November 26, 2008

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving...

....and all through the kitchen: the turkey was a-brining, the pie shells were a-chilling and the ice cream maker was a-churning. That's pretty much the status here. Actually, the turkey is no longer in brine but now splayed out on a sheet pan in all its full glory (legs wide open, wings akimbo) in the bottom of the fridge. I am following a Cooks Illustrated recipe, which involves letting the skin dry out before roasting. Supposedly this gives a crisper skin. All I can say is right now I crack up every time I open the fridge door and see that naked turkey butt staring at me.

Every year, I try some new-fangled turkey concept and it's usually a bit of a disaster. Let's not revisit last year's grilled butterflied turkey incident (charred on the outside, raw on the inside, anyone?) or the 18-pounder whose brining solution spilled all over the fridge and the floor the year before. This year, I'm back to the oven method but I still couldn't stay away from a recipe that promises perfection through complex processes. So I'll be turning the turkey over 3 times during the course of its time in the cooker, punching holes in foil to go under it and basting with butter. We'll see what happens. Next year, I promise, really, truly, I will just stick the thing in the oven, shut the door and wait until the timer goes off.

Anyway, also on the menu is stuffing which I haven't made yet but will be fairly basic: bread, turkey stock, celery, onions, sage, parsley, apples and pecans. Sometimes I add sausage and I bought a nice chicken-fennel sausage last Saturday with that intention but we ate it on Monday. Oh well.

Determined not to make the gravy easy either, I followed a NY Times recipe for making do-ahead gravy with real pan drippings. Took me all day Sunday. But I ended up with 2 quarts of gravy that is already done. I hate making gravy - always another stresser. It's hot in the kitchen, people are trying to get in and out of the oven while I'm stirring like a madwoman and cursing that stupid fat-separating measuring cup that never actually works. So the gravy is done and I hope it's okay. I didn't really taste it much on Sunday.

I'm making pies too. More on that tomorrow when I know how they turned out. Pie crust is my nemesis and I'm still not sure I succeeded this time. I made another batch tonight despite already having 2 pie shells in the freezer because I didn't feel confident about one of them (had to roll it out twice). So more rolling on the agenda in the morning. Man, do I hate rolling out pie crust - why is it my favorite dessert??

But I love this holiday. We all get along, there's a nip in the air, no gifts are required and it's all about food!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! May your turkeys be juicy, your cranberries neither too tart nor too sweet and your pie crusts flaky! Catch you on the other side of gluttony.