Cooking has never been my strong suit, but I seem to be getting the hang of it at this ripe old age I've attained. Or maybe I'm just particularly good at Thanksgiving because our usual menu is my favorite meal of the year. There is nothing I like better than turkey and dressing, along with all the accoutrements (cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, rolls and pumpkin pie.) Some years we also have sweet potato casserole and/or macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, and apple pie as well as pumpkin or pecan.
Ordinarily, I bake turkey breasts, because most of us prefer white meat, but I've decided that the best gravy comes from baking a full turkey. This year, I hit the jackpot, discovering a recipe almost by accident this morning that led to a tender, juicy, golden turkey and the best tasting gravy I've ever made (even if it wasn't as thick as mr. kenju might have liked.)
The recipe said to chop celery, onions and carrots and place them under and around the turkey rack in the roaster. It also called for parsley, and because I had some fresh thyme and rosemary and dried sage, I added a bit of all three to the mix, then added 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Every 30 minutes, I basted the turkey with chicken stock, making sure that there was always some of it in the base of the roaster. When the turkey was done, I let it cool for 15-20 minutes and then I made gravy.
I added six cups of chicken stock to the roaster (it said to pour off most of the fat, but it didn't really have much) and let it come to a boil, while scraping the bits off the bottom of the roasting pan and stirring constantly. When the liquid had reduced by about 1/3, I strained it into a saucepan, added 5 teaspoons of butter and stirred well. Then I mixed 1/3 cup of cornstarch into 1/4 cup water and whisked until smooth, adding it to the gravy liquid and stirring continually until the mixture began to thicken. It as dark and rich looking, and I tasted it and added some salt and white pepper. It was nearly perfect, to my taste, and my family seemed to agree. It sure beats the jar gravy, which I usually have on hand in case my attempt to make gravy turns out badly. Luckily, I didn't need to use them this year!!
The dressing was perfection too: home-made sausage that came from Mel's family, sauteed mushrooms, celery, onions, rosemary, thyme, sage and Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing mix.
The "make-ahead" mashed potatoes are always winners, replete as they are with butter, Parmesan cheese and cream cheese. I always make them the day before and bake the dish for 30 minutes just before dinner. YUM.
My older daughter's green bean casserole is really good. I never make it, but I always look forward to eating it during the holidays. My younger daughter brought two pies and yeast rolls, and nearly all of that is gone already!
There were eight of us here this year. My son, daughter-in-law and their girls were with his wife's family (we usually alternate with them) but we will see them all soon. All in all, it was a good day, although a long and tiring one. I only slept 4 1/2 hours last night, so I am truly hoping that I sleep at least 7 hours tonight. I have to be at work by 9am!!
I hope that all of you had a terrific Thanksgiving with your loved ones, and for those of you who live somewhere that this holiday is not celebrated, I hope you pause at some point soon to reflect on your life and the people and things for which you are grateful.