I promise I have a reasonable excuse for not having posted regularly in such a long time. Really I do.
First, since I’m an English teacher, you know that high school can be hectic in the first couple of months. It has been a tad more hectic this time--more than usual.
Also, last week, I just had two root canals redone. My ex-dentist didn’t really didn’t do a good job of it (about 10 years ago) and I think as a result I developed an infection recently. I went to a fantastic specialist—an endodontist this time and he was highly recommended by my current dentist. I am much more confident that this time it’ll work.
However, after 2 hours in the chair and listening to drilling and chiselling, I still currently have cheeks that only a chipmunk would love and I have slight bruising. This is all normal of course, and though I ate congee for the first few days, I was able to eat the gorgeous free range turkey I roasted today. I just cut everything in itty bitty pieces and chewed on my left side only. Hey, whatever works, right?
Since I discovered the joys of brining turkeys, I’ll never go back. One year, I delayed too much at purchasing a turkey and as a result I couldn’t find a fresh one anywhere in the supermarkets. I happened to go to Capers/Whole Foods and lo and behold, they had quite a few fresh turkeys left in their fridge. I grabbed one and made the tastiest turkey ever. Since then, I haven’t gone back to the regular supermarket turkeys. I buy free range or organic. It costs way more money but the taste is remarkable. This turkey was a little over 15 pounds. It was $95. Yup. That is indeed pricey. But it is so flavourful!
I loathe dry breast meat and so I don’t waste my hard-earned money on a pricey bird by treating it poorly. I always brine my fresh turkeys the day before. I start in the morning and put the turkey in a large plastic bin. Then I mix hot water and kosher salt with a bit of sugar and stir to dissolve. I then toss in a tea bag filled with some cloves, black peppercorns, and juniper berries. I add plenty of cold water and then submerge the turkey in the brine and stick it all in the fridge until the evening. I drain and dry the turkey and place it uncovered on a rack atop a sheet pan and allow it to dry in the refrigerator overnight. This helps with a crackly skin.
I start the bird out on a rack in the roasting pan lined with carrots, onions, celery, thyme sprigs from my backyard and some water to catch those yummy drippings. The turkey starts its journey to yummyville with its back up, at a high temperature – 400 degrees F. After an hour, I flip it over and have it breast up for most of the time at 250 degrees F. Then I blast it on high heat again for the final hour for a crisp and crackly skin. Because I have a Wolf oven, I have the luxury of the built-in meat probe and also a convection feature if I’m in a hurry. I never have problems with over or under-cooked meat.
The best part is the stuffing, and though I’ve tried other types of stuffing, I like a traditional moist bread stuffing: cubed white bread, onions, celery, parsley, poultry seasoning and some eggs and chicken broth. It never disappoints.
Sure, I’ve even heard of sticky rice stuffing and thought of making it, but since I only make turkey twice a year, I don’t want to take a chance on anything we may not like as much. I’ve tried sausage, bacon, fennel, pine nuts and all the fancy other additions to stuffing, but I like the star attraction to be the turkey. The plain bread stuffing is a wonderful accompaniment.
One of my daughter’s favourite side dishes is creamed spinach. This time I added chopped white mushrooms. I sauteed them until dry and added them to the creamed spinach mixture and topped everything with parmesan cheese. After baking, it was bubbly, creamy and delicious!
For dessert, I had planned to make a pumpkin créme brulée. Unfortunately, when I got to Superstore, the entire section of canned pumpkin was sold out. I looked high and low and thought it better to just forget the idea. So I made créme caramel. It was a perfect ending to a satisfying meal.
Now, I’ll be saying bye for now because I have a stack of things to mark and my seratonin levels are sky-high from all that turkey. I’ll be putting my feet up shortly.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!