Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

It's done and over, Thanksgiving 2015 is now nothing but another wonderful memory. This is one of my favorite holidays and so I've been looking forward to it for weeks. This year certainly did not disappoint. In fact, the entire weekend was simply wonderful. Thursday morning consisted of Lara and I in the kitchen, steaming up the windows as we roasted up the turkey for the family and put together a handful of other dishes to bring to my grandparent's place for the midday meal. We tried out a new turkey recipe this year which turned out awesome and received rave review from the family. Since we roasted the turkey at my place, it was quite the adventure getting it over to my grandparent's condo in time for dinner. But we made it, turkey, turkey gravy and all, without any misadventures!

Other menu items included my favorite soft dinner rolls which have pretty much become tradition for winter holiday parties now. They are always met with great celebration. In order to accommodate a few food sensitivities I made them dairy free by just using water in place of the milk and choosing the vegetable oil instead of the butter for the fat. They turned out great, there were none left over by the end of the day. 

We also whipped together a pan of stuffing that was full of my favorite fall vegetables, caramelized onions, butternut squash and kale, all mixed together with cubes of my absolute favorite sourdough bread from the best local bakery. A fantastic combination in my book. (Adapted from this recipe, we just couldn't resist adding some butternut squash)

Finally, we brought a big bowl of a delicious Brussel sprout and brown rice salad with dried cherries, blue cheese, cinnamon almonds and cocoa nibs. This was a new recipe that I wanted to try and I ended up really loving it a lot, especially the blue cheese!! (Adapted from this recipe)

There were a lot of other delicious salads on the menu from various family members, a really yummy caramel apple sangria, and my mom's famous mashed potatoes with butter AND cream. A meal to remember for sure. 

For dessert Lara made a beautiful apple cake that was stuffed full of fresh apples (based on this recipe). I find cake easier than pie, and I love it more anyway, win-win!

 A few of the many farmer's market purchases 

 My nephew Tyce was able to help my mom pick up the turkey 
from the farmer's market on Wednesday, fun times with grandma

 Going for a little drive!

 Turkey carving time; now that's what I call a leg
 Turkey for all, with some stuffing on the side

The whole gang, this is what I give thanks for the most, my wonderful family

 Leftover sandwiches at night, perhaps my favorite part
of the whole day

And a few pictures from the rest of the weekend: 

 Dad loves to "help" with Christmas decorations

 Topping the tree is always exciting


Went to the beach on Saturday, it was an absolutely 
gorgeous day to walk along the water 


 Heading to the end of the pier

 Contemplating either life or the mansion on the hill

The three girls

Glazed and Lacquered Turkey
Adapted from Bon Appetit
  • 1 15-20-pound turkey, neck and giblets removed, patted dry
  • 6 dried bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon allspice berries
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried sage
  • ½ cup (packed) brown sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
Remove wishbone from turkey by lifting neck skin to expose meat and cutting along both sides of bone with a small paring knife to separate flesh from bone. Pull firmly on both sides to snap out (if bone does not come out in one piece, grip remaining fragments with a paper towel and pull out). This will make carving the breast much easier later.

Grind bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice in a spice mill until very fine; toss with salt, sage, and ¼ cup brown sugar in a medium bowl. Generously sprinkle dry brine inside cavity and rub all over skin, packing on until you’ve used entire mixture. Chill turkey on a large rimmed baking sheet uncovered 8–12 hours. 

Thoroughly rinse turkey to remove brine; pat dry. Let sit on baking sheet 3 hours to bring to room temperature. 

Meanwhile, bring vinegar, soy sauce, and remaining ¼ cup brown sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened to the consistency of molasses (it needs to be very thick to adhere to the turkey; if glaze is too thin, keep simmering), 5–8 minutes. Let glaze cool.

Preheat oven to 325°. Starting at neck end of turkey, gently slide your fingers between skin and breast to loosen skin. Drizzle olive oil underneath skin, spacing evenly over breasts. Coat a piece of foil large enough to cover turkey breast with nonstick spray. Cover breast with foil, coated side down, avoiding thighs and tucking end inside cavity (foil will protect skin from tearing during first stage of cooking). Place turkey, breast side down, on a V-shape roasting rack set inside a large roasting pan. Roast until back side of turkey is golden brown, 50–60 minutes.

Remove turkey from oven and transfer to a clean rimmed baking sheet with oven mitts or 2 pairs of tongs. Turn bird breast side up and transfer back to rack in roasting pan; discard foil. Pour any juices collected on baking sheet into pan. Roast turkey until breast is golden brown and skin is crisp, 35–45 minutes. 

Remove turkey from oven and brush all over with glaze. Continue to roast, checking temperature every 5 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast near neck registers 150° and no more (temperature will rise as the bird rests), 15–25 minutes. (I honestly pulled mine at 145° after listening to the Bon Appetit podcast when they talked about this recipe, if you choose to do this, which I recommend, do so at your own risk!) Transfer turkey to a platter and let rest 1 hour. 

Increase oven to 450°. Brush another even layer of glaze over turkey. Roast, watching closely in case glaze starts to burn, until turkey is deep golden brown and skin is shiny and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean platter and let rest 30 minutes before carving.

Do Ahead: Turkey can be brined 2 days ahead. Brine on Tuesday, then rinse on Wednesday and chill overnight so you are ready to roast on Thursday.

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