My Granny, on my mom’s side of the fam, used to tell a certain story before big holiday meals. Imagine her frown and clenched teeth, please.
It seems Granny and most of the family would work and work and bake and roast and fry and bake some more to spread the table with some really great food for big gatherings.
Except for one particular Aunt. Aunt Madge, I believe, but don’t hold me to it.
It seems she showed up for such events with the same contribution every time.
A pound of butter and a jar of olives.
I’ve got the butter managed. We’ll skip the olives until Christmas!
I’ll also admit that this blog post is feeling a bit like one of those big pot luck events as it hatches in my head.
I spent much of today taking photos and writing descriptions of the kind of art pieces around here that are looking for forever homes.
That, with frequent breaks to count the quarts of bone broth in the freezer – we’ve got to have gravy!
And keeping up with the world.
You can check my Facebook page for a whole bunch of the stuff I related to. Here’s a hint about a favorite, with thanks to my buddy, Lori Knight-Whitehouse…
A reprint of an article the amazing Anne Lamott wrote years ago about Thanksgiving. She was discussing the issue of table grace in her family and lamenting the fact that they were inclined in the direction of Cheers. Bottoms up. Dig in! while wee Annie longed for words she heard around the tables of friends.
And that reminded me of Dave when he was just getting the hang of pronouncing what he heard… you see, he and I did the traditional God is great… thing before meals. This was what my dear, kind boy heard. And repeated with care:
God is great. God is good. And we thank God for our food. Bite God’s hands and all be fed.
Give us, Lord, our gravy bread.
I must add that my little guy was enormously proud of his participation.
And, much to everyone’s dismay, I didn’t correct him. In fact, I cried the first time he managed it in the more usual fashion. I’m still pretty sure the Divine was delighted all along.
Which, in a stream of consciousness sort of fashion, brings us to Iron Chef America. The gang has been keeping me company as I work.
In one of my all time favorite episodes, Iron Chef Guarnaschelli is matched with a challenger who describes himself as a Norwegian Japanese Black guy. The secret ingredient was lamb. The whole critter! As it turned out, Chef Justin Sutherland took the winner’s bow, wearing a hat that read, In Diversity We Trust.
I’m thankful for that!
Now, for the promised main event…
Since I’ve already confessed to the heresy of not doing turkey the way we’ve always done it, it’s time to move on from Wednesday’s brining directions … there’s still time… to the part that smells so good. Actual roasting!
Of course, you’ll need your bird thawed, even if you skipped the dry brining process. (Note: It can take up to 3 days to thaw an 18-20 pound turkey in the fridge!) For Gorgeous Juicy Turkey, you’ll want to plan on roughly 2 hours for roasting and 1/2 hour for resting. See * below for additional info on timing according to turkey size!
A small amount of math is inevitable.
Remove your lovely bird from the fridge about 4 hours before you’re planning to serve your fabulous dinner. Allow it to sit out and come to cool room temp…about an hour. Put it somewhere the dogs really can’t reach it!
Preheat oven to 525 degrees F.
Pour out any juices from the inside of the turkey and the bottom of the pan and discard. Pat the bird gently dry, inside and out, trying not to disturb any remaining brine mixture on the skin.
If you brined, no additional salt or pepper is needed!
(If you didn’t brine ahead of time, remove any innards, etc. now and generously season the inside of the turkey with good sea salt and freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns. )
Your marvelous dressing goes into a pan to bake. Trust me. (Sorry Granny!)
Fill the cavity with aromatics. Try a mix of your favorites… any combination of these will add to the cooking juices, keeping the turkey moist and making tasty gravy. (This part will take about 1/2 hour of our 4 hour timeline.)
- Quartered onion, skin on.
- A whole garlic bulb, cut in half.
- A quartered, cored, firm organic apple.
- 3-4 bay leaves, preferably fresh, crushed briefly to release oils.
- A handful of fresh thyme sprigs.
- A fresh lemon, cut in half.
- Rosemary and sage are good too, but may overtake other flavors. Tread lightly!
- Any stems from fresh parsley you may have around.
After the cavity is filled, tie the wings and legs, pulling them close to the body with kitchen string so your bird will roast more evenly.
Then, scrub and roughly chop about:
- 6 small carrots.
- 3 – 4 peeled onions.
- 6 ribs of organic celery, including some leaves if desired.
Place chopped veg in your roasting pan, forming a “rack” for the turkey. Place trussed bird, breast side up, on the veg.
Put in 525 degree oven for 11 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to roast.
(Any yummy veggies you’re roasting for dinner will do well at the same 400 F.)
Baste turkey every 20 minutes or so with good olive oil (or melted, unsalted butter), using a small brush.
* Alice Waters says to figure about 12 minutes per pound for a 15-pound, unstuffed turkey and fewer minutes/pound for larger birds. If you’re roasting our mythical 18-20 pound bird, start checking temp about 1 hour 45 min. after you reduced the oven to 400 F. by inserting an instant read thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, making sure tip does not touch the bone. Check the plump part of the inner thigh the same way. As amazing as this sounds, my 18-pound birds are brown, sexy, and beautifully done 2 hours after I turn the oven down to 400 degrees! Cook to 160 degrees F. on your thermometer.
If you jiggle the ends of the legs, they will move freely and whatever juice comes out when you take out the thermometer will be clear. Remove your gorgeous bird to a deep platter or cutting board with grooves for the juice and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you like crispy skin, leave it uncovered!
Remove the string. Carve your masterpiece as desired, adding the juices to your gravy.
Enjoy, with thanks in your own fashion. I’m thankful for you!
ps… save the non-gnawed bones for broth! Dogs don’t get cooked bones!!!
pps…so hoping you’ll resist doing all your Black Friday shopping before Wednesday’s blog! All that work on photos of art I mentioned??? BIG changes coming to Fierce Art With Heart! Details here in 3 days. If you just can’t resist, there are lots of new listings up, and holiday prices, now. I just haven’t finished all the “decorating”! Hint – everything that isn’t an original painting or a giclee print is in the collection called, “Small Things.” The elves appreciate your patience!!!