Monday, November 30, 2009

Lessons Learned Thanksgiving 2009

We had a great time at my sister-in-laws for Thanksgiving. We had a good plan starting the day before and we ended up having some good breaks between times of food preparation.

We did the pies (Pumpkin, Apple and Chocolate Mousse) the night before.

After the Turkey went into the oven we cooked the neck and stuff into a stock for the gravy and boiled the potatoes and sweet potatoes. The turkey started at 500F for 30 min, it got a little smokey but the skin was George Hamilton brown. An exhaust fan that sends the fumes outside works way better then those that have the little filter on it. Then we dropped the heat to 350F and slapped a heat shield (Al foil) on the breast to keep it from overcooking. We had a nice break while all that cooked. Grownup talk time, yeah.

Then after mashing the potatoes (the food mill worked great for this), and a roux for the gravy we had another nice break.
Finally we blanched the green beans and cooked the bacon. Stir frying the beans in the bacon drippings with salt and pepper turned out great, though some garlic would have put it over the top.

After pulling the turkey, and draining the pan we used the turkey drippings for the dressing. A gravy separator or baster would have been handy but the baster disappeared, one of the kids must have got it, but poring off the fat worked well enough. I threw the rest of the dripping into the gravy with the roux and brought it to a boil to thicken.

Everything back into the oven to get warm, while the turkey rested. Called in the family, disassembled the turkey and served everyone buffet style. The mashed potatoes went more quickly then we expected, there were none left, they made extra so we'd have leftovers but oh, well.

The next day for dinner, I threw together a turkey casserole. Dark meat, dressing, green beans and gravy, with cheese and breadcrumbs on top baked for 20 min at 350F. Bubbling hot and crispy on top, was a big hit.
Usually I go for a turkey Shepherd's pie but without mashed potatoes I needed to improvise.

Lessons learned:
Ideally, I would have a timer for each burner on the stove and for the oven.
A food mill works great for processing lots of potatoes/sweet potatoes.
Using a thermometer for the turkey is way better then time.
A fan that exhausts the smoke outside is much more effective then the typical recirculating ones.
A tile floor is rather hard on my knees and ankles.