Friday, November 27, 2009

Free Range Friday

Sorry if you're completely tired of turkey, but that is what is going on here today! So here we go with what I brought to our pot luck Thanksgiving Day dinner beside cornbread stuffing.

First, I brined the turkey

The basic recipe I used was this one from Alton Brown, but I also looked at a lot of other brine recipes, looked at what I had on my shelves and in the garden and added my own creations as well. For instance, I didn't have candied ginger (one of my favorite things to eat) and didn't feel like making my own, though it's not difficult. So I just grated a bit of ginger in there along with some ground ginger. I also added tarragon, racao and lemon balm from the garden, along with some ground sage and smoked paprika.

I read that a self-basting turkey already has a big salt factor so I cut back on the salt I added since I had inadvertently bought a self basting turkey. It came out just on the very edge of being too salty, but not unpleasant at all. Next year, no self basting turkey for me, because I will absolutely brine again.

After the turkey had been in brine about 18 hours, I dried it and made my Dad's dressing for it. Which is one package Pepperidge Farm (sorry, you die hard do it yourselfer's, tradition is tradition), the giblets sauteed in a stick of butter along with chopped shallots and or onions, a head of garlic cloves, minced and salt and pepper to taste. Add a cup or so of broth (boil the neck for your cat or your friend's cat, wa la, you have broth), enough to make it moist but not mushy. Less is more.

NOW it was smelling like Thanksgiving! After washing the potatoes (I never peel potatoes for anything, including mashed potatoes), I put them on to boil for mashed potatoes. The turkey was stuffed and in the oven, the potatoes were cooking...this is usually the point of just relaxing, but I was not relaxing at all, I was being tortured by mosquitoes. Yes, even with spray, even with coils, it was not nice, not fun, not enjoyable.

Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore. Out of the oven came the turkey. Off the stove came the potatoes. I navigated my way through dogs and cats and escaped to my place. The turkey went on the grill, the potatoes couldn't quite recover, and become the lumpiest mashed potatoes I have ever made in my life. But with a quarter pound of butter and pint of heavy cream in them, who cared? The bowl was empty when I last saw it!

Empty mashed potato bowl behind Mikey....who is back for seconds...or thirds
(there was enough food to fill up the table quite a few times,
but alas, only one bowl of mashed potatoes. More next year!)

The roasting pan was pretty sturdy but I put a flat pan under it for support. I also put a few sticks of wood in there on top of the flame shield. With the grill on medium low, the sticks just smoked some, which is what I wanted. Had I known I was going to use the grill, I'd have soaked them a few hours first, but even cheating like I did, there was a delicate smokiness to the meat that I really liked. Next year, grillin' all the way - with soaked wood chips - after the brine!

The sun was really shining on the turkey!

The cornbread stuffing got a big compliment from someone who claims to love cornbread, so I am figuring it was all right. Next year, I'll only cook foods I love myself, even if I try something new.. I don't like the worry of wondering if it is 'right'. And if you're not thrilled about the taste of something, trust me, you just can't know if it is right or not. I didn't even take a photo of it finished; in fact I forgot about it in my mad get-away-from-the-mozzies dash and had to go back and get it later on. Poor cornbread stuffing!

"What's in there??"

As usual there was plenty of food and all of it good. This year seemed to be the year of desserts. I'm not a big dessert person but two of them had me nibbling away, Kim's pecan pies and Zulayma's flan, which was a pretty as it was delicious. And almost gone before I could ge a photo of it!

Don't you wish you had a slice of this? Yes you do.

A good day, a happy day, with part of our island family of friends. And lots of turkey leftovers for meals in the days to come, including those bones for soup when the weather cools off more.
 Yes, Jack, you're on the blog
First Thanksgiving en familia

John and Chuck's dessert plate

Just sayin'

Three women eating drinking laughing

Happy folk!

Tia Krista and Kai

Pan almost smiling

Hope your Thanksgiving was excellent! Have a great respite between now and the next big's really all about the love, so don't make yourself crazy...or in some cases, crazier. Really. I mean that.


  1. Awesome. The flan looks like jewelry!

  2. I'll make sure Z knows you wrote that...what a beautiful description!