turkeys and other things we ate today

Gloria had done a good bit of preparing for the feast over the last few days. I helped just a little. Today was the big day, though, and it went well. We got up at quarter to five, this morning, and I was amazed to see a light coating of snow over everything. It was only on the cars and the trees, though; the roads were just a bit wet.

We got over to my parents, unwrapped the turkey, and put it in the brine. It was still just a little frozen, but not so solid that a soak in the salt wouldn’t take care of it. We flipped the bird over around eight, and then Gloria headed to the gym to teach a class while I relaxed, reviewed some recipes, and played some Disgaea. (I am struggling to stay ahead of Jennifer, who seems to be making steady progress while I am distracted with other things.)

The bird went into the oven around eleven, and we were hoping that it would take about two and a half hours, which would be in line with past experience. Everything seemed to be going well, until the probe thermometer reported that it was above 160 degrees F in the breast, fairly shy of two hours into the main cooking. This wasn’t that surprising: I often need to fiddle with the probe’s position to find the thickest part of the meat that isn’t too near the bone. The surprising part was that I didn’t seem able to find a cooler part in the bird. As I started to mumble about this, Mom said, “Is the oven set to the right temperature?”

“Of course!” I snapped, glancing up only to discover that it was, in fact, at 425 instead of 350. Yikes!

So, the bird came out early and got to rest inside a carefully engineered pile of aluminum foil. Later, we would discover that it was perfectly edible, but a bit dry. I am not expecting totally awesome leftovers, but I will eat them nonetheless. Nothing beats leftover Thanksgiving turkey, in my book.

Gloria had gone back home to bake the dressing, since we didn’t have oven room at my parents’, but she returned when I called to say that the oven had been emptied early. Everything else seemed to come together just fine, with one potential exception, which I’ll get to below.

Gloria made jalapeno corn muffins, which were tasty as always. I made garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, which I think were the best mashed potatoes that I’ve ever made. Gloria made awesome green beans and cranberry chutney and squash soup. I made sausages and artichokes. Gloria made a pan gravy and a totally awesome apple tart. We bought a bakery pumpkin pie from Wegman’s.

Of all those things, the only problem item was the artichoke dish. It was made with halved artichokes, poached in water and wine with some herbs; the artichokes were cooked until soft, then de-choked and simmered with some shallots, lemon, and sage in oil and sausage fat. The sausage, which was cooked in the oil, was later sliced and added back together and the whole thing was served.

It tasted very good, to me, but the artichokes were a problem. No matter how many leaves I took off, it seemed like I never got down to just the tender ones. To be honest, when I got around to serving myself some, I only ended up eating the stem. I knew, though, that the artichokes, as served, were probably not easy to eat. I’d like to make the dish again and get it just right, but I don’t think I will. Artichokes seem like a real pain.

The sausage was really nice, though. It was just plain old country sausage from Wegman’s butcher.

Gloria’s apple tart was really good, even though we forgot to get ice cream to go on it. I think it was just fine without. I even really enjoyed the pumpkin pie quite a bit. The wine wasn’t so great; I should’ve gone for a beer. (Dad has a case of Hop Devil in the kitchen.)

Anyway, it was all really good. I got really full, came home, and started thinking that I could go for some leftovers. Heide and Pete showed up, much to our surprise, and that was good, too. Steve was the only sibling not to make an appearance, probably because he’s in China. What a bum!

Tonight I’ve just been sort of bumming around, reading some articles (I’ve got quite a queue of Arts and Letters Daily articles to go through), and playing a little Disgaea. I nearly fell asleep, earlier, but I’m going to wait for Gloria to get home. She, sad to say, is working the reception desk at the gym from eight until midnight, the poor girl.

Written on November 25, 2005
thanksgiving