Thanksgiving for Two


The measure of my success on Thanksgiving Day is how many times I have to call my mom (if she’s not physically with me). This year was one of the maybe two or three times I’ve cooked Thanksgiving away from home and away from that maternal safety net, where fears of undercooked birds and dried-out dressings are calmed.

This year, I only called her three or four times. Which is a success! That is between my first-ever attempt at making Parker House Rolls (recipe to come), gravy issues and an organic turkey that came out of its 8-hour brine a strange purple-blueish color:

Have you ever noticed color differences with organic turkeys?

I switched from Whole Foods to Costco this year and probably saved $5-$10 on an 11-pound organic bird. My Costco didn’t let me down! Mom helped me figure out that the strange not-yellow/white/pink bird was probably closer to what a real turkey should look like before it’s pumped full of hormones and processed. I would highly recommend Costco as I’ll be getting my birds there indefinitely!

I took a chance on a new turkey recipe this year, since it was just Grant and me and we didn’t have kids/other people to impress. Bon Appetit had an article about neo-traditionalist turkeys, basted with a soy/mirin butter sauce. The cover photo was so beautiful that I just had to try it and thank goodness I did – this may be my go-to turkey recipe from now on.

The turkey comes out such a deep golden amber – almost mahogany – and the well-seasoned meat and drippings make for some excellent gravy!

A few turkey rules that I always follow, before we get to the recipe:

  1. Smaller is better – once you get above 16 lbs they are impossible to cook evenly (according to many reputable sources, including my taste buds).
  2. Brine – I just did 2 c. salt dissolved into 2 gallons of water – brined for 8 hours (Cook’s Illustrated warns not to do it more than 4 hours due to over-salting).
  3. Dry overnight – Once out of the brine, I pat the turkey dry, put it in its roasting pan and into the fridge overnight – this dries out the skin so it roasts nice and crispy.

Adapted from Bon Appetit…I probably should have made and blogged about this weeks ago, like all the professional bloggers. But I am a humble at-home cook with no time or patience for doing Thanksgiving early or – gulp – twice!

The Neo-Traditionalist Roast Turkey

Ingredients:

  • 1 10-14-pound turkey, giblets and neck removed, brined and fridge-dried overnight, then left at room temp for 1 hour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (I used regular – oops!)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 3 sprigs rosemary

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Set a rack inside a large roasting pan. Pour 4 cups water into pan (note: I used chicken broth!). Tuck tips of wings under bird. If turkey is not brined, rub bird inside and out with 3 T kosher salt. Season inside and out with pepper and place on rack in pan. Place onion and celery in cavity. Rub 3 tablespoons butter over turkey. Roast turkey, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, stir remaining 3 tablespoons butter, soy sauce, and mirin  in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth. Add rosemary. Cover; keep glaze warm over lowest heat (not simmering).
  • Reduce oven to 325°. Baste turkey with pan juices; add more water or stock if needed to maintain at least 1/4-inch liquid in pan (I probably used 6 c. of stock total). Roast for 30 minutes; baste with pan juices. Brush lightly with glaze.
  • Continue roasting turkey, basting with pan juices and brushing with glaze every 30 minutes, and tenting with foil if turning too dark, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh without touching bone registers 165° (juices should run clear when thermometer is removed), about 2 3/4 hours total. (Note: I couldn’t get mine above 155 degrees, after 3 1/2 hours, so I took it out and it was fine. The juices were running clear).

Let stand at room temperature under foil tent at least 30 min, or until ready to carve.

Meanwhile, I heated up/finished all my sides, made a quick gravy and dressed up the turkey for its head shot. I usually just throw whatever herbs I have left over onto the plate. But if I were home, I would have been fancy with some berries or something.

Proof that my eyes are bigger than my stomach…I ate half of this:

Hope you all had safe and successful Turkey Days – I probably have two more days’ worth of leftovers to go – not bad.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

2 responses to “Thanksgiving for Two

  1. Totally gorgeous! We had a smaller (15 lb.) turkey this year at my folks’ house and it did taste better.

  2. looks amazing! John won a turkey at the Fleet Feet 5K so I think I’m going to try this recipe at Christmas when I attempt to cook it! Glad you two had a wonderful holiday! xo

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