Happy Monday! As I thoroughly enjoyed preparing the Thanksgiving feast this year, I thought I would share some of the things I learned. Allow me to start with a little background. The first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner I was at University, 1000 miles from home. Several friends and I were “homeless” for the big meal, so I decided to give it try. It was very last minute, I think we were all hoping for last second flight deals that never happened. I had to buy a fresh turkey, which I remember being very expensive for a strapped-for-cash student. There were loads of phone calls to mom, since Google wasn’t really an option back then, asking everything from cooking time to how to carve the bird. The preparation of this meal is so ridiculously over-the-top that it’s hilarious to reminisce on what probably looked like some Monty Python sketch. The meal turned out great and I became hooked on cooking.
For this year, thanks to the overwhelming amount of information online, I tried a few different tactics while approaching the “Fowl Beast.”
Lesson #1 – Don’t fear the fowl beast! – I had a 21 pound turkey, that was the smallest I could find, seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a bird over 16-17. Now I have amazing leftovers that I look forward to eating everyday.
Lesson #2 – Brine the bird! Very easy, I’m convinced you can throw in whatever you want, within reason, at it is going to deliver a delicious, moist turkey that is sure to please the harshest of critics. Ours was amazing, just on it’s own it was the most flavorful poultry I’ve ever tasted. Enough said.
Lesson #3 – Protect the bird, with bacon! I always wanted to wrap a turkey in bacon, so I did. It helps protect the skin from over-browning and adds a bit of salt, fat, and flavor to the skin and drippings. Oh, and I used those drippings not only for the gravy, but the stuffing as well. Bacon jalapeño stuffing to be exact, the best I have ever had, no joke.
Lesson #4 – Keep it simple. If everything you make requires a ton of time, and sounds like a Bobby Flay throw-down, you might have missed the point. Remember it’s a holiday, enjoy yourself.
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