Though I had hoped to give the full Thanksgiving rundown today, after looking at all the photos, I realized that this would make for one loooooooong post. So instead, today it's all about how we get all of that delicious Thanksgivingy goodness on the table. Tomorrow we'll see the finished products and all the people who made it special. Of course, if you missed yesterday's post on our best pumpkin pie, that's worth a read too.
(NOTE: I did not use any Photoshop or similar software on these photos. The golden glow of the turkey is the untouched real deal.)
Any Thanksgiving prep starts with the turkey (well, maybe not vegetarian Thanksgivings, but I'm taking a little latitude here), and ours had started days earlier with a two-day thaw and a two-day brine. Thanksgiving morning, we pulled the bird out of the brine and let it air dry in the fridge for a few hours before stuffing lots of delicious truffle butter under the skin. While it doesn't have to be truffle butter, putting some kind of butter under the skin makes for some awfully tasty white meat, and some incredibly crispy skin since it's sort of getting cooked from the inside and outside.
Mark got to be a total pro at working underneath the skin. Just take off any jewelry first, and scrub your hands like mad every few minutes!
After that, the turkey got a spritz of canola oil (said to be the best for browning the outside), a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and into the oven she went.
I'm a big fan of making a note on exactly when the turkey goes in, just so there's no confusion if someone accidentally resets a timer.
We went with Alton Brown's method all the way -- 30 minutes at 500 degrees, and then another 90 to 120 minutes at 350, until the bird reaches 160 degrees. For our 15.5 pounder, that took exactly 2 hours, and we got to peek in at this amazing skin bubbling all the while.
In the meantime, we finished up the stuffing which we'd started two days earlier when we cut up the bread to let it get stale. For the cornbread stuffing, we added the sage pork sausage, the sauteed celery and onion, the fresh sage and the turkey stock which I'd socked away in the freezer earlier in the year. I also decided to add in a chopped up apple (which you can see Mark chopping while Dusan looks on) at the last minute, along with a dash of cayenne pepper.
For my soon-to-be-famous (at least in my own mind) sage stuffing, I mixed up the stale breadcrumbs with lots of fresh sage, the sauteed onions and celery, more of that delicious homemade turkey stock, a whole egg and a healthy splash of cream (though you could also use half and half). It's Thanksgiving, after all, not National Diet Day! :-)
Then it was time to set the table...
Mix up some cocktails (gin, St. Germain, prosecco, club soda and mint) for the group...
And yank the big bird out of the oven...
Check out that amazing, dark golden skin! And I'll go into more depth tomorrow about the perfection of the meat. Brining and buttering under the skin is DEFINITELY the way to go. We've tried a lot of methods, and this is the best in our book.
Check out last year's turkey, which had been our most golden to date...
It's no competition.
Here, Mark carves up our delicious hen. See the rest tomorrow!
Want to read about last year's Thanksgiving outcome? Check it out here. And visit here to read about several of our past Thanksgivings.
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