Now there's no way that I could hold your attention long enough to give you the details on the recipe for every dish, so I'm just going to stick with the basics.
Obviously the star of the show is the turkey. We were able to get a fresh one (a.k.a not frozen) this year and it was a doozie weighing in at a Butterbean-like 23 lbs. It was the perfect weight for a few front squats to loosen up the legs and burn a few of the thousands of calories I would be consuming from that moment forward.
Word to the wise - a "fresh one" means that the body of the bird is not frozen, however, it is apparently customary (which I did not realize until Thursday morning around 10am) to freeze the giblets inside of the bird. This set me back a few minutes, but it was nothing that a little lukewarm water from the sink sprayer couldn't handle - I figured a little water couldn't hurt since the bird had already been washed at some point anyways.
The secret that I've used to give my turkey a nice rich flavor and help keep it moist is to rub it down with an herb-mayonaise. I just add some typical fresh Thanksgiving herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme), garlic powder, and S&P to some mayonnaise and mix it all together. Then, in an almost sacred ritual, I rub the mayo all over the outside and inside of the bird, reaching every possible crevice I can find. During cooking, the mayonnaise will all melt away and leave you with a rich brown color on the outside of the bird.
Filling the cavity of the turkey was a challah bread stuffing that was a pretty simple combination of homemade challah croutons, some sauteed onions, mushrooms, celery, and garlic, and some roasted carrots and onions (I would have stopped with just the sauteed veggies, but I didn't have a good enough veggie-to-crouton ratio so I had to ad-lib). I then took the stuffing that couldn't fit in the bird and threw it in a baking dish with some chicken stock and some bacon for a dressing (I'm still not sure why they call stuffing, cooked outside of the bird, dressing??).
|Giant plate of turkey...nom nom nom|
|Challah bread stuffing - the family favorite|
|Everyone needs a drunk cousin|
Another staple at my Thanksgiving table is green bean casserole and since I felt guilty for leaving heavy cream out of the broccoli, I made sure to add plenty to this dish. It's essentially sauteed mushrooms and onions, combined with heavy cream (basically a simple homemade version of cream of mushroom soup) and then dumped over the blanched green beans. I topped it all off with some cornbread croutons that my dad had made for me the day before, and painted the croutons with clarified butter before tossing the whole thing in the oven. My green beans ended up under-seasoned, so make sure you season the dish thoroughly throughout the cooking process...and TASTE EVERYTHING while you're making it!
|Cornbread Crusted Green Bean Casserole|
|Not From A Can Cran Sauce|
|Pumpkin Gravy...yes please.|
Overall, the meal was a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, with a few colors outside of the lines to give it just enough of a personal touch. It was mix of old traditions and a few new flavors. In the end, everyone seemed to enjoy eating as much as I enjoyed cooking, so that goes down as a success in my book.