Greetings, one and all! Just a quick note to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyeux Noel, Buon Natale, Happy Hanukkah – or whatever you celebrate! Let me share with you what’s been going on in my kitchen this week in preparation for our annual Christmas Dinner Feast…
Here she is! A perfect Christmas Turkey! And, as a tribute to family
feast day cooks of generations past, especially my mom who was with us
for dinner, we stuffed it and cooked it an extra hour, tented with foil,
until the stuffing registered 170 F on a meat thermometer.
Well… I started actual prep three days ago, doing the shopping for the meal, which I planned out about a week ago. Oh, yes… I bought my Turkey back at Thanksgiving, when they were on sale, and just kept it in the freezer until four days ago, when I moved it to the bottom shelf of the fridge to gently thaw.
Yesterday, I baked a Pumpkin Pie for dessert and a Vegetable Quiche (mixed Sweet Peppers, Onion, Celery, Scallions, Sliced Mushrooms and a cup of Grated Old Cheddar Cheese plus a level teaspoon each of Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Ground Nutmeg and Salt. Use four Eggs, well beaten plus half a cup each of Heavy Cream and 2% Milk for the custard base, for one 9 in. quiche). The Quiche is for any Vegetarians who show up. (But It’s not Vegan. Skip the Cheese and use about the same amount of Firm Tofu, cubed about 1/4 in., if you’re entertaining Vegans. You can cube the Tofu ahead of time and marinate in a few tbsps. of Light Soy Sauce plus a dash of Sesame Oil.)
This morning, my erstwhile business partner, housemate and fabulous baker, Erin, whipped up a batch of silky, buttery Soft Dinner Rolls (recipe to come in the near future), and we got the bird ready for the oven.
That meant removing the neck and giblets from the cavity, draining the loose juice inside and Salting and Peppering the insides liberally and stuffing some fresh Rosemary, Parsley and Thyme fronds under the breast skin. If you have a non-pre-basted bird, also shove some nice nubs of butter up under the breast skin – about a quarter pound in all. We put our 18 kg Turkey in a 325 F oven about 11:00 this morning with a ‘done’ target of 4 p.m., leaving an hour after that for the bird to rest and carry-on cook under a tight foil tent before carving. After about 3 1/2 hours, we tented the bird with foil to ensure it didn’t get too brown during the remainder of its cooking time.
There are many variations on ‘The Perfect Turkey’, and I’ve already collected the best of them in a post last year.
During the morning, we also baked off a small Acorn Squash, spooned out the flesh, and added a tsp. each of ground Thyme, Rosemary and Nutmeg. In a separate bowl, we added a tbsp. of Brown Sugar to a cup of fine bread crumbs along with a quarter cup of melted butter and the same amount of good Olive Oil and sprinkled that over the small casserole into we pressed the mashed Squash flesh mixture. That also goes in the oven for the last hour before we serve dinner.
We’ll steam off some fresh Asparagus and whip up some of Mom’s Mashed Potatoes during the hour the bird is resting. Of course, we’ll sauté the Giblets in some Butter, Oil, Salt and Pepper, and add them to the gravy, which we’ll make from the juices that come off the Turkey during cooking. Once its all thickened up we’ll buzz it with a stick blender to incorporate the Giblets smoothly into the sauce.
Oh, yeah… And we’ll toss half a cup (250 ml) of Heavy Cream, a tsp. of Vanilla Extract and 2 tsp. of Sugar into the stand mixer, whipping for 5-7 minutes with the wire whisk attachment just prior to cutting the Pie!
Whoa! It’s already 3:15 p.m. our time! I’ve gotta get back to the kitchen… Send you a pic of our Feast Table Turkey a little later, when I post this…
~ Maggie J.