Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

This Monday morning around 10am, I finally got into Thanksgiving mood.  I called Bacon street farm to place and order for bread to be picked up Wednesday and was told that I was too late.  No more orders before Thanksgiving.  Somehow I always forget that this Thursday will be the only day a year that all Americans cook.  What better way to prepare for celebrating bounty than to experience a bit of a shortage.

This is the first time in my life that I'll be hosting our family for Thanksgiving instead of them hosting us.  We had a good excuse -- a 3 month old baby.  You'd think that I'd be confident about my Thanksgiving meal given that I teach people to cook for a living.  Quite the opposite.  While most people don't know what they are getting themselves into, I do.  To me, a traditional Thanksgiving meal is a masochistic undertaking for both the cook and the guests.  We are forced to make 10 times the amount of food we are used to and somehow keep it all warm.  We are also forced to eat 10 times the amount of food we are used to and somehow not throw up.  Since neither concept is my idea of fun, I decided to break with tradition and trim this insanity down to bare minimum.  My goal is to serve a reasonable amount of the best food I can make and to serve it hot.  I also want to leave plenty of space for my favorite part -- the dessert tarts.

What about the turkey?  As much as I would love a vegetarian Thanksgiving or one that featured a prime rib roast, I want the challenge of cooking the most difficult protein on this planet (a.k.a. the turkey).  I will only cook the breast and do it sous-vide.  This might of course back fire, but how often do I get to try something like this.  It will free up my oven for other dishes and if all goes well, we won't have to eat saw dust turkey for dinner.  Here is the full menu:
  • turkey breast with porcini gravy
  • turkey skin stuffed with chestnut cherry stuffing (since the skin doesn't do too well sous-vide anyway, I am planning to remove it, stuff it and roast until crisp)
  • mashed potatoes
  • green beans with cranberries and cashews
  • pear ginger tarte Tatin
  • apple tart
Thats it!

I plan to serve potatoes straight from the water bath, gravy from a squeeze bottle set in a water bath, and serve the turkey from a cast iron skillet in which I'll sear it in the end.  To tell you the truth, I don't care that it won't look beautiful.  I care that it will be hot and tasty.  

There is so much I am thankful for this year.  I am thankful that Sasha was born healthy, that he is growing well and smiling a lot; I am thankful that Sammy jumped into the big sister role with joy, that she sings and dances and says the cutes things; I am thankful that our children have the joy of grandparents and that our parents have the joy of grandchildren; I am thankful that I have the most kind, understanding, loving, and supportive husband; I am thankful that my 80 year old grandmother is still willing to travel to see us and be the life of the party; I am thankful that my brother is able to join us all the way from Colorado; I am thankful for having Gaia and Jerome as our friends.

I am also thankful for my open minded family.  Not everyone can get away with such chutzpah -- no whole turkey, no gravy boat, and only 2 side dishes.


Tom said...

I cooked a 13 lb turkey this year, and it came out great. I know everyone says their own food was excellent, but I really don't think turkey is that difficult.

I think injecting brine directly is the best way to ensure moist meat. I injected about a half cup of brine into the turkey before cooking, both white and dark meat. I oiled the skin and started it in a 500° oven. After half an hour I lowered the temp to 350° and covered the breast in foil. I cooked for ~2 more hours until a probe thermometers in the deepest part of the breast registered 165°.

The white meat came out tender and juicy. The dark meat was cooked through and deliciously rich. I think this is a relatively simple way to get good turkey every time - there's absolutely no excuse for sawdust turkey.

Isaac said...

I like the idea of pear ginger tarte tatin. I've made pear tarte tatin, which I might like more than apple tarte tatin actually. How are you planning on integrating the ginger? I would probably put a chunk or two or fresh ginger in with the boiling caramel and then take them out at the very end, after it's turned out.

Helen said...

I put a lot of chopped fresh ginger (about 2 Tbsp finely minced) for a 10 inch skillet. I spread it over and between the pears after the first step of cooking them. It gets a lot milder after cooking.

Here is the basic pear tatin recipe that I use.

Anonymous said...

would love to have a recipe for a turkey skin stuffed with chestnut cherry stuffing! thanks

Anonymous said...

So how did the sous-vide turkey turn out?