s calorie-free. Win-win.
Sadly, I took no photos of our meal, excepting the above pic, and two shots of the pies I made the night before. It’s too much to ask that one cook a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner and also photograph it beautifully — even if I had any photography skills to speak of, which I don’t. (I did make it to the table with makeup on, though, so I consider that a major victory.)
Now, for the food. I’ll come back and link the remaining recipes, as time allows.
By rough estimate, I have cooked well over a dozen turkeys in my [redacted] years.
My first attempt was around the age of sixteen. My mother spent that particular Thanksgiving with her ailing father, so I attempted to take up the culinary slack and make Thanksgiving dinner for the family. Things went reasonably well — except that I couldn’t seem to find the giblets. A turkey cavity really isn’t that big, but the giblets eluded me. We did find them eventually: they fell out of the fully-cooked turkey and thunked onto the counter, still partially frozen in their paper wrappings.
Yes, we ate that turkey. And nobody died.
Nowadays, I consider myself much more turkey savvy. (I don’t stop looking for those giblets until I find them, for one thing.) But I have a few rules.
- Brining the turkey is a must.
- Dry-brining is easier that wet-brining.
- Spatchcocking the turkey is also a must.
- See Numbers 1-3.
Brining is the best way to flavor your turkey, and keep it as moist as possible. If you want more details on brining, I recommend visiting The Food Lab at Serious Eats.
I prefer dry brining because it’s easier than wet-brining, and it takes up considerably less space in my refrigerator. I love this herb dry brine from Southern Living, although I cook the turkey using a completely different method (see below).
The first time I decided to spatchcock a turkey for Thanksgiving, I had trouble finding a butcher who knew the word (and thereby how to properly mutilate the bird). The next year, I wised up and bought my own poultry shears. With a good pair of shears, spatchcocking a turkey is super simple, and the results are well worth any bone-crunching noises you might endure.
Everyone knows the real stars at Thanksgiving are the sides. This year, we had a smaller-than-normal crowd, and were thus missing a few staples: Macaroni & Cheese, Sweet Potatoes, and the like. Nevertheless, I think we made out pretty well.
- Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
- Roasted Root Vegetables with Cider Glaze
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Cornbread Dressing (my in-laws bring the dressing, but this recipe is similar)
- Fresh Cranberry Relish
- Homemade Yeast Rolls
Oh yes, the pies. I am thankful for pie.
- Apple Pie
- Pecan Pie
- French Silk Pie
- Pumpkin Pie
Confession: my mom brought the Pumpkin Pie.
I don’t make Pumpkin Pie because, quite simply, I don’t eat Pumpkin Pie. I don’t eat pumpkin anything. I don’t like pumpkin anything. Sue me.
But my eldest child loves Pumpkin Pie. And my mom aims to please her grandchildren.
That’s a wrap for Thanksgiving 2017. I hope yours was every bit as wonderful.
I am blessed.