Saturday, November 27, 2010

My little Thanksgiving

Set the table! It's Thanksgiving!

Well, I'm sure you've all been just dancing in your seats to see what act of foodie foodie genius took place at my house on Thanksgiving. (harhar)
This year Thanksgiving was considerably small compared to past holiday seasons. Normally, members from several generations flock to my parents house dawning things like sushi, fried rice, turkey, stuffing, and other such things. (Sushi? For those of you who don't know me personally, I'm half Japanese. This makes for very interesting and very yummy family dinners.) BUT this year, we had just a little gathering with my parents, my brother, my sister, her boyfriend, my grandmother, and yours truly.
I'm not sure what got into my mother's head, but she decided that we should have about a zillion times as much food as seven people could eat. An AMAZING assortment of cheeses, home-made sausage, and yummy crackers (courtesy of my brother) TWO turkeys, TWO huuuuge things of dressing (stuffing that has never seen the inside of a turkey) about 100000 lbs of mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, rolls, two giant pies, and a pound cake with ice cream. Looking back, it doesn't sound like a lot of food for Thanksgiving... but really it was. I swear...
Because my grandmother on my mom's side always brings the turkey every year, and because she and my grandpa were sick with colds this year :( We were in charge of the turkey. In a family full of foodies, you'd think we'd be fighting over who'd do the turkey, but somehow, only my father and I ended up doing them. We of course, were in heaven. He did a pecan smoked 12-pounder and I did a roasted 18-pounder. It was quite intimidating... You mess up something as important as the turkey in my family, you get made fun of until someone else messes up equally as badly! Anyways.. here we go.

My First Turkey
My dear friend, Ashley, has a turkey-goddess mother, Miss Susan (who I now refer to as "Turkey Goddess Miss Susan/Mama Florida.) She lives in Florida and Ashley and I visit her roughly every summer. She, happily, had a wonderfully easy recipe that she gladly shared with me. After a taunting phone call from my sister ("YOU'RE doing the turkey?! oh my God DON'T MESS IT UP!!! hahah") plus a few additions and changes– here is what I ended up doing.

One 18 pound turkey
1 stick of salted butter
1/2 C of salt (kosher or sea salt work best)
a bunch of pepper (adjust to how much you like pepper)
2 tbs poultry seasoning
1 1/2 tbs pickling spices
1 medium yellow onion
1 honey-crisp apple (or any type of very sweet apple)
1 head of garlic
2-3 sprigs of rosemary
1 C chicken broth
1 clove garlic

Dry-rub for the turkey
Make sure to defrost your turkey before-hand. Dawn your handy-dandy latex gloves, (if you're as weirded out at man-handling a whole raw turkey as I am) remove the stuff inside of the turkey, rinse it off, and pat it dry with a paper towel. Make sure you dry the cavity on the inside. Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and pickling spices in a little bowl. Set aside and then soften the butter so that it's just warmer than room temperature. Rub the butter all over the turkey with your hands (the latex gloves make this a little less weird..) and sprinkle 1/2–3/4 of the salt/spices mixture on the outside. Then, sprinkle the remaining spices into the cavity. Now, take off your turkey gloves and chop the onion and apple into large chunks. Put them into a microwavable bowl with a splash of water and microwave for one minute.
While that's getting nuked, get your overly enthusiastic father to whack the head of garlic in half so that it looks like this:
photo from "The Saucy Chef Notes"
By this time, the microwave should have called your name so go fetch the onion and apple and shove them inside the turkey cavity along with the garlic and rosemary. Now, get the turkey totally ready for roasting. My dad and I had to wrestle the wings and legs into the right positions so that the stuff inside the cavity didn't fall out. Put the turkey in  the oven. I wasn't so sure about the whole tinfoil thing, Mama Florida had told me to put it on from the very beginning, but I ended up uncovering it for most of the cooking time and re-applying the foil toward the end to avoid skin-burnage.
While that's roasting away, warm the chicken broth with the clove of garlic in a little pot on the stove. Roughly every 45 minutes, baste the turkey with the garlicy-broth. Make sure not to baste it to the point that the dry rub runs off. If you run out of broth, simply use the juices that are in the bottom of the roasting pan.

When receiving the glorious recipe from Mama Florida, she told me that turkeys normally need about 15-20 minutes per pound. This worked out to be just about 4.5 hours for this monster turkey. But BEWARE. My parents' oven must be on steroids (and takes advantage of convection technology) so instead of 4.5 hours, the turkey was done in 2.5 hours. Crazy, huh? Moral of the story: learn your oven... and keep a meat thermometer nearby. The turkey is done when the breast is about 160° and the dark meat like the thigh is around 180°. My turkey didn't hit these measurements exactly, but close enough. Take the turkey out and cover it with foil. During the first 15 or so minutes of the oven, the turkey will continue to cook. Actually, it'll probably raise 1 degree per every minute for about 15 minutes. ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN. If you cut into the turkey right away, it'll lose all of the yummy juices. Be patient.. 

Here it is, in its Turkey Glory!
I thought it was quite successful. I was terrified that it'd turn out really dry, but thankfully, it was very good! 

After doing the turkey, I helped out with the rest of the preparations like cranberry sauce and the other turkey (who's recipe I may or may not post... if I feel so inclined haha) and then ate myself into a glorious Thanksgiving food-coma. After we all stuffed ourselves, my mother's not-so-secret-plan of sending us all home with an absurd amount of leftovers panned out, and here I sit with a lovely little Thanksgiving left-over "sangwich":
Oh.. I do love leftovers!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Foodie foodie!

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