Friday, November 23, 2007

My Thanksgiving Dinner Back Home

Well I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Mine turned out to be different than I had originally intended. I went back home to New York for a few days as we were off from classes for the week, but had originally intended to come back to Boston on Wednesday so that I could get some school work done and clean up my mess of an apartment before my mother came out to visit for the weekend.

However, at the last minute after night out with my dad in Saratoga, decided to make dinner for him and I. Issues seem to occur however when you decide at 9pm the night before Thanksgiving that you want to make a traditional dinner. First off, we had consumed quite a bit of wine, so neither of us was going to be driving to the grocery store that night. This brings about the other issue, as we were drinking that night, of course an early wake-up was not in order, but all the stores closed at 3pm. We did make it up in time though and we got to the store at 2pm. I was expecting there to be no one there, but oddly there were quite a few people there, many of them just doing their normal grocery shopping.

I obviously had to get a turkey, I also happened upon a pre-made turducken roulade (the picture is what it was supposed to look like, ummm no) that I had to try. I have made the real thing a few times and enjoyed it, I wanted t see how a pre-made version would come out. If you want the best recipe ever for turducken, click right here. The recipe comes from Paul Prudhomme, the link is to his website, with very detailed instructions and pictures as well. These were the directions I used for my first one I ever made, the recipes for the stuffings are amazing. I also saw a goose, which I can't say I have ever cooked. It was frozen so I wasn't going to be cooking it that day, but I purchased it anyway to store away in my dad's freezer for the next time I went home. I also picked up some brussels sprouts, along with some bacon, ham hocks, sweet potatoes, pomegranate, goat cheese, apples, onions, cranberries, oranges and some other odds and ends.

So, while many of you were about to start eating your Thanksgiving meal I was just about to put my turkey in the oven. I prepared a stuffing made with cornbread, which I added an ample amount of cranberries and goat cheese to. I ended up tossing the 18 lb. beast into the oven at 3:30pm. So at 15min/lb. the turkey was going to take about 4.5 hours at 325 degrees. I tossed the "I wish I was" a turducken in after the turkey was in for two hours; I barded it with bacon just to make sure it didn't dry out.

While the poultry was doing its thing, I simmered some cranberries in simple syrup along with some orange zest and orange juice to make a cranberry sauce, which I then chilled. For the sweet potatoes, I peeled them, sliced them thick and tossed them in a bowl with some minced fresh thyme, the juice from a pomegranate, a bit of maple syrup and some salt and pepper. I layered them in a roasting pan and baked them for about 45 minutes.

For the brussels sprouts, I rendered some diced bacon along with the diced fat from one of the ham hocks. I then sauteed a small diced onion and a couple small diced apples in the pork fat until they were well caramelized. I then added the brussels sprouts, which I had cleaned and quartered. I sauteed them for a couple minutes, and then added some chicken stock and red wine vinegar to the pan, along with some salt and pepper. I covered the pan and let them simmer for about 20 minutes.

Once the turkey was done, I removed it from the pan to rest. I deglazed the roasting pan with some Beaujolais Nouveau that I had opened, and placed all of the tasty bits into a medium saucepan. In a separate pan I browned the chopped neck of the turkey along with the diced giblets. I then added some diced carrot, celery and onion along with some minced sage and parsley and sauteed until the vegetables were soft and taking on some color. I added this all to the pot along with some chicken stock I had in the freezer. After the stock came to a simmer, I added some brown roux and simmered the sauce for about 20 minutes, ample time for the turkey to rest and for the roux to fully cook in the sauce. Once the sauce tasted perfect, I strained it and had a perfect sage scented gravy.

So the whole thing came together at about 8:30 pm when all of you were certainly heading to bed so that you could all make those ridiculous 4 am sales that I could care less about. Just watching the news and hearing bout the people who camped out for two days in front of Best Buy made me cringe from the excess of self-centered consumerism. I am all in support of consumerism, but a ploy to get people to sit in front of the store all night for publicity drives me nuts, but I digress.

The dinner was wonderful, the turkey was probably the best one I have ever roasted, perfectly tender and juicy (that whole resting thing). I also like to pull the whole breast off in one piece and slice against the grain like I would with any other meat, which makes the bird some much tastier, tender and it doesn't dry out on the plate. The pre-made turducken thing was a catastrophe however. It was dry and fell apart like fabled egg man on a brick wall. All in all though a great meal which I got to share with my dad. Lots of leftovers as well, which I'm hoping he enjoys. We ended up watching the entire last season of Top Chef on a day long Bravo marathon, along with episodes of the Thirsty Traveler and a couple episodes of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (the original version) on BBC America. Sooooo much better than the American version, chck it out if you can. We also watched the Iron Chef America episode with Rachael Ray/Mario Batali vs. Giada/Bobby Flay, made me want to tear my eye balls and ear drums out.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about my Thanksgiving, I hope all of you had an equally great Thanksgiving. Now I have to just figure out what to make for Christmas this year now.

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