Turkey Day!

We’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the time to post about Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a great time with their family, friends and loved ones. Sol and I had a small get-together with a couple of our friends and my sister (who came to spend Thanksgiving with us).

Shall I go over the spread for you? Remember that this food was for a party of 5, be impressed. We had turkey, cheesy mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cheesy broccoli, dinner rolls, Nutella cheesecake, caramel pumpkin cheesecake and cookies. YUM. Needless to say, we had leftovers! And, everything we served was made from scratch!

Harold the turkey

We pre-ordered our fresh, 10-12lb turkey from Whole Foods. The turkey was amazing. Though, personally, I couldn’t really taste the difference between fresh and frozen. Perhaps we’ll try a frozen one next time and cook it the same way just to see if we can taste the difference. If we can’t, I don’t see why we can’t buy a cheaper, frozen turkey next year. I’m all about cheap meals. Also, in addition to the whole turkey, I bought 2 more turkey leg/thigh pieces because I wanted there to be enough dark meat to go around. We definitely had enough turkey! What we did was brine the turkey the night before and then stuff him and cover him with compound butter before we put him in the oven. I will go over this in more detail later in the post.

The stuffing was based on a recipe that came with the bag of stuffing bread from Whole Foods – Traditional Herb Stuffing. With this one under our belts, we’re going to be a bit more adventurous next year.

Cheesy mashed potatoes? That was Sol’s deal, I had nothing to do with those so I couldn’t really tell you much about them – other than they were creamy and cheesy goodness!

I will definitely get around to posting about the Nutella cheesecake and caramel pumpkin cheesecake recipe later.

The cookies and dinner rolls were courtesy of our friends.

It was quite the spread and we had such a good time! I wish I had taken more pictures of the food…but, I was too busy eating to stop and take pictures of it!

Now, perhaps you might want the recipe for an awesome turkey? I would love to share it with you. I was inspired by two different recipes – a recipe from Rachael Ray and one from Emeril Lagasse. So, I will post my rendition here.

Brined Roast Turkey and gravy

Ingredients

  • 10-12lb turkey
  • kitchen string
  • brining bag

Brine

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

For inside of turkey

  • 1 large orange, cut into 1/8ths
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1/8ths
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 bunch sage

Compound Butter

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, parsley and chives
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Paula Deen’s House seasoning
  • No-salt Kirkland seasoning

Gravy

  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Paula’s House Seasoning

Directions

  1. Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a nonreactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, food grade plastic storage bag). Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary. Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.
  2. Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey and reserve for the gravy. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.
  3. Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  4. Make your compound butter – combine all ingredients and mix well.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Place breast side up in a large, heavy roasting pan, (on a roasting rack so that you can get to the drippings at the bottom of the pan) and rub on all sides with the compound butter. Season lightly inside and out with Paula’s House Seasoning. Stuff the turkey with the onion, orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and thyme. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.
  7. Roast your turkey at this high temperature for 45-60 minutes to guarantee a golden brown color.
  8. After roasting at 425 degrees F, bring temperature down to 375 degrees F and roast at this temperature for the rest of the time.
  9. Continue roasting until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. Be sure to baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.
  10. Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 45 minutes before carving. Letting the turkey rest will ensure that the juices will not run straight out of the turkey when you carve it (leaving you with a dry turkey).
  11. Don’t throw those drippings away! You will use those for the gravy. Pour the reserved turkey pan juices into a glass-measuring cup and skim off the fat.
  12. Place the roasting pan on 2 stovetop burners over medium heat, add the pan juice and 1 cup turkey (or chicken) broth to the pan, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  13. Add the remaining 3 cup of broth and bring to a simmer, then transfer to a measuring cup.
  14. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Add the hot stock, whisking constantly, then simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  15. Add the scraps of turkey meat from carving to the pan and adjust seasoning, to taste, with house seasoning. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.
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