Most people are already thinking how many houses they have to visit to get a plate fixed for them. Some are even on quick diets to ease their conscience of the glutinous onslaught they will unleash on their bellies. Boxes will be pulled from attics and storage to dust off all house and dinner table decorations.
Most of all though, it will be family time with a little football thrown in the mix. Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, honey glazed ham, stuffing (dressing) mac & cheese, sweet potato pie, jerk chicken, curried goat, leg of lamb, the list can on forever. Whatever you are thinking about doing, here are some of my tips and suggestions to help you out for thanksgiving this year.
Tip 1: Have a plan, know what you want to make, write a menu then shop for it.
Tip 2: Think about how you will manage your time; make some things ahead, don’t leave everything for Thanksgiving Day.
Tip 3: Try a new dish or technique new this year: Brined the turkey? Deep fried turkey? Jerk turkey? Turkey on the grill? Smoked turkey? All delicious indeed, if done right that is. Not feeling for turkey this year? How about some roast beef? A long neck goose? Cranberry apple gravy? Sweet potato bisque with crawfish? Be adventurous this year.
Tip 4: Keep it clean…SANITATION, SANITATION, SANITATION!!! Keep that turkey prep area to a minimum. Wipe all surrounding areas down when done. Have a spray bottle with 50 percent water and vinegar on hand to ease the unsure mind. When in doubt though, clean it again.
Tip 5: Don’t forget to season under the skin and the cavity of the bird. A nice herbed butter would be great here. Just add softened butter at room temperature into a mixing bowl then add some combination of dried herbs – thyme, oregano, tarragon, basil. You can even add a little truffle oil or duck fat to the butter. Mix until herbs are blended into the butter then set aside.
Tip 6: Pat that bird dry. Add some of the herbed butter mix under the skin of the bird and all over the skin then add dry spice seasoning over the same areas. Bird ready? Place him breast down in the roasting pan atop a wire rack. Guess where those juices are heading? Flip the bird the last 30-45 minutes. I roast my turkey just like everything else I roast. I start on high, say 425 or 450 degrees for about 20 minutes or so, then reduce the temperature to about 325 degrees. Twenty minutes per pound they say to be done.
Note: You may have a new house or have recently upgraded your oven with a nice cool combination convection/convention oven. Convection oven times are faster than regular oven settings because the air circulates with more efficiency in the entire oven, even more so when using the trivection setting on some of the newer upscale models. Reduce the temperature by about 15 degrees or so if using a convection oven and about 15 minutes from your cooking time. If you have brined your turkey, expect this bird to cook faster as well in any oven. Don’t trust yourself? Have that thermometer on hand. You won’t go wrong with a 165 degree reading. It’s no problem taking that bird out when the temperature reaches 155 to 160 degrees. The temperature of the bird will continue to go up even after being removed from the oven. It’s called carry over cooking. Let the bird sit out (resting) if dinner will be in the next 30-45 minutes. Just wrap it in foil paper. When you cut into the flesh it will still be hot.
Tip 7: Do you really need to have a 26-pound bird on your table? How about two smaller birds? Just you and the kids or just you and the newlywed partner? Instead of the whole bird just get the turkey breast, you will be done in no time.
Tip 8: Remember, if you are preparing stuffing, make it separately. Stuff the bird with aromatics – orange peels, onions, carrots and fresh herbs – thyme, rosemary, sage, and lemongrass – all depending on the cuisine profile you are going with.
Tip 9: Those giblets, roast then with some vegetables to give a deeper richness to the stock for the gravy. Add some wine or brandy to get some depth to your gravy. My rule of thumb for adding any spirits: if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with that spirit.
Tip 10: Are you still stressed? Remember, don’t think of doing all this work by yourself. Recruit those lazy bone relatives and high school freeloaders. There’s no free lunch anymore.
If you remember nothing else remember one thing, it’s only food but you must treat it with love and cook from the heart. Have a glass of vino while you cook. I’ll be having some rum I say. This is Thanksgiving, give thanks and stay blessed. Did I tell you the leftovers are going to be amazing on Dark and Stormy Friday? As always, keep it Food on Fiyah!!!
Herbed roasted turkey
6 -8 servings
1 15 pound Young turkey
Salt & pepper to season
1 stick Butter softened
1 tablespoon Dried parsley,
1 tablespoon Dried thyme leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon Dried rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Chopped sage
1 Lemon, zested
1 tablespoon Garlic power
1 teaspoon Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Ground coriander
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Set oven to 425 degrees
Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey in large pan; season cavity and skin.
Add the remaining ingredients into a smaller bowl and mix with a spatula.
Using gloved hand, start smearing butter mix over the bird also under the skin
Place season bird on rack an then into roasting pan breast down and place into heated oven.
After 20 minutes, reduce heat to about 325 degrees. Allow for about 15-20 minutes per pound for cooking time
Last 45 minutes, increase the heat to 350 degrees. Flip the bird over so the skin can brown some more.
Check temperature with thermometer; remove bird from oven when temperature gets to about 155 -158deg. Let bird sit for about 15 minutes if placing on table then. Cover with foil if not ready for another 30-45 minutes for dinner.
Serves 6 – 8
1 16-ounce Fresh cranberries
1 Ripened mango, peeled and diced
2 Cinnamon sticks
4 sprigs Fresh thyme
½ Medium Scotch bonnet pepper
½ cup Bourbon or dark rum
1 ½ cup Cranberry juice
¾ cup Sugar
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
Zest 1 lemon
½ Lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
Add all ingredients in a medium sauce pot. Stir and place on medium heat until starting to boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes or 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon sticks and thyme. Using hand blender, roughly puree but leave slightly chunky. Transfer to bowl and cool then place in refrigerator to chill.