Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gobble Gobble

With a new house comes new traditions, and this year Steve and I will be hosting Thanksgiving for his family. His parents, both sisters, and one of their boyfriends will be joining us for a turkey and all the trimmings. About a week or so ago, Steve mentioned that since I hadn't made a turkey before, it might be a good idea for me to do a practice run so that I know what to expect on the big day. He went to the market, got a turkey, and yesterday was the big day.

Danielle's First Turkey!

When I got back from a couple of errands, I did what every woman does before they cook something for the first time that they've eaten a million times - I called my mom. She verified that the cooking should be about 20 minutes/pound at 350 degrees, and reminded me about stuffing the bird so that it doesn't collapse. Now, I have no idea if that's an old wives tale or not - but I knew that I wanted to stuff it with some "aromatics".

I chunked up some celery, gala apple, and sweet onion. They were tossed together in a bowl with about 1 tbsp lemon juice, rosemary, and crushed garlic. I stuffed them in the bird along with 2 good sized sprigs of sage and 2-3 cinnamon sticks. I wasn't sure how it would make the bird taste, but I had a darn good feeling it would smell great coming out of the oven.

Bird stuffing ready to go.
While I was getting the bird ready to be stuffed (removing the giblet packet, pulling the neck out of the cavity, and washing it down), I was thinking about how much the process of preparing a turkey reminded me of my Thanksgivings growing up. I would often help get the stuffing ready and stuff the turkey to get in the oven. Those thoughts reminded me of how much I love the fall - and as I had that thought I looked out the window and saw this:

There was a beautiful picture of fall right in front of me that I got to look at while I was getting the turkey done. The sky was clear and the air was crisp. An amazingly perfect fall day - the perfect day to cook a turkey, the ultimate fall comfort food.

Once I was done being distracted, I stuffed the turkey and tied it up. I didn't have any twine so a quick search of my yarn stash showed that I did indeed have some plain white cotton yarn that would do the trick. If you don't like looking at raw meat - scroll past the next picture that demonstrates that I can sufficiently hog-tie a stuffed bird.

As the turkey was cooking, our house smelled absolutely delicious. The smell of turkey permeated the air and just made our house reek of comfort food. I made up the stuffing, got the vegetables ready, and 2.5 hours later I called in the TRU (Turkey Removal Unit - aka Steve) to take the turkey out of the oven.

Steve taking out the very first Athanas Family Turkey

Steve cut up the turkey after it rested and we sat down to enjoy my very first turkey. The breast was a little bit drier than I would have liked, but it wasn't totally dry and overall the turkey was good. I served it up with cornbread stuffing, broccoli and carrots. After dinner we enjoyed the apple pie that our guests had brought - it was quite good.

What was really cool about my serving up a practice Thanksgiving turkey is that our guests had brought with them a really cool housewarming gift. Our dining room set was inherited from Steve's grandmother. When she sold her house, one of the things that she disposed of at her garage sale was the dry sink that was a part of the set - it just wouldn't fit in her condo. When we bought our house, her friend Pat emailed me and said she wanted us to have the dry sink back. Steve's family always had Thanksgiving at Grams' until she passed away, and now that we have a house and will be hosting Thanksgiving ourselves - we'll be able to do it using the same full dining room set and the same china that his family has always enjoyed Thanksgiving with.

The dining room set - together again!

My first turkey was - I would say - a success. We're enjoying the leftovers tonight in the form of barbecue turkey sandwiches (currently simmering in the crockpot) while watching the Pats vs. Steelers football game. I am even more excited than I was before for Thanksgiving - it's a definite reassurance to know I won't screw up the main event of the meal!


Chris Menice said...

Awesome. I love making turkey. You can cook the turkey breast side down so all the juices flow into the white meat making it moist instead of dry.

Rasputin said...

Just whatever you do, don't forget the peas.

Steve Athanas said...

Peas, huh? No one coming seems to really want them.