This is going to be a long one.
A long post for a very long day.
This week is Thanksgiving here in the good ol’ US of A. To celebrate the holiday we are buckling down here for our first snow fall of the year. Expecting to get a good 7-10″ (so they say) tomorrow. And I am happily typing away in the comfort of my home looking forward to a 5 day weekend! Yay, holidays and snow storms!
Recently, our local grocery store had an incentive program going that if you spent X amount of dollars within the month of Oct/Nov you got a free turkey up to 21lbs. Of course we greatly surpassed that here as we love food, cooking and convenience (this store is 2 blocks away). So last week when we were doing our weekly shopping my husband disappeared for a few minutes and came back with – of course- and 20.5lb turkey. Had to get his prize.
Since we are still “the kids” we usually trek to our parents households for the holiday which is planned out far more in advance. Or at least more than 6 days, which is about what we had. At this point I proclaimed – “GUESS WE ARE HAVING COMPANY!”
Our timing worked out quite well- Brett’s Birthday was the upcoming Sunday so a Saturday night of food and drinks with our closest friends sounded fantastic.
Fantastic until I realized –
I’ve never cooked a 20lb turkey.
A quick google search will lead you to about 39482093784523578038528 youtube videos and stories of people burning down their houses, botching a bird or worse. Then a long and intense google search will bring you to what seemed like the best turkey roasting recipe. I don’t know why I found all this so daunting. I’ve cooked a lot of odd ball items. I also roast chickens often, but for some reason the idea of a 20lb bird in my oven for HOURS with about 6 people coming to my house for it seemed scary at the time.
Even Portia was a little worried, initially.
If you are wondering what I do with the giblets (neck, liver, heart and gizzards)……I freeze the neck for Portia and try to give her the other stuff. But she is like her mama and not into it. (she does love a good frozen turkey neck though, and its totally safe to give to your pooch)
I decided to use my old go-to of stuffing the bird with Parsley and whatever herbs/seasonings I am incorporating. In this instance I had found a recipe that called for a rosemary/orange butter for the second half of roasting and decided to throw the extra into the bird.
gotta have the right tunes to get you in the zone.
Once my bird was in the oven I realized the real work would begin. I had HOURS to spare. Turkey’s pretty much cook themselves so with 6 hours to spare I decided it was time to REALLY crank my Jay-Z/Beyonce playlist and prep all my sides as best I could.
I cannot stress this enough- The more you can get prepped early on the better you will feel as dinner time arrives. Since this was my first turkey endeavor I went with simple sides. Sure I had visions of Brussel Sprout Gratin with Pancetta and Parmesan Leek sourdough stuffing dancing in my head……..but I digress. I am glad I didn’t go there. Because after peeling, chopping, dancing and rinsing I was a wee bit tired and ready for a shower.
I went with a simple spread-
- Sauteed Green Beans
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Mashed Potatoes (duh, best part.)
- Stuffing from a bag (sorry not quite stove top, but equally as lazy)
- Cresent rolls and Canned Cranberry.
We got good and old fashioned for this meal!
By the time I was done prepping it was time to uncover the bird, crank up the heat and…*drum roll*
LET THE BASTING COMMENCE
This was probably the most fun part of the afternoon (before the drinking and friends stuff….) Getting down and dirty with my hands covered in butter smearing all over the bird. Then for the next 3.5 hours I basted every 30 minutes. I also timed it perfectly so that the turkey was ready to come out about a half hour before guests were expected to arrive. Since it should sit for at least 30 before serving.
I was pretty damn proud. Look at that golden skin, LOOK AT IT.
This last image is what I will describe as “the calm before the storm”. I also skipped the pretty “look at this turkey on a pretty platter surrounded by parsley and fruits” to save myself from cleaning another platter. Anyone who has hosted a dinner party knows that the last 10-15 minutes are pure madness pulling it all together at the end. So we plopped that turkey down on a carving board and my husband massacred it (to go straight to the table in bits).
Shout-out to my sister for capturing the chatting/wine gulping/turkey massacring/gravy whisking madness.
And then it was time to chow down.
So, with that being said. During this time of year people usually go around talking about what they are thankful for. I am thankful for a lot of things, but on this night in particular I was most thankful for good friends, good wine and a good time had by all.
And that everyone helped with the clean up….in their own way…