On to the most important part of the Thanksgiving meal...the turkey! I decided to make Roast Brined Turkey (p. 443).
First step, brining the turkey. This was a slight problem...Josh and I were driving in on Wednesday, after he got off of work. This meant we got in around 1 am Thanksgiving morning. Another problem--what the heck should we brine the turkey in? I figured that a Styrofoam cooler would be as good as anything else--I got it at the grocery store.
The turkey, during it's rinse. I giggled the whole time--I don't know what it is about naked poultry but it makes me laugh every time.
The turkey then got dunked into the cooler and covered with two gallons of water and four cups of kosher salt (that is a LOT of salt). We turned the turkey at the six hour mark so that both sides would get brined, since it wasn't entirely covered. This picture was taken when the turkey was finished.
After the turkey has brined for 12 hours, we took it out and rinsed it well. This was difficult--how do you know it's fully rinsed off?
An onion, carrot, and celery were then cut up to be shoved up the turkeys hole. When I pulled them out at the end, Josh was very impressed, like it was a clown car.
The turkey was set on the rack of the roasting pan (my roasting pan that I have to haul back and forth every Thanksgiving). I was glad I had a roasting pan because if you don't have one, TJOC recommends that you "prop it up with crumpled aluminum foil" and that sounds complex to me. We seasoned the breast-side first because it was supposed to start cooking breast-side down.
TJOC doesn't recommend seasoning, but that doesn't seem like a good idea. So mom seasoned it with all kinds of spices.
And then quite a bit of melted butter (this part actually is in TJOC) was smeared all over the turkey and it was popped into the oven. About two and a half hours in...you are supposed to flip the turkey.
"What?" you, the reader, exclaim.
You flip the turkey. TJOC says "wearing heat-resistant mitts or protecting your hand with paper towels, grasp the turkey at both ends and turn breast side up." PAPER TOWELS?? To pick up a boiling hot turkey?? I decided this was the perfect opportunity for Josh and his brother to get involved in TJOTJOC.
The turkey, pre-flip:
Getting ready to flip the turkey, and, yes, holding it with paper towels:
Why the paper towels? The turkey was greasy (remember the melted butter?). I protected the metal handles with dishclothes so they wouldn't burn themselves. And BAM!
The turkey, post-flip. I have to say, the flip does not make for a particularly beautiful turkey--it kinda looked to me like it had six-pack abs. I'm imagining it tells you to flip because the dark meat cooks slower than the white meat and the flipping allows for the dark meat to cook for a longer time.
Like an idiot, I managed to not get a picture of the finished project (I was in quite a bit of pain by the end of the cooking and was trying to get all of the final pieces figured out (mashed potatoes, heating up the mashed squash, the gravy). It fell through the cracks :(
Josh and his brother Jordan carving the turkey--and my mother's electric carving set getting it's once a year use:
The beautiful turkey, being carved:
Yum! The turkey was a bit salty but EXTREMELY juicy. It would be really difficult to overcook this turkey making it an excellent first turkey for me to have made...a starter turkey!
On to Mashed Winter Squash (p. 308). This was the BIGGEST PITA of the entire Thanksgiving meal.
The recipe doesn't look hard at all. Bake some winter squash and mash it with some butter, brown sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cream. Easy enough, right? Except for I baked the squash until it seemed done. Tried scooping it out--it wasn't done. Put it back in the oven. Tried again, same problem. Tried it again. Honestly, this squash took about four hours on a day where we had very little extra time. I have to make this recipe once more (Mashed Winter Squash II), unfortunately, but that will be the LAST time I ever make it. Was it good? Sure, but not good enough to be worth the trouble. The mashed potatoes were good, too, and took about a half an hour.
I was so angry with this recipe I could barely force myself to take the one picture I did.
And here are some adorable holiday pictures!
Santa Duchess! She has such an impressive beard!
And Marilyn Gracie...such a bombshell!