Thanksgiving (late)

I’m trying to play catch up a bit… I’m currently in Paris, where it is 1 a.m. Ben is joining me for the weekend tomorrow, and I’ve taken loads of photos, as one does, but I also have a pre-trip backlog. Namely Thanksgiving, which I did almost literally on the fly between trips. I had never roasted a turkey. The one time I roasted a chicken it was a disaster. But off we went!

I went to London the Saturday night before Thanksgiving, worked Monday-Wednesday, then flew back Wednesday afternoon. I got in around 7, we picked my brother Tom up from the airport, and headed home. Ben’s mom and brother joined us for a pasta dinner shortly after we got back (Ben, bless him, cooked), and I trotted off to bed soon after that.

Ben had done the shopping, using lists I’d pulled together on the fly from London. Naturally I’d forgotten lots of things since I wasn’t actually looking at recipes or, you know, spending more than 3 minutes thinking through what I needed to make Thanksgiving dinner. I did not discover any of the missing items until Thursday morning, when it was too late to do much about them (more on that in a moment).

Wednesday night after I went to bed, Ben and his mom made chocolate cream pie. In the morning, Ben made pumpkin pie, and we encountered some first-time-use glitches with the oven, so it took about two hours to get it cooked. Just as I started panicking, though, the oven fixed itself and behaved nicely while I baked the turkey. Meanwhile I realized I was missing shallots (for the beans), parsley (for the stuffing, oh well), celery (also for the stuffing), carrots (for stock and around the turkey), and, for the stuffing, of course….Bread. I meant to get a bag of those croutons that are already all dried out, because this was The Thanksgiving For Shortcuts.


What can you do at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving? No grocery stores were open. Eventually Tom went to 7-11 and purchased two snack containers of baby carrots and celery, and a loaf of Pepperidge Farm white bread. He cut that up into small pieces and I toasted it as hard as I could without browning it. Meanwhile I prepped the lovely turkey, a little 13-pounder, that we’d gotten from Trader Joe’s. He was pre-brined, so I just had to remove the giblets, etc., give him a nice butter/salt/pepper massage, and slide him into the oven (breast down to start, per Bittman).

I started a stock that never came to anything, and over the course of the morning/afternoon I made the stuffing (dressing, I guess, since I cook it out of the bird), cranberry sauce, and Ben and Tom made a hectare of mashed potatoes. Tom blanched beans, which he later dressed with lemon and olive oil, since we didn’t have shallots. I nearly forgot to make the cauliflower soup that I wanted to start with, but I did that right before we ate. The brined turkey gave of lots of nice drippings and Bittman has you put veggies and broth in the pan, so there was plenty of juice. I used his method, which involves boiling down the drippings and adding cornstarch (dissolved in water) to thicken if needed. This had the benefit of being simpler than a roux, with fewer lumps, and also being gluten-free, so Christy could eat it. She said she hadn’t had gravy in years!

The feast:

First of all, Mr. Turkey. He was fantastic!! Combined with the brine, Bittman’s Start Breast Down and Flip method worked great (he says this maxes out around 10 pounds, but the guys managed to flip our 13-pounder, though I was not around when they did it so who knows…) and the white meat was very juicy. Hurray!

Before the turkey, though, we had soup:

Then the good stuff:

Followed (many hours later) by pies, courtesy of Ben!

It was the last meal at our patched together little table/kitchen table combo:

Because the next day our long back-ordered table came in, and the guys brought it home!

5 thoughts on “Thanksgiving (late)”

  1. What’s your opinion on turkey bags? My man Luke was just up for a visit, and he cooked a ham inside one with a kind of “hot toddy” marinate, and it bordered illegal how juicy and flavorful it got.

  2. Josh- Turkey bags for brining or for cooking? I think for cooking the sacrifice of the browned skin would be too much to bear. But lately I was reading somewhere (sadly can’t remember where) a chef’s admission that he cooks two turkeys: One conventionally for the Ooh Aah Presentation, and one sous vide (vacuum sealed and cooked in water) for the actual eating! With a ham I think it’s easier to get away with not having the crispy skin…

    Emily- I have to admit, after six months of searching antique stores and flea markets we gave in and went Pottery Barn. It’s the Montego round table in espresso. We needed a small circle when it was unexpanded, but one that could stretch to seat six/squeeze eight as an oval. We’re really happy with it (though I was home for exactly one day after it arrived and haven’t yet been back). The base is nice and simple, unlike most pedestals we looked at.

    Thanks, Heather!

  3. Beautiful!
    That plate of turkey and fixins looked like the perfect Thanksgiving food! And what a beautifully roasted turkey!
    Another lovley meal, Kate!

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