Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

Yesterday I blogged as I cooked Thanksgiving dinner. It was my first complete TG dinner ever made all by myself, having gone to potlucks for the past 12 years. But this year we weren't welcome at the potluck and I was pleased to have the freedom to cook what I wanted, the way I wanted.

I thought I'd have many problems, mix ups, and fiascoes. Surprisingly, I didn't. I planned in advance, double checked ingredients (save for the buttermilk), and expected delays. My dinner table wasn't as pretty or as fancy as I would have liked. I'd planned on turning the little gourds into candle holders, and I'd thought I would plate up in the kitchen, but at the end, I just ran out of counter space.
Here are my lessons learned:
  1. Turkey: Don't put two cups of water in the pan. I think one cup would have been enough. Also, check the temperature much earlier. When I pulled it out to check it was at 180, so it probably rose to 190. The breast meat was good, but my guess is that when it's cold it will be dry. I found I didn't need to baste it--rubbing melted butter all over it before I put it in did the trick. I also cooked it on top of a whole bunch of carrots, a really big, quartered onion, and some celery, to make the juices flavorful.
  2. Stuffing: The cornbread by itself was really dry, so I'm glad I used it in stuffing. I used the Joy of Cooking Southern Corn Bread recipe, which was dead easy (email me if you want the recipe). Then, I cooked up some Jimmy Dean Sausage, and I do think next year I'll add some andouille to that. Into that went 3 tablespoons butter, 1.5 cups of chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery, a large clove of garlic, chopped. That cooked till fragrant, then I crumbled in the corn bread, about 1/3 cup chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage (which I'll increase to two T next year), 1 teaspoon thyme (again, I'll increase that), one beaten egg and chicken broth to soften. Next year: more onion, sage, thyme, another egg, and I think I'll take some of the liquid from the turkey pan in addition to the chicken broth--if I have as much as I did this year.
  3. Bubble & Squeak: Definitely this year's stand out winner. Juiceboy snuck back into the kitchen and had more later in the night. I'll post a separate recipe for that. It just kills me that it's a recipe for using leftovers and I made it all fresh!
  4. Corn Popovers: They were a nice idea and looked great as they puffed up in the oven, but they were heavier than I had thought they'd be. Don't know why I expected something like miniature Yorkshire Puddings when I loaded them down with corn meal and corn, but there you go. They were good with butter and I'm going to have one for breakfast. Hmmmm....what should I have on it? How about....
  5. GRAVY: My favorite part of any holiday dinner. The turkey gravy came out GREAT. First, I made a roux with about 4 T flour, and really let it cook. I think I could have let it cook a little more than I did, to darken the sauce. Then, I added room temperature chicken broth in doses, whisking like mad. All told, I probably added 1.5 cups. I took my de-fatted turkey juices and added about four cups, mixing well in between each addition, and then I just let it boil furiously for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. I was going to add some wine, but I forgot. And that was okay--it tasted great with just a shake of ground pepper. I'm happy to say I have a big container of "gravy fixins" in the freezer now for the future.
  6. Salad: I have a new sweet & savory salad dressing. Since I don't have measurements, it's not going to be its own recipe: about 1/4 cup honey, about one clove of garlic chopped fine, olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste, thyme, salt and pepper. This would be great with some crushed red pepper flakes, too. For the salad I tossed organic greens, one roasted beet that I'd julienned, about 1/4 cup dried cranberries, and some softened goat cheese. It was very good and I look forward to having it for dinner!
  7. Chocolate Trifle: Well--this went sideways. I was making Paula Deen's Chocolate Coffee Trifle, which I'd had at someone else's house. It was the best dessert EVER. However, I didn't have any Kahlua, and wasn't about to buy a bottle just for this dessert. Another missing element--I don't have a trifle bowl. So, we had pieces of cake with the fudge sauce over top, a scoop of Hagen Daaz vanilla and a little Cool Whip. There were supposed to be chopped up Heath Bars on it, but I forgot to add them. I don't think anyone noticed...not the way my guys were wolfing it down! I hadn't made the sauce before dinner because as soon as the popovers were done they needed to be served. And I was ready to eat after six hours of cooking.


Pixie said...

Hooray for you Fleagirl. That's really cooking! It'll be my turn to cook a turkey on Christmas day...and the beets? (Beetroot to me). I'll share 'em. I'll bring wine too. Love Pixie

Bon Vivant said...

Tired of the unexpected results of roasting a turkey, I paid my friend, who is a caterer, to deep fry me an organic Kosher turkey. For me, that's the way to go now; it was so much easier to concentrate on the side dishes.