Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fun Playing With Thanksgiving Food

As the Thanksgiving Weekend draws to a close - a few thoughts. As usual - Bob and I were guests rather than chefs on Turkey Day proper. All of my family is east and south, and for years, we celebrated Thanksgiving with Bob's family. Sadly, since his mom decided to "retire" (as in - not go anyplace - she's going to be 95 years old shortly, and gosh dang, if she doesn't want to go anyplace, I say, "you [don't] go girl!"), his other family members have scattered more and more each year. The last three years, we've  been fortunate to share Thanksgiving dinner with wonderful friends (the photos from this year's feast are here). 

Still, we always roast our own turkey on Black (or in our house, Gobble) Friday. We started this tradition as we became immersed in the local and sustainable food movements, and because we missed having our own leftovers for sandwiches and the like. This year's guest bird came again through the tender auspices of Breychak's Farm. Every year, Kathy Breychak says she is done raising turkeys, and so far, every year she's relented. I hope we get to enjoy another of her pasture-raised birds next year!

Our 14 pound bird prepares for the Symon treatment - a generous Kosher salt rub a day before cooking.

Twenty-four hours later - a double layer of cheesecloth is soaked in warm oil and aromatics, then draped over the bird. Sorry Michael - we love the flavor of our locally raised turkey so - we prefer a neutrally flavored oil to your recommended butter only for that reason.

Michael's "high temp" method is pretty similar to how we've always roasted - and we were rewarded with crispy skin and succulent, moist meat.

Organic cranberries, organic Florida cane sugar, filtered water. Looks, feels and tastes a lot like the canned product - only better! I actually make this more to grace turkey sandwiches than the turkey dinners - but this year, it got a little late on Friday, and Bob decided for forgo the gravy until Saturday. Good thing we had cranberry sauce - and yes Mom, we remembered to put it on the table. (In my house, the term "Cranberry Sauce" means that something that was supposed to be on the table is still in the fridge.)

I improvised this vegetable side dish from a couple of on-line recipes - roasted cubes of local winter squash, local onion, our last Richter's Orchard (LI) apple, Pumpkin Pie Spice/Pepito butter (Ohio City Pasta), toasted pecans and garden parsley.

Here's the stock Bob made several days ago from extra turkey necks and giblets Kathy Breychak bestowed on us. Thick with gelatin - perfect for gravy-making.

Turkey with Crisp Skin - 20 or so minutes out of the oven

Garden Purple Viking Mashed Potatoes with Garden Parsley

Turkey Slice with Gravy - Saturday night

Garden Purple Viking Mashed Potatoes with Gravy - Saturday night

Our first leftovers meal:

Bob's Potato Bread

Breychak Turkey Breast, Trader Joe's Organic Mayo, Cranberry Sauce, Skin Crackling, Purple Viking Potato Bread = yum. Another Thanksgiving in the books - we had great fun playing with food and fabulous company at Linda and Fred's place, and lots more fun playing with our own food the rest of the weekend! And I've got about 8 lunches worth of turkey breast sandwich makings already resting in the freezer, for me to play with later! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours - hope you had fun playing with your food this weekend!

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