Even though we don’t have a big-deal Thanksgiving, I still make a fairly traditional meal. Turkey, potatoes, and dressing are a must. Skip the cranberries because none of us like them. And then I usually do some sort of vegetable or salad and a pie. It’s always good, and never any more work than any other dinner.
I’ve been dry-brining my turkey for years, and I’m absolutely convinced it’s the easiest and best way to prepare the bird. I buy a Kosher turkey, and do a straight salt and pepper rub the morning before Thanksgiving. It goes into the refrigerator uncovered until about an hour before it’s ready to go in the oven.
Every year I keep wondering why I don’t butterfly the turkey. It’s the only way I’ll roast a chicken, so it makes sense. This year, I finally did it. And I used some herbs in addition to the salt. It cooked so quickly and evenly, and was absolutely delicious. I’m never roasting a fully intact bird again.
Another advantage to butterflying is that the backbone can be used along with the neck to make turkey stock, something I normally don’t bother with. I did this year – stock in the pressure cooker only takes a half hour, and it makes a big difference in how the gravy turns out.
Larry asked for sweet potato biscuits after seeing them on The National Baking Society blog, and it turns out that they’re really easy to make too. And dang, so good, especially with maple butter. And probably good with leftover turkey in the middle, but we ate them all up.
The one part of dinner I haven’t every settled on is the dressing. I’m a traditionalist. I want a simple bread dressing, nothing fancy, and no meat. The best part is the top. The part under the top is always a little too mushy for my taste, but that’s all fixed now with stuffing balls. They’re the perfect ratio of crispy stuffing bits to softer bits. Plus I got to make a lot of jokes about “the balls”. These are on my menu from now on.
We had wine with dinner, but I made pre-dinner cocktails. Larry chose The Corsican, a potent mixture of rum, bourbon, vermouth and falernum. It’s delicious – he made a great choice.
I gave up on pumpkin pie for this year and just went with apple. It turns out both Larry and Brian like apple pie better than pumpkin, so everyone was happy.
- The Corisican (Tasting Table)
- Butterflied, Dry Brined Roasted Turkey (Alton Brown)
- Sweet Sweet Potato Biscuits (The National Historical Baking Society)
- Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing Balls (Jun-Blog)
- Glazed Carrots & Shallots (Fine Cooking #32, April 1999, p. 40)
- 30-Minute Turkey Broth (Pressure Cooking with Lorna Sass)
- Silky Pan Gravy with Cream, Cognac & Thyme (Fine Cooking #74, October 2005, p. 42)
- Whipped Parsnips (Michael’s Genuine Food, p. 136)
- Apple Pie Covered with Leaves (Fine Cooking #54, Winter 2003 Holiday Baking Issue, p. 43)