In the last 4 days I have watched at least some part of about seven different Thanksgiving related cooking shows. I've been getting ready for our annual pre-Thanksgiving-Thanksgiving dinner with friends--a tradition seven years strong now-- and I needed some ideas.
Well actually, I needed some tips. While I've cooked a turkey before a few times, I've never done it with much confidence. And I think the turkey knows when you're feeling a little scared. The turkey senses your insecurity. I've learned over the years that this can be pretty problematic.
So this year, as we were getting ready to feed our friends some seriously good food, I decided to act a little cocky. I also decided to whole-heartedly trust my food network friends who all assured me that cooking a turkey is, in fact, easy. After googling "turkey cooking times" about six hundred times, I prepped our bird and stuck her in the oven. 325 for three and a half hours.
It really was a lovely day of food prep. Quiet and relaxing, with that Ive-got-no where-to-be feeling. We made scalloped potatoes with roasted garlic and rosemary, whipped sweet potatoes with bananas and honey, green beans with shallots and bacon, cider gravy and brioche buns. Brad brought his stuffing that i look forward to ALL year long. And for dessert there was this brown butter vanilla bean pear crumble from Smitten that stole the show. (I won't lie, I ate it for breakfast this morning.)
The turkey had been in for over 2 hours when I decided to check it. I don't know why I felt the need to take it's temperature. Maybe because I kept asking myself, "If cooking a turkey is so easy, why the hec are there so many turkey-cooking horror stories? why the need for a turkey hot-line??" So with a full hour left of cooking time I took our bird out and checked it. Good thing I did because as it turns out that baby was done. D.O.N.E. with a full hour left. At first I felt so relieved. That, you know, I pulled it out in time. And that we all got some really great tasting turkey on our plates later. But as the bird sat on the counter and rested I started to feel a little peeved. Cooking a turkey IS tricky as it turns out. It's unpredictable and that bothers me. And makes me a little angry. Sigh.
I got over it though, and we had a beautiful evening. It was one of those nights with good food and good friends where it was real easy to feel thankful--at the beginning, middle and end of the night.
Knock the socks off your friends and family and bring this cranberry sauce to your gathering:
From Bon Appetit Magazine, tweaked
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
splash of water
1 TBL dijon mustard
1 TBL grainy mustard
Cook the cranberries, sugar and water over medium heat until the cranberries start to pop open. Take off heat and let cool completely. Stir in mustards and serve.