This year, I was lucky enough to be able to fly home to good old Concord, New Hampshire for a good old Thanksgiving with my family. My mom is an amaaaazing cook... I really will be lucky if I'm half the cook she is someday... and as always it was a fantastic meal. Only I think I appreciated it more this year because I finally realize how much effort goes into making everything-- and making sure it turns out right.
I mean, let's take the turkey for instance. It's a BIG animal! Several pounds! And scary looking too, before it's cooked. See, as a kid, I had the luxury of letting other people (i.e. mom) do the yucky preparations on meat etc.... I just got to eat it when it came out of the oven, often vaguely resembling the animal it once was. Now I can at least do chicken breasts, steaks, etc... but a whole turkey? Yeah, still scary.
Lucky for me I got to watch two turkey preparations this year: the first was at work last Tuesday. My advertising agency represents Butterball, that famous poultry producer, and they have this thing called the Butterball Turkey Hotline. It's basically 60 ladies who are trained to give advice on all things turkey, and one of the Turkey Ladies came in to work last Tuesday to share her expertise! Seeing it demonstrated made things seem a lot easier, but it didn't really make me more willing to stick my arms into turkey orfices. Most of what she talked about had to do with cooking safety, and what temperature the bird should be when it's done (170). However, a lot of turkeys these days (including the one my mom cooked) come with these little red buttons that simply POP up when it's done! Much easier if you ask me. Either way, you get a fully, safely cooked bird.
Mom's turkey preparation was simple, but very tasty. She took out the giblets and stuffed the turkey with her special homemade stuffing (which has sausage in it), and brushed the bird with olive oil before sprinkling on salt and pepper. After tying up the open end, she placed the turkey in a roasting rack, in a pan. And here's a new trick she did: in the pan itself, she put roughly cut onion, potato, and carrots, and TWO CUPS of water. Thus, as the turkey cooked, it was also steamed, which kept the meat nice and juicy. Before putting it in the oven, she placed a sheet of aluminum foil over the breast, which she took off with about an hour left to go.
Here are the diagrammed results of mom's wonderful feast:
And here are the diagrammed results of our lovely dessert selection (or at least what my sister Susie selected):
And a wonderful eve it was.