Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving: The Acceptable

Here it is - kinda, there were peas too (this is a shot of the leftovers). Doesn't look too bad, does it?

Actually forgot to mention that I made an apple galette too (again, no pictures), which came out fine and joined a delicious lemon pie and some rice krispie treats made by our guests, and a pumpkin pie from the old Italian bakery next door (pumpkin pie much too daunting to attempt).

But other things were a bit more, shall we say, challenging...

The main problem was - all together now - timing.

The turkey got off to a good start, but then I worried it would be ready before our guests arrived, so slowed it down by covering it with foil.

But then I put the stuffing and the veggies in the oven and everything seemed to grind to a halt. Nothing was cooking.

So I turned up the oven a bit. And then suddenly everything was done all at once. Which was a bit of a problem, as I still had to rest and carve the turkey, reheat the cabbage, cook the carrots and peas, fix the gravy, etc. Panic!!

The Recipe: Basic Roast TurkeyAdapted from various sources, including Mark Bittman and the NY Times, which was running a very helpful and funny Thanksgiving web hotline.

Our 10lb turkey (very scary and repulsive).

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Prepare turkey: remove neck and giblets; rinse, pat dry; put onions and lemons into cavity (I used 1.5 onions, quartered, and a couple of lemons, halved), with some herb sprigs (I used thyme); rub outside with 3 tbspns melted butter, salt & pepper.
3. Put on rack in large roasting pan. Add 0.5 cup water to bottom of pan. Roast for 30 mins, then turn oven down to 325F.
4. Continue to roast, checking every 30 mins, basting if desired (people don't seem to think this is worth doing, I didn't bother). Cover top with foil if browning too much. Add 0.5 cup water to pan if it dries out.
5. Roast until done (temperature read in thickest part of thigh, not touching bone, is 165F). Allow approx 10-15 mins per pound.
6. Remove from oven, and allow to rest approx. 20 mins before carving.

Sounds so easy. Huh.

The Recipe: Roasted Vegetables
From my friend Kate.

I used half a butternut squash, 4 parsnips, 2 yams, 4 yukon gold potatoes, and had about twice as much as we needed (6 people).

1. Chop veggies into small-ish cubes (about 1.5 inches). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper, and toss to cover.
2. Roast at 400F (yes, a problem right there) for approx 30-40 mins or until done, tossing occasionally to make sure they don't stick and are roasting evenly.

The Recipe: Macheesmo's Favorite Stuffing
From Macheesmo.

My sister recommended the one she uses every year - it's truly gorgeous, but rolling logs was well beyond my capabilities.

Before all the trouble started.

I left out the chestnuts (as he suggested). His only problem with the stuffing is its tendency to be too moist. This is not an issue if you burn it to a crisp.


Oh, where to start?

The problem began, I think, with me trying to slow down the turkey. Too late (i.e. the next day) I saw the entry on the NYTimes blog that said you shouldn't do that - the turkey will be fine sitting and waiting for everyone/everything else to catch up. Better to have lukewarm, moist turkey than hot, dry turkey.

I'd hoped to start the veggies and stuffing alongside the turkey, then crank up the oven after it came out to finish them off. But that all went wrong.

Then I forgot to switch off the oven after removing the turkey, so even though they were done (perhaps perfectly) at that point, the veggies and stuffing sat there, overcooking, for the next 20 mins.

The veggies survived, but the stuffing was a travesty of its no doubt delicious self.

But the end result was still edible (mostly, see above), no-one got food poisoning, and only one person apart from Jack saw me have a very tiny meltdown.

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