October 9, 2010

Happy Thanksturkey

I've been chatting with an American friend who took all of two second to tell me Canadians are crazy to be having Thanksgiving today. "Yeah, let's have it a few weeks before Christmas to ramp up the horrible holiday hostage situations that take place when families get together," I thought, but didn't say. We then fell to trying to figure out what Thanksgiving was about, anyway. She's smart, and came back to Abe Lincoln wanting to thank god. Or God. Take your pick. For all my schooling, Thanksgiving for me will forever be centered around a drawing I made with pilgrims in it, where I paid meticulous attention to getting the buckles on their shoes just right.

Thanksgiving is about buckles. And people with buckles on their shoes always remind me of leprechauns. Who knew two such disparate groups could share the same footwear? And then of course I think of the cereal commercial with the annoying little leprechaun, and Thanksgiving is now about Lucky Charms. Which are on sale at No Frills this week, by the way. Coincidence? I think not. Turkeys, aisle one, Lucky Charms, aisle three.

Everyone will be here later for turkey. I was up early and tossed a 22 pound sucker into its sea salt bath. (If you've never brined a turkey, it is easy, fast and makes the guaranteed best turkey, ever. And it cooks in under 3 hours. Email me if you want to know how, though it's too late for today. But you could do it tomorrow. So, ask.)

Roz will be here this afternoon to gracefully shove me out of the way and take over. I will pretend to offer to help, but mostly just open wine. Her hubby will disappear to watch TV that isn't centered around the girly girly fixup shows that Roz makes him watch on a regular Saturday. Gilly and her crew will be here later; her youngest has a hockey game, though if I know my sister she will leave him to his Dad and arrive here early to assist Roz. I will give her wine.

Both boys are working till 6 or 7. This is a new twist in these things, watching them grow up and having responsibilities beyond putting their laundry away. Which they still don't do, by the way. But as I was elbow deep in a turkey's arse this morning, I couldn't help but think I was doing my Dad's job. He'll be gone 14 years on October 26. He always cleaned the turkey. He also peeled the vegetables, which I will do, too. Gilly and Manny do the baking - my mother's domain. So much the same, so much different. The same dishes made by different hands.

We're not too inventive, chez Sommerfeld. We serve the same dinner for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. The kids used to call Thanksgiving Christmas without the presents. I've told them if they don't start putting their laundry away, we'll be having Christmas without the presents, too.

I'll tell you one thing for free: we used to come home for dinner every Sunday, and it was a good thing. My Mom would make a mom dinner - roast beef, usually - but we all made the trek to the dining room on Sundays. Didn't matter if we lived in the same house or hours away, you knew if you weren't home on Sunday you were going to get a call. And we would fight and badger and laugh and be bored. We would look around that table at these people we were connected to by blood or wedding bands, and wonder if we could get out of next Sunday's dinner so we could do something else.

Looking back, I'm grateful I got to far more than I missed. I look at both of my sisters in the middle of this chaos, and I finally realize who I am thanking. This is where my children come from.


Anonymous buzzwhack said...

It's Cornish hen and all the trimmings for this house on holiday weekend. No waste and easier for a single person to make and use up for leftovers. I get enough turkey doo doo at my relatives houses. Happy week end all!

October 09, 2010 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please post the brining secret! I'm not cooking our turkey until Monday and will take any and all suggestions. I still have to do the grocery shopping and while the turkey is thawing in my mothers' fridge she is losing her mind not being in control and freaking out that I haven't had all the supplies in the house for days now and haven't started peeling the potatoes yet!

October 09, 2010 4:37 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Okay, this is from Chef Michael Smith. We've done it for years now.

For a standard 12 to 20 pound turkey, you will need 2 pounds of sea salt. You also need a clean cooler or bucket. (I use a cooler; we call it the turkey cooler).

Clean the turkey and pick off any feathers/bits of crap. Pull the neck and little bag of nasties out. Put the turkey in the cooler, and rub the salt all over it, inside and out. When you're done, dump the rest of the salt in the cooler, then fill it up with cold water so the turkey is covered.

Put the lid on it and put it somewhere cool; we haul it out to the garage. It's heavy. Leave it for 4 hours for a smaller turkey and as much as 6 for a bigger one. NO more than 6 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it well. I mean, really, really rinse it. Roz will yell at you if you don't rinse it well. It will make your gravy too salty if you don't rinse it. When you think you've rinsed it enough, rinse it again.

Dry it off, put in the roasting pan, set the oven for 400 degrees. Stick stuff in the cavity like carrots, onions and fresh herbs. We stuff half a lemon up there as well. Rub some olive oil all over it, and some fresh pepper. You'll have to make your stuffing separately.

Jam on the lid. Turkey is done when meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 165 degrees.

This usually takes 2 and a half to three hours. We usually cook a 22-24 pound bird, it's never taken more than 3 hours. Check it around the two hour mark (or 2 and a half) and take the lid off to brown it up. If you don't have a thermometer, you can wiggle the leg around. When it practically comes off, it's probably done too. But go buy a thermometer and don't sue me.

October 09, 2010 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds perfect! Everything else I'm cooking wants a 400 oven and I was trying to figure out how I was going to do the turkey at 325 and get the side dishes done at 400 all in one oven. Thanks for posting that! Also saves me sticking my hands inside to stuff it. Another thing that will drive my poor mother nuts on Monday when she doesn't get stuffing out of the bird. I'll let you know how it turns out.

October 09, 2010 9:59 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Ignore Lorraine's picture, this is Roz. You probably knew that as it's a recipe and she doesn't do recipes.

Here's a stuffing recipe that works with the brined big bird:

Dry out 4 cups of cubed bread (I use whole wheat whatever is lying around) Saute about 1 cup of chopped onion in 1 T olive oil and add 1 cup chopped celery and about 1 cup sliced mushrooms (which Lorraine picks out as she doesn't like them - whatever). Once soft add 1 T worchestershire sauce, s & p,2 tsp. thyme, 2 tsp. sage or poultry seasoning, some rosemary (chopped up) - I use fresh herbs so measurements are approx. for dried. Mix this up in a large saute pan until mushrooms have a little color, add 1 T margarine or butter and turn off heat. Add bread cubes and toss to coat, add about 1/2 cup or more chicken broth to moisten.

Put mixture in a covered casserole dish and about 45 minutes before serving time, bake at 400 degrees, reducing heat to 350 once the turkey comes out. Moisten stuffing halfway through with some of the turkey roasting juices - about 3/4 cup.

That my stuffing recipe which seems a lot healthier than the up the birds wazoo method.


October 10, 2010 8:30 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It may just be a breast of turkey for me. My crew is donw south for TG this weeknd. Maybe a pitcher of suds and a plate of wings will do too.
Happy Thanks giving. :-)

October 10, 2010 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Roz. I actually went and checked out Michael Smiths' site for his recipe, not doubting Lorraine but you never know how things get lost in translation! The only thing different is that he adds brown sugar to the brine with the salt and only roasts at 400 for the first hour then reduces the temp to 300.
Thanks for the stuffing notes. I so wish I was doing it today and didn't have to wait until tomorrow!

October 10, 2010 11:51 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Just a damned minute. That is an actual printout from Chef Michael Smith WE have been using for a dozen years.

If he has changed his recipe and added brown sugar (shudder), it is not my fault.

Our turkey was perfect. I suggest not mucking with the temperature.

But I have a funny feeling you don't believe any ol' person on the internet...unless they're wearing a chef's hat.

I could get a chef's hat.

Webgod puts a Santa hat on me at Christmas.

On my blog.

October 10, 2010 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, he has changed it then. But I will always defer to tried & true over just something on the internet no matter whose name is on it. Like I said before, the 400 degree oven is where I want it, so I am going to stick with that and I have no brown sugar in the house so I'm sticking with salt only. Not a chance I'm going to a grocery store when they are closed the next day. (and Michael Smith isn't wearing a chefs hat, I think he's too tall for one, it would hit the ceiling)

October 10, 2010 5:06 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I was just on the phone whining to Roz that nobody trusts me.

I take it back.

I hope you have a perfect turkey;)

October 10, 2010 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Roz said...

You have to let us know how the turkey turns out. Good Luck.

October 10, 2010 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Thanksgiving in Canada is earlier than in the US because of the harvest times. Being a little further south, the US can celebrate the harvest later.

October 11, 2010 2:50 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

You just made entirely too much sense. You've obviously stumbled into the wrong blog, Anonymous...=)

October 11, 2010 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My turkey turned out fabulous, thank you so much Lorraine & Roz for all you advice! thanks also to the party on my street that kept me up half the night so that I was actually awake and able to get up at 5:30 to put the turkey in the brine as people were on the street saying goodbye and getting into their cars to go home.
Fed 14 tonight and am finally done cleaning up. Two months and we get to do it all again for Christmas.

October 11, 2010 10:27 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Only 165 degrees?

Hmmm... for years, I have used 185 as a benchmark - but remove the bird from the oven at around the 180 mark and tent it... it continues to cook.

October 12, 2010 9:32 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Anonymous Turkey Cooker - I'm so glad it went well!

Omemee...I don't even own a thermometer. I just wiggle the leg. If it's pretty much loose, it's done. Nobody's died yet.

October 12, 2010 9:35 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

That last sentence sounds just like my Mother!

That's usually her response when we remind her that cigarette ash was, to us growing up, considered a condiment!

October 12, 2010 12:27 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

So sorry I missed all this while I was BBQing my bird (Turkey on the spit goes round and round...) and did not share my age old turkey recipe...

...Thaw bird completely, stuff with croutons, spices and 1 cup of un-popped popcorn. Roast at 375 for roughly 1/2 hr per 5 lbs. At some point, you will hear a series of 'pops' followed by a loud 'bang'

At this point, the turkey is not only done...but carved as well!



October 12, 2010 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL....I like the popcorn idea!
I have a thermometer that my mother gave me a few years ago. For some reason once she got that, she forgot that she'd roasted and bbq'd for years without one. Mine only got to 155 with the turkey but we were just over 3 hours and Lorraine was adamant that her bigger turkey never took more than 3. I checked it, the juices were running clear and so far nobody has gotten sick. The bird was cooked and moist. If I'd left it to get to 165, much less the 180 that the thermometer says turkey needs to be, it would have been brutally dry....something like the roast beef I grew up on for Sunday dinners..

October 12, 2010 6:18 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

"so far nobody has gotten sick"

I'm gonna write a cookbook with that as the title.

It's my kitchen motto.

October 12, 2010 6:45 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

That and when the smoke detector goes off, dinner's ready!

Is that Gilly?

The thermometer thing does work and will vary dependent on where you stick it.

October 13, 2010 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know where I'd like to stick it. We only use it when she is here and even then we just make it go off when we want to so that she will think it is done.
And so far nobody has ever gotten sick!

October 13, 2010 8:44 PM  

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