Janet and I take turns with the Thanksgiving meal each year with her side of the family, this year it's our turn to have it at our house. My parents and my oldest brother Mark will join us as well as Janet's mom Diane, her sister Lisa, her husband Greg and their two kids Ashianna and Grant. Koda, our puppy, will greet each one with a hearty series of barks and then will perch along side the most likely candidate to drop crumbs, the kids I'm sure. He is still a puppy, but he has already come to expect the certainty of this as sure as he knows Janet will give him a treat every night after the kids go to bed.
Our menu is still in pencil, but on the suggestion of a friend at work, I am still going to share what we are going to make.
I will have some stuff out for people to nibble on when they arrive, spinach dip, sweet pickle olive and marinated mushroom tray, smoked salmon on crackers, baked brie with sherry, maybe a fondu cheese something or other. Wine, beer, sparkling apple cider, sodas, water. Nothing to over the top.
The turkey, probably a twenty-five pounder, rinsed, dried, seasoned with sea salt and a cracked pepper mix. It will rest on a bed of vegetables, not a metal rack. Yellow onion, celery root, carrot, parsnip, fresh thyme, whole garlic, more peppercorns and a little white wine. I will cover the bird loosely in aluminum foil and uncover about 1/2 way through so it doesn't get too brown. I don't think I will baste it. After some discussion with chef buddies, I once tried a turkey without basting and the skin was quite tasty and beautiful. Over basting releases too much heat from the oven and can make the skin too soggy, in my opinion. I once smoked a turkey at a restaurant I was working at. I was magazine perfect in appearance, but the smoky flavor was too much. Smoked turkey sandwiches, smoked turkey soup, smoked turkey stock, smoked turkey...you get the picture. Janet gave me the head shake on that one, and I couldn't disagree. Once I pull the turkey out I puree all the liquid from the pan with a portion of the vegetables and strain it through a china cap or chinios, then I reduce the liquid into my gravy. I has great flavor and never needs flour or cornstarch. After the bird is eaten I clean it up good and put the bones with any remaining vegetables into the roasting pan and put it back into the oven on 400 to roast the bones. All of this goes into a stock pot with cold water and I simmer it overnight, strain it, cool it and freeze in batches using a zip lock bag. It is a great smell to wake up to. This tasty stock is used for any soups I might make later on, especially if someone is sick, Diane swears by it.
Side dishes will include the usual suspects, mashed potatoes (I will use golden yukon's), maple whipped sweet potatoes, steamed, and pureed with butter and syrup. I will have two batches of stuffing, one from inside the bird and one baked on the side. I'll make a cranberry dish of mine with onions, dried cranberries, orange juice and fresh sage that is a favorite for sandwiches later on. I am not sure about a side vegetable, I was thinking ratatouille because the kids will eat it and then I don't have to prepare two different kinds. Rolls, butter, Janet's cherry and pumpkin pies (She is the baker, not me), Mom's apple pie, ice cream and coffee.
I'm sure that's not all, something else will get added or removed. Anyway, it will be fun to prepare. What are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?
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