Thanksgiving Food

23 Nov

Well, Thanksgiving is over for another year.

I did cook this year, but I almost didn’t.

This year it just so happened that my little family of 4 was on our own for Thanksgiving dinner, which I’m perfectly fine with. No, living 20 driving hours away from your entire extended family is not a barrel of laughs, but it’s our reality and we’ve embraced it.

A few weeks ago I started thinking how I wasn’t really feeling the whole turkey and 8 side items shebang this time and maybe I just wanted to order one of of those catered Thanksgiving dinners from a restaurant where they’ll cook everything for you the day before and you just have to heat it up before you serve it.  Not sure what I was thinking. Thanksgiving is the Super Bowl of cooking – an event I’ve been preparing for all year, and I’m gonna let someone else run the ball for me? note to self: try to make it so there’s less football on the television.

Aside from the fact that I prefer to make my family’s food myself, we would certainly be overpaying for the food through a caterer (pretty sure I can make a green bean casserole for less than $15.99).

So it was a no-brainer. I would be cooking Thanksgiving dinner myself.

Just in case you’re wondering, the catering deal was $60. It’s hard to say exactly what I spent on my ingredients because I picked up a few random non-Thanksgiving food items while I was at the store, but my entire receipt came to $58 and change. Cha-ching! Nailing this already.

I stumbled upon this video, which is the simplest turkey recipe I’ve found. It also happens to produce the most amazing gravy I think I’ve ever tasted. I was nervous about incorporating the neck and heart and stuff because, well, it’s super gross. I like to avoid thinking about the turkey as having been an actual living thing, and acknowledging the presence of a heart really makes that difficult.  But I followed Chef John’s instruction and used the bagged organs to make a stock which later turned into the aforementioned amazing gravy. Pretty sure when whoever first started using “gravy” as a street word to describe something that is better than good, they were inspired by this gravy. The gravy section is in part 2 of the videos, in case you’re actually interested.

What initially caught my attention was his technique of spreading butter under the turkey’s skin before cooking. I’ve never heard of that before. Of course I’ve since found out pretty much everyone else already knows about the under the skin trick and has done it before. This happens to me regularly. Sorta like the time I thought I invented the fact that heavy cream will turn into butter if you whip it long enough.

Anyway, amazing turkey. Here’s a picture of it before it went into the oven. I don’t have an after picture because when it came out of the oven I was thinking more about eating it than taking its picture.

In addition to learning about the under-the-skin thing, I learned that the celery/onion/carrot bed under the turkey is referred to as a mirepoix. Not, as I incorrectly texted to my mom, a meer-plah. Seriously, I had no idea what the guy was saying on the video. Just goes to show you, you’re never too old to ask your mama what a word means.

Anyway, the whole dinner went off without a hitch, amazingly. Except that the turkey ended up cooking faster than I had estimated (my Jedi math skills fail me again), and I had to scramble a little to get the other stuff finished quickly. But yeah. It all worked out pretty well!

Here’s a picture of my plate, before gravy. I didn’t want you to see how much gravy I heaped on. It was embarrassing.

I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving, surrounded by people who love you. I know I did.

ps- It’s officially Christmas now.

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