So lazy; it’s snowing, and cozy in here, and I’d prefer to be curled up on the davenport watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix, but a full 20% of my readership has requested the second Thanksgiving menu. If I could I’d write the WHOLE post without vowels to save time and energy on all these keystrokes. But that would be cheating Kate. :o)
I did a 14 lb turkey very simply, with butter jammed underneath the skin of the breast and lots of kosher salt and pepper everywhere; it went in at 325 on a roasting rack, for three hours or maybe a bit more (this is why you should write things down sooner than 8 days later). When it was done I removed it to a carving board (the kind with the channel around the edge to contain the juices); the fat and stock in the bottom of the pan got strained into a 4 cup measure, and refrigerated while the bird rested to allow the fat to congeal somewhat on top for easier removal.
I did nothing special with the mashed potatoes; I use a ricer, which is like an immense garlic press. The potatoes (especially waxy ones) will retain a bit of texture when you use the ricer as opposed to a mixer, which will get a much smoother texture. I don’t mind the bits of solids and I like the old school feel of doing it by hand. Once an unconscionable amount of butter and half and half were added (with S&P to taste), I put them in a covered casserole in the oven until the rest of the meal was done.
I like cooking from scratch but I LOVE convenience, and since for this second meal I was a bit less prepared I used STOVE TOP. I love Stove Top Stuffing, stop laughing. I once had my friend Joan over (the best, most accomplished home cook of this century) for a roast chicken dinner and she was aghast: “JESUS CHRIST BARBARA what the hell is in that box–?” She couldn’t conceive of using anything that required only that one add water and margarine (no worries, I use butter not margarine). I told her it was addictive, just like potato chips. And she agreed– this stuff is salty and rich with nothing else added, and I don’t care that it’s so 1978. Not even Stove Top can escape gilding though; what I’ve found is it’s a way to cram in vegetables and no one’s the wiser. For two boxes of Stove Top I browned a pound of fresh Hot & Spicy breakfast sausage, the type that comes in the chubby tube. ( I can’t help that that sounds funny, and that it sticks with you; it’s like getting “It’s a Small World After All” out of your head, you just can’t do it. And for the rest of the day now your mind will treat you to variations on the theme of “It’s a Small World After All” with visions of dancing chubby tubes. You’re welcome.) OK, to the browned sausage I added a ton of diced celery and onion and sliced mushrooms (– in the past I’ve also added zucchini and carrot– when it’s done you can barely tell and the kids have gobbled it down), and sauteed until all is nicely browned, then I put the measured hot water and half the butter the package calls for (the sausage provides plenty of fat) into a larger casserole dish, added the sausage and veg, and let that hang out in the oven until the rest of the dinner is almost done. Ten minutes before dinner, I added the packaged bread pieces, tossed it all together, and covered it to let the bread soak everything up.
For the gravy, I started with a can of gravy (I think it’s Campbell’s now, it used to be Franco American I think), and added the reserved turkey juices, minus as much of the fat as I could skim off. I thin it all with a bit of water and add a cornstarch slurry (two or so tsps of cornstarch dissolved in a couple TBLS of cold water), cook it over medium heat until it thickens and bubbles, and then pepper it to taste; it usually never needs salt as everything is salted already.
I made cranberry sauce from scratch, if you can call this scratch cooking –it’s so fucking easy and delicious, people think you’re brilliant: a 12 oz bag of cranberries, picked over (some of them are too mushy to use, likely the Cranberry Board would say they’re fine but I toss the ones that don’t look fabulous), rinse, tossed into a small saucepan with 3/4 cup of water, and start with a half cup of sugar. Cook it until thickened. That’s it. DON’T ADD ANYTHING ELSE. You only use cranberries for a short time this time of year, you must respect the cranberry! Add a bit more sugar if your palate demands it, but no orange, no funky stuff– just let this jewel shine.
Pepperidge Farm made the rolls this year, which was very kind of them: I only had to give them $3 for 8 rolls, which were pre-baked, frozen, and ready to be crisped in the oven.
Asparagus appeared again, this time seared in bacon fat and salted. Seared? I meant to say burnt. I was lucky the smoke alarm didn’t go off, which puts the dog into paroxysms of death-angst. Still, when you picked the burned parts away it was really quite delicious.
Finally, a super quick pumpkin cheesecake, an amalgam of a couple of recipes from allrecipes.com. The following is the closest to what I used for the filling, except I always use way more cinnamon than recipes call for, and I made a graham cracker crust instead of pastry: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Cheesecake-I/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=pumpkin%20cheesecake&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page