Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Thanksgiving Kickoff

Now that I have the Nov. issue of Bon Appetit, I am declaring the Thanksgiving season officially open. I am so looking forward to all the cooking I will do around this holiday. My mom has officially relinquished turkey making to me after the success of last year's turkeys. I made two turkeys last Thanksgiving. Originally my Mom just bought one, but when my sister and I went to Trader Joe's Thanksgiving eve, we decided to grab another, knowing that along with assorted aunts and uncles, SECOND aunts and uncles and cousin would be coming, making the grand total 35. I did rock the turkey. My cousin Anna gave this compliment - "usually turkey is just another part of the meal, but yours is what the meal is all about."

My method is essentially the same as roasting a chicken. I agree with Ina Garten in her assessment that it is infinitely better to buy two 12 pound turkeys than to try and keep a 20 pound turkey moist. Mine came out perfectly with just enough meat for leftovers. And flying in the face of so many hygiene experts, I stuff my turkeys. I don't care if it isn't enough. I don't care about bacteria. Stuffing is not stuff if you don't pull it out of the cavity. People don't FIGHT over dressing that was baked alongside the turkey. They do fight over stuffing. Having two turkeys meant there were two stuffings. The first was one my mother makes that consists of stuffing mix, garbanzo beans, shitake mushrooms and shallots. Mine is a southwestern style with cornbread, poblano chiles, and corn.

I prep my turkey by making a compound butter with rosemary, black pepper, Maggi seasoning and a touch of honey. I push the compund butter under the turkey skin and spread it around. After the turkey is stuffed and trussed, I stick it in the oven at 375 for 2 1/2 hours. To test for doneness, I shake hands with one of the legs. If the handshake is firm then the turkey is cooked. If it's limp, then the turkey needs more time. I confirm my handshake test by cutting into the space between the thigh and breast to see if the juices run clear. Once I am assured of the doneness, I cover the turkey with foil and let it rest for half an hour. Do not skip this step because this is the key to moist turkey. This is also good for the timing of the meal because it frees up the oven to heat the sides.

I do get someone else to carve the turkey because I am hopeless as that.

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