Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Food, glorious food

Hope your Thanksgiving was warm, festive, and delicious. I do wish I had a more attractive photo of Taffy. This is her after the great roasting. It's almost an obscene image. She's not pretty, but she sure was delectable.

(I've no idea why the following text is underlined. Blogger?!?)

Our Thanksgiving lovely. For the first time in years I was alone in my kitchen on Thanksgiving day. It rained and rained, making us feel as if we were in a little cocoon. Lane entertained Jasper, taking him out on a few adventures so I could focus -- and focus I did. The quiet, mellow mood of our home made preparing dinner an almost graceful meditation.

It also helped that for once I was thoroughly prepared. Sides and desserts were either completed or started days ahead. Most of the remaining work had to do with the bird. And I'd kept things simple, limiting myself to just two side dishes and avoiding any other courses besides dessert. I have to emphasize, this is not like me at all. Usually when cooking during the holidays I am somewhat frenzied and there's usually some sort of meltdown. But this year I actually planned well and remained calm. Maybe I'm growing up after all.

Anyway, as Janet and Mary Ellen mentioned, the beneficiaries of Lara's Turkey Wisdom have been sworn to secrecy (what can I say, Mormons, even lapsed Mormons, love secrets). However, I can tell you that I used a trick from Cooks Illustrated of putting the breast on ice for an hour before roasting. I'm not sure if it contributed to the result. I roasted breast-up the entire time, basting only once. I probably didn't do anything you haven't heard of before -- I basically used just about every trick out there. I brined. There were loads of butter. LOADS.

Dear readers, though I shrink at the very hint of boasting, I must admit that this was the best turkey I've ever eaten in my life. The meat was tender, juicy, and flavorful. I almost didn't recognize it as turkey.

By the way, I cooked half of the stuffing inside the bird and the other half outside; stuffed stuffing was mushy and outsider stuffing was a bit dry, but it all worked out once I combined both. As for gravy, I cooked that right in the pan using turkey drippings and fresh giblet stock. I've since learned that you don't even need to use corn starch or flour for gravy; just start with the drippings, saute some shallots or onion, add your stock and about 1/2 cup white wine, and reduce, reduce, reduce until you have gravy. It will continue to thicken as it cooks. Bones contain a natural gelatin or something -- that's the magic behind this method. I'll definitely have to try this next time.

Not all of the pan drippings when into the gravy. Some of them went into this lovely onion jam that resulted from roasting pearl onions nestled beneath the turkey. This was the second most delightful surprise for Thanksgiving -- it was wonderful spread over rye crisps.

Well, maybe the second most delightful surprise is a tie between the onion jam and a last-minute guest, a young Spaniard friend of Lu's. It pleased me to no end to hear them chatting away in Spanish while I put the finishing touches on dinner. Yeah, Spanish at my Thanksgiving -- how American is that? I love it.

Some leftovers overstay their welcome; others are gone all too soon. The latter was the case with our turkey and fixings. The last of the turkey went into a chili Lane made Sunday night:

1 chopped onion
3 sliced cloves garlic
5-6 T chili powder
1 can tomatoes
2 cans black beans
2 T molasses
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheddar, sour cream, and fresh cornbread

I still have the carcass, which I will roast and then simmer with vegetables for stock. And so, after a long, lovely weekend that passed like a dream we are plunked into the next holiday season. Are you ready for Christmastime? I'm not quite yet. I'd like to enjoy the last few, quiet, brown November days before the clash and clang of red and white, holly berries and pine, silver bells and bright lights.

1 comment:

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Wow! Like your food, that was totally worth the wait. Your turkey looks fabulous, as did all the other fixings. Yum! Looks like your Thanksgiving was an absolute success. Congratulations!