Author Topic: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?  (Read 12535 times)

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The Wild One, Forever

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #45 on: November 02, 2013, 06:50:54 PM »
I think it's fine to do a practice run.  You can do so much with turkey, so it definitely won't go to waste.

As for the gravy, nothing wrong with having an easy back-up.  I always get a couple jars of the turkey gravy to supplement my home made, because I never seem to make enough, no matter how much I make, and when it comes down to leftovers, my son is decidedly not picky about whether it's my own or gravy from a jar.    :P
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PastryGoddess

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #46 on: November 02, 2013, 07:43:34 PM »
I cook my turkey breast down for the first 3-4 hours then flip it over for the last hour to dry out and brown.  I also stuff my turkey loosely with aromatics and vegetables to add flavor to the drippings.  I have a special pair of oven gloves just for this.

Like jpcher, I use a roux. the darker the roux, the less thickening power it has.  So a blond roux will thicken the gravy quickly, where a black or brown roux won't thicken as much.  My family doesn't like jarred or canned gravy, we stretch the drippings with chicken stock

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #47 on: November 02, 2013, 08:10:49 PM »
I cook my turkey breast down for the first 3-4 hours then flip it over for the last hour to dry out and brown.  I also stuff my turkey loosely with aromatics and vegetables to add flavor to the drippings. I have a special pair of oven gloves just for this.


I was thinking, "That's crazy! How would you even do that--flipping the bird while it's hot!"

Then I saw the bolded. Phew!

Though, my hat is still off you to--because it's still hot and heavy and slippery. Even with gloves.

I was reading that Alton Brown recipe w/ the brining, and wondering if I could even fit a 5-gallon bucket in my fridge.

magician5

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #48 on: November 02, 2013, 09:01:41 PM »
Get a meat thermometer, and buy some "backup" gravy to un-jar if needed.
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PastryGoddess

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #49 on: November 02, 2013, 10:11:21 PM »
I cook my turkey breast down for the first 3-4 hours then flip it over for the last hour to dry out and brown.  I also stuff my turkey loosely with aromatics and vegetables to add flavor to the drippings. I have a special pair of oven gloves just for this.


I was thinking, "That's crazy! How would you even do that--flipping the bird while it's hot!"

Then I saw the bolded. Phew!

Though, my hat is still off you to--because it's still hot and heavy and slippery. Even with gloves.

I was reading that Alton Brown recipe w/ the brining, and wondering if I could even fit a 5-gallon bucket in my fridge.
I cook it until the thigh meat is around 155 or so

Take the pan and put it on a flat surface with a towel underneath.  The surface should be ~waist height.  You don't want to try to do this above boob level
With your dominant hand grasp the open cavity and angle it upward. 
With your other hand grab the turkey between the legs *stop snickering* .
Lift the turkey completely up off the pan.  Rotate AWAY from you quickly and set the turkey back down with the breast up.  make sure to keep the cavity angled slightly upward, hot onions and turkey juice on your inner arm is not fun.  I usually take off most of the juice at this point as well and add the chicken stock to it
Place back in oven uncovered and cook until thigh meat is ~160.  Turn the temp up 25 degrees and cook until temp hits 165
I personally like to shove about a 1/2# or so of butter under the skin before I put it back in the oven, but your arteries may not agree

For brining, no need to put it in your fridge if you have outside space or a garage.  We brined 2 years ago and used huge cooler we kept full of ice.  That was a pain in the patootie, so no more brining until we can figure out a way to secure our outdoor space.

Rohanna

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #50 on: November 02, 2013, 11:42:16 PM »
I brine mine inside a big cooler I bought on clearance :)
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peaches

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #51 on: November 03, 2013, 12:10:39 AM »
Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) has a recipe for roast turkey that's simple, straightforward and delicious.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/perfect-roast-turkey-recipe4/index.html#!

If the turkey breast gets very brown, you can put a piece of foil over the breast (not the whole turkey, you don't want to steam it).

Another hint: if you have a dining room, you can set the table way ahead of time. I do that a day or two ahead. If you're worried about dust, you can turn the glasses over and/or throw another tablecloth over the whole table. 

My menu would look like this:

Turkey
Dressing
Gravy
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Green beans or other green vegetable (Ina Garten's Spinach Gratin is wonderful, if you have the oven room!)
Rolls
Cranberry sauce
Dessert

I like the color variation in this menu. And it's balanced.

I serve one dessert if the group is small, two different desserts if the group is larger. (Dessert is something that's easy to delegate if someone offers to help.)

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #52 on: November 03, 2013, 12:25:41 AM »

For brining, no need to put it in your fridge if you have outside space or a garage.  We brined 2 years ago and used huge cooler we kept full of ice.  That was a pain in the patootie, so no more brining until we can figure out a way to secure our outdoor space.

Unfortunately, I don't have an outdoor space. Well, not one that's only mine. But the big cooler is an interesting idea.

I keep adding side dishes to the list as I go along. "Brussels sprouts, shredded or whole? Oh, and gotta have green beans. Roast potatoes, of course, and probably some sort of sweet potatoes too. Probably need some fresh crunchy vegetables. Corn--canned corn is easy, and if you put a lot of butter on it, people like it. Salad--DH says we probably should have a salad. Oooh, this roasted cauliflower recipe would be good."

See what I mean? I'm going to have to stop myself at some point.

I learned my lesson about the dining room table--we tried to set it up the day-of and that was a total disaster. So we'll set it the day before, and iron napkins, tablecloths, etc., a week before.

cicero

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #53 on: November 03, 2013, 02:12:32 AM »


Another hint: if you have a dining room, you can set the table way ahead of time. I do that a day or two ahead. If you're worried about dust, you can turn the glasses over and/or throw another tablecloth over the whole table. 


I get one of those clear plastic table covers and throw it over the whole thing - gives the table a whole Mrs. havisham's dinner look. >:D

at the same time, i get out my servings bowls/platters/utensils, rinse them if needed, and stack them on the breakfront or counter so that they are there.

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PastryGoddess

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #54 on: November 03, 2013, 01:23:13 PM »
just went to check and we have a 150qt cooler we got from walmart.  We kept it on the front porch at night to keep it cool and brought it in during the day.  It was so heavy and there were no wheels to help with the process.

bopper

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #55 on: November 04, 2013, 02:20:58 PM »
If this is one of your first Thanksgivings, I would not do anything too fancy with the turkey.

lowspark

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #56 on: November 04, 2013, 02:42:56 PM »
I know many people dismiss these because they claim it steams the turkey instead of roasting it, but I always use Reynolds Turkey size Oven Bags. I've never had a bad turkey out of one of those. They come out moist with plenty of drippings for gravy. The guide lines on how long to cook according to the weight of the turkey are spot on. And the skin is always beautifully browned.

I only tried one time to roast a turkey in the oven without the bag and it didn't come out well, plus there was hardly any drippings. I think they evaporated?

Went back to using the bags and haven't looked back. It's the easiest way I know of and the results are almost guaranteed.

As far as doing it the day before, I see no reason not to. The weekend before, even. I cook a large brisket for Passover every year and always cook it in advance. I refrigerate (or freeze) it and then just throw it into the oven on low for a bit before dinner. I know it's a brisket, not a turkey, but I see no reason this wouldn't work. I do it with leftover turkey all the time as well.

Regarding the shredded brussels sprouts, my advice is to keep everything as simple as possible, especially the more sides you have. Believe me, no one is going to say, Ugh, she didn't shred the sprouts! Go the easy route on all these recipes because it's already complicated due to the number of dishes you're serving.

Good luck!!

thunderroad

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #57 on: November 04, 2013, 04:48:11 PM »
Following cicero's advice, I went looking for "countdown to..." links. And found a recipe for "Deconstructed Turkey"--basically, buying turkey parts and roasting them in their own pans. (typed this while AvidReader was typing, apparently!)

That's sort of interesting--it would mean you could have more turkey legs, and you could cook the breast differently from the thighs, etc.

My problem last year was I didn't get the oven hot enough. I was following some weird recipe. (the "too many sources of advice" problem)

Alice, I forget sometimes about lists--or about starting them this early. Thanks for that reminder.

Not sure I can used canned gravy, since it needs to be gluten free--that exists, but I'm not sure I can find it easily. (I'm willing to have some things be stuff I can't eat, but not gravy.)

I like AvidReader's tip about gravy; I've found a few make-ahead gravy recipes and thought about doing that.

And the crockpot sounds good for moist stuffing!

Because we love love love the stuffing cooked inside the bird ["that's why they call it stuffing!" is our battle cry], I don't deconstruct the bird, but I do cut the thighs and legs away from the body, leaving them attached at the hip joint but kind of splayed out.   It allows more heat to get into the thigh area, so the thigh cooks faster, and helps eliminate the problem of drying out the breast if you cook the bird long enough to make sure that the thigh is done.

I use an instant-read thermometer, and check the temp at various locations--thigh, breast, etc.  I won't cook over 165, because of the retained heat. 

One year we needed to make a quick trip to a relative's before the turkey was done--we were having just a very informal dinner at home--and I pulled the bird out of the over at about 145, wrapped it tightly in aluminum foil, and left it out thinking it would need more cooking when we returned.  Well, I managed to wrap it tightly enough that the retained heat cooked the entire turkey sufficiently without drying it out, and it was absolutely the best turkey I have ever made.  I have not really been able to replicate that, however.

Oh, and I don't brine--I rub under the skin with a salt, pepper, and herb mixture, and loads lots of butter under the skin, too, before roasting.  Makes a lovely moist bird. 

TootsNYC

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #58 on: November 04, 2013, 05:07:14 PM »
I've done a turkey breast with the butter under the skin--maybe I'll try that. Because I don't know how on earth I'd keep a brining turkey cold in my apartment.

PastryGoddess

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Re: How sensible is it to practice for Thanksgiving?
« Reply #59 on: November 04, 2013, 06:29:02 PM »
I've done a turkey breast with the butter under the skin--maybe I'll try that. Because I don't know how on earth I'd keep a brining turkey cold in my apartment.

Remember "More butter is more better" :D