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Old 11-24-2005, 07:03 AM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Happy (American) Thanksgiving

We are staying home, just the two of us. Since I spent yesterday having another dental implant (4 hours this time!), I am thankful to stay home, especially since the weather is kind of iffy.

We found an 11-lb free-range turkey, which I will roast unstuffed at high heat (450° F). The technique works really well with chickens, and I hope it works for this big bird as well.

Just learned a neat trick: do not tie up the legs, and cook the turkey with the drumsticks facing the back of the oven, which is hotter. That way the dark meat should be done before the breasts are overcooked. We shall see.

I have tried every trick in the book over the years — cooking it upside-down or turning it over every little while. Butterflying it (one thing with a chicken, quite another with turkey — had to get out a saw for the back!) Having the butcher cut it into pieces, which is really fast and works fine but makes for a disappointing presentation. The advantage of this high-heat process is that it requires very little wrestling with the bird, hot or cold; and it cooks pretty fast that way (especially when unstuffed).

I used to baste or do what my mother always did (place oiled cheesecloth over the breasts), but no longer bother. One year I tried rubbing seasonsed butter around just under the skin — ick! I have never tried to brine a turkey (but do salt the skin all over, which has a somewhat similar effect, not sure why). And did not succumb to the craze for deep-frying, either.

I will make stuffing, in a casserole (stealing some of the turkey drippings to make it taste more authentic). If I get my act together to make turkey stock this morning, even a good gravy. And braised carrots. And maybe a light salad of belgian endive and raddicchio in a vinaigrette.

That’s it. Quite enough to wear me out, and more food than we can possibly eat in a week! (A friend is passing through tomorrow, on her way home from visiting relatives — I hope to persuade her to take some of the turkey.)

Anyway, hope you all have a wonderful day. No strife, good company, food that satisfies the occasion, a nice glass of wine. And, if you have the urge, even a football game or two.

   
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Old 11-24-2005, 01:01 PM   #2
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As it's now mid-afternoon for many of you, I hope you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving. Is the main (turkey) meal taken at lunchtime, or in the evening?

Do let us know how your turkey turns out. I've never attempted to cook turkey, but find that the mixed (microwave/convection) method in my oven does a great job of chickens. It recommends putting the bird breast down for the first half, then breast up for the second half, and I find that the breast does stay much more moist, while the bird browns nicely. I remove the yucky supermarket stuffing, and leave the legs untied.

   
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Old 11-24-2005, 01:07 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by annc
As it's now mid-afternoon for many of you, I hope you are all having a wonderful Thanksgiving. Is the main (turkey) meal taken at lunchtime, or in the evening?
I think it is often served not quite at lunchtime, but around 2 or 3 p.m. (sort of the p.m. version of brunch — “linner”).

We will eat more or less at our normal time. I am just taking a break before putting the turkey in the oven.

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Do let us know how your turkey turns out.
Will do. This method works terrifically with chicken, but that is much smaller. I do think I may have to tent the breasts with foil for a while if only to keep the skin from scorching.

I have tried turning turkey over in the middle of cooking, but a hot, slippery, 12-to-20 lb object with no secure handles is a non-trivial task that I will never try again!

I will let you know how this experiment turns out.

   
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Old 11-24-2005, 01:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ktinkel
I think it is often served not quite at lunchtime, but around 2 or 3 p.m. (sort of the p.m. version of brunch — “linner”).
Ah - that tends to happen to us on Christmas Day, although not usually as late as 3 p.m.

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I have tried turning turkey over in the middle of cooking, but a hot, slippery, 12-to-20 lb object with no secure handles is a non-trivial task that I will never try again!
Can't say I blame you! A medium chicken can be difficult enough to do without doing it some damage.

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I will let you know how this experiment turns out.
Thanks! I look forward to hearing how it went.

   
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Old 11-25-2005, 05:20 AM   #5
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Our family feasts (we did Thanksgiving six weeks ago, and will do Xmas in 4) usually involve a 2-3 p.m. eating time. This allows those who drive several hours to the meal time to get here, visit, help with the prep, and at the end to have time to drive home without being up all night.
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Old 11-25-2005, 08:05 AM   #6
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Thanks! I look forward to hearing how it went.
It was terrible! Worst turkey story since I was 20-something and learning to cook!

Not entirely because the approach was wrong — probably because I tinkered with it. I tented the breasts with foil for an hour, which was probably a mistake. The legs were over-cooked, the thighs not quite, and the breasts were still a bit raw-ish on the interior. (All that, even though the thermometer did not show any less than 170°F at any point!)

Weirdly bad. Fortunately, there was enough to eat and both dressing and gravy were good. And my simple cranberry sauce (just berries and a bit of sugar boiled for 10 minutes) covered some of the flaws.

At least it happens at a good time (for me): I cannot eat sandwiches or anything that calls for biting with my front teeth for three weeks, so I will not miss the leftovers. Just go right into turkey tetrazini, turkey hash, turkey soup, and so on! <g>

   
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Old 11-25-2005, 10:42 AM   #7
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Our target hour yesterday was 2:00-3:00 but it ended up being just before 4:00. Kept the kid happy, though, snacking on crackers and fruit.

Once the meal was cleaned up (except for dessert, which we opted to put off until dinner settled), we all sat down to enjoy the movie The Polar Express which my mom had brought to give to our son as an early holiday gift. When movie was done we had apple dumplings for dessert (also brought by Mom).

A crackling fire in the wood-burning stove kept the place very toasty and created great atmosphere. It was very chilly out (in the teens F), especially with the high winds, but very nice inside!

   
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Old 11-25-2005, 04:23 PM   #8
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kt: It was terrible! Worst turkey story since I was 20-something and learning to cook!
I'm sorry to hear that...there was an article a week or so ago in the Washington Post food section about cooking at 425-450 and the writer said that she didn't think it would work and was very surprised to say that it did...quite well in fact...

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Old 11-25-2005, 05:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donmcc
Our family feasts … involve a 2-3 p.m. eating time. This allows those who drive several hours to the meal time to get here, visit, help with the prep, and at the end to have time to drive home without being up all night.
In theory, that sounds like our way as well. Except that turkeys are notoriously unpredictable.

And so are the football games that keep (some of) the men preoccupied.

But we always manage to survive somehow!

   
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Old 11-25-2005, 07:09 PM   #10
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Unfortunately, football games don't work on hungry five year olds. They tend to stay underfoot and pestering for munchies, especially when there are no other kids to be distracted by.

   
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