Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful for... Thanksgiving Turkey

I found out yesterday that there won't be turkey at my mom's Thanksgiving meal.

Did you catch that? No turkey. On Thanksgiving Day. No turkey. *big, huge, deep sigh*

One thing I will tell you is that I love turkey at Thanksgiving primarily because of my cranberry sauce. It's the best vehicle for that side dish and I just adore it. A second thing I will tell you is that the main thing my husband loves about Thanksgiving is the turkey. Turkey isn't something you cook on any random night. Cooking a turkey takes time and work. My mom got a ham. No turkey. So I opened my mouth and stepped up to take on a challenge that I'm not sure I'll succeed at but I'm going to try my best.

I'm making the turkey. And taking it on a 2 hour drive to its final destination. I've never made a turkey. I've made a turkey breast- super easy. Stick of butter and a crock pot, done. But I've never roasted an entire turkey. We shopped today. I'll be honest- our first stop was the deli to find out if it was still possible to order a cooked one. No luck. Saw lots of frozen turkeys. But I'm scared of the defrosting time required. Found fresh turkeys on sale. Found a giant bird that will more than feed my family and hopefully provide us plenty of leftovers. 18 pounds. I've been asking questions on Facebook about cooking a turkey. And I found a recipe that seems easy on Food Network- World's Simplest Thanksgiving Turkey. My plan is to do all the cooking on Wednesday evening/night and do the final hour of roasting at my mom's.

EDIT: After research and messages from folks, my plan has changed! Instead of cooking the turkey the night before, I'm going to start cooking in the middle of the night and have it done by the time we head out on the road. Food safety comes first!

I will convert the back of the minivan to a food storage unit. It will haul the cooked turkey, the cranberry sauce, the supplies to make the Sage and Hazelnut Green Beans, and the Pumpkin Crunch. And at least one bottle of wine. Maybe more. Perhaps this is the start of the passing of the torch? Maybe our Thanksgiving tradition will eventually mean that I drive to my mom's the day before to do loads of cooking for her and our family. I'm a little stressed about it and will pull on my very hidden Type A side to make lists and schedules in order to get everything done. I'm also a little excited to have such a big part of our family meal on my shoulders. I'm thankful for the opportunity to bring tradition to the table for our meal. I know it means a lot to Jeff and maybe to others who will gather at the table.

I'm thankful for turkey.



NO said...

You will do GREAT, Liz!

I admire you for trying and conquering most everything you set out to do!

Passing on of the torch, I was thinking of this today with my family...I wish I could pass the torch off my mom's shoulders....

Mellodee said...

My advice:

Just remember to remove the bag of giblets from the cavity! (I read somewhere it's the most common error first timers make!) Check both cavities because they sometimes hide things in both!! I think fresh turkeys taste 300% better than frozen ones. I also prefer them NOT pre-basted! Hate that oily flavor the meat gets from that infused stuff. Lastly, it's ok to call mom with questions, it's sort of a rite of passage!

Happy T-Day! :)

kbiermom said...

I totally get the cranberry sauce thing -- I've made a turkey each Thanksgiving for the past twenty years, because I want *my* stuffing :)

Couple of more tips:

Forget brining. "Fresh" means "not frozen," not necessarily "untreated." And even if it is untreated, it doesn't need a salt bath. We've had untreated turkeys for the past two years, and they're the best we've ever had.

Rinse it all over, then let it dry completely before rubbing it all over with butter. The dry skin will take in the butter and result in a nice golden brown.

Use a Reynold's roasting bag. Really helps keep the juices in. Don't forget to cut holes in the bag. Otherwise, you create a rather fragile pressure cooker. This is a lesson I learned on maybe my second or third turkey -- suddenly, it was done way ahead of schedule, and there were no sides ready at all! That will forever be known in our family as The Year of The Turbo Turkey. I'm just thankful it wasn't The Year of the Exploding Turkey :)

kbiermom said...

Oh -- something I learned just last year -- let the turkey warm to about room temp before rubbing the skin with butter -- cold skin just doesn't take in the butter well.

I'll give you my stuffing recipe if you like :) If you don't feel like it, though, at least fill the cavities loosely with cut carrots and other root vegetables -- it will help the bird retain juices, and results in some nice stewlike veggies, yum :)

Garret said...

Get some sliced turkey at the deli and tell everyone you neatly carved it prior to their arrival.

Call Me Cate said...

You'll do just fine. My only concern with baking it the night before and doing that final hour of roasting at your mom's is that it might take a bit to come back up to temperature. Just make sure the internal temp is all good.

I think it's great that you're taking this on. I don't have meal traditions for most holidays (especially since it's usually just the two of us) but Thanksgiving for me is all about the turkey.

Alison said...

Hooray, how exciting! I'll bet Teagan will find it fascinating (I know I was always impressed with my 5'2" mom confidently manhandling the giant bird!)

I won't give you any advice, because it looks like you have plenty already. Ok, one bit...if the legs or something is browning too fast, just cover that part with a foil cap to protect it from the burner. Oh, and if your bird happens to be free-range, they need to be cooked at a lower temperature (I forget why).

Dangit, I wasn't going to give you any advice! Enjoy your adventure; I know you'll have lots of support.

Caution/Lisa said...

I agree with the advice about the butter and using a roasting bag. The back of your van sounds like a wonderful place to be on Thanksgiving.

Your post reminds me of the year my MIL served pork. My husband hates pork. I could not believe his tantrum. Your response is much better than his was!

Lola said...

Not this Tgiving, because transport would be difficult- but maybe sometime when turkey just sounds good - you can do them in a roaster. I was able to fit a 22 lb turkey in my large roaster and cook it that way. doesn't take up any oven space and was so juicy.
Anyway- just a tip for another time! :)

Good luck with your turkey this year- I'm sure you'll do great!

Shell said...

Lots of luck with your turkey! You'll do great!

Liz Mays said...

Turkey really is easy. Once it's in the oven, the hardest part is done!