Friday, November 21, 2008

Traditional turkey dinner

My husband and I can't get enough of Thanksgiving food. I'd never actually cooked turkey with bones before, but some nice pieces in the grocery store, plus a recipe from America's Test Kitchen, inspired me to make a mini-Thanksgiving for us at home.

Oh. My. Sweet. Lord. This recipe came out SO GOOD, and made some of the best goddamn turkey gravy I've ever had, no giblets required!

The technique is a simple one- slowly roast turkey legs and thighs on a rack over a mixture of chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, and chicken broth. After about 2 hours at 275º, the turkey meat rests for half an hour while you start the gravy by straining out the vegetables. I skimmed off some liquid fat before making the roux that thickens the gravy. Finally, the meat is returned to the oven at 500º for about ten to twelve minutes, which crisps the skin and makes for an awesome exterior texture.

To round out the meal, I also made mashed potatoes, my stepmother's cornbread and sausage dressing, and orange juice-tinged cranberry sauce. The mashed potatoes were a little loose, unfortunately, and the cranberry sauce needed more sugar, but altogether it was a rousing success.

The turkey recipe called for using an additional piece of meat- a bone-in, skin-on breast. The full recipe serves 10-12 and I was only feeding 3 people, so I stuck to 3 legs and 2 thighs, which provided plenty of leftovers. I think next time, however, I will use a breast only, since my husband definitely prefers white meat over dark and the cooking method here does not make for a dry bird like most people serve.

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