Mom, Wife, Chef, Gardener, Dog Wrangler, Mom, Writer, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Mom, Creative Problem Solver, DIY Chick...figuring out life one day at a time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mom/Contrite Blogger: November update

So here it is, one full month after I last entered a blog post. Between a sick baby, busy husband, my birthday, Thanksgiving and life in general November just flew by and I barely had a chance to check my email, let alone blog. So now, while the dogs are milling around begging for their walk, I am sitting down to ACTUALLY BLOG because the baby is asleep! Not asleep in my arms and fussing if I so much as shift position, but asleep in the bed in another room and I actually have a few moments of free time. Sorry dogs, you've got to wait.
So, November. November is a great month because 1) I love Thanksgiving, it's such a Chefy holiday, and 2) my birthday. Which was actually on Thanksgiving this year. First off thanks to all my wonderful family who braved the weather and gathered for my birthday celebration (held the weekend before the actual date) and thank you for all the wonderful presents. Also thank you to my husband for the Kindle, yet another reason I haven't made time to blog lately. : )
For Thanksgiving this year my husband and I decided to be at home, since he worked almost all day anyway and since we saw a lot of family the weekend before. Now this may sound shocking for a couple of Chefs, but I've never cooked Thanksgiving dinner before. (At home at least, I've helped cook it at work tons of times) When we aren't working for the holiday we always go to family's and only help with the cooking. This is the first time I've done it all myself. Surprisingly it was really fun.
Now, normally I'm all for traditional dishes, but since it was just the husband and I, plus a baby who wasn't interested in our food anyway, I decided to experiment a little.
Turkey: We had bought a fresh 20 pound turkey which we then split in half. Half went into the freezer for another use and half was for the big day. Rather than simply roasting the turkey in the oven I decided on a glazed turkey recipe from Cook's Illustrated. It called for a butterflied turkey, but half a turkey worked just as well. One hour before cooking (can be done up to a day ahead) I dried the turkey skin, poked some holes in it where there were big fat deposits, then rubbed the skin with a mixture of 1 T each kosher salt, pepper and baking soda. The turkey then sat at room temp for an hour before baking (store in the fridge overnight if doing a day ahead). I baked the turkey low and slow at 275 until it temped as done (165-175 degrees) then took it out and let it rest for half an hour while I made the glaze.
Glaze: 1 cup cranberries, 3 cups apple cider, 1/2 cup molasses, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1 T Dijon, 1 T grated fresh ginger, 2 T butter. Cook everything but the butter in a saucepan until bubbly and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, approx 30 min. Strain through a sieve, pressing on solids to get all the liquid. Discard solids. Transfer 1/2 cup of remaining glaze to saucepan, brush turkey skin with 1/3 of the glaze, place into 450 degree oven for 7 - 10 minutes to set the glaze. Remove turkey and brush with more glaze, repeat for three glaze applications total. Mix reserved glaze with butter and simmer with drippings from turkey to make a 'gravy'.

beautiful glazed turkey.
The turkey came out delicious, very moist and with crispy skin. The glaze was yummy as well, but I think I might be more of a turkey purist when it comes to glazed skin vs. regular. I think next year I will use the same method to cook the turkey, but skip the glaze.
Stuffing: my stuffing wasn't so much a recipe as a technique. This technique, also from Cook's Illustrated, is for getting as close as possible to stuffing cooked in the bird without actually cooking it in the turkey. It involves browning off some segmented turkey wings and placing them on top of the stuffing, then tightly wrapping the pan with foil before baking. You get the moist, turkey flavored stuffing without having to bother stuffing the bird. My stuffing involved both corn bread and sandwich bread, sausage, and sage. It was very good.
Sides included the traditional mashed potatoes and gravy and some oven roasted chantrell and crimini mushrooms that I tossed with oil, sage, salt and pepper and then roasted on a sheet tray in the oven at 450 for twenty minutes. Also, cranberry sauce that I made with cranberries and orange juice and spices.
the Thanksgiving table.
It was more than enough food for two of us, could easily have fed five. And best of all it was easy to get done between baby playtime and baby naps. I had a lot of fun doing my first ever Thanksgiving dinner all by myself and it was a nice 1st family Thanksgiving, since it was the baby's first Thanksgiving as well.
The full Thanksgiving plate.
So, there you go, my November in a nutshell. More to come on using Thanksgiving leftovers, budget friendly meals and holiday baking. As the baby allows...