peasquared

my life in pictures and words

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving.  This year was quiet and full of firsts…and, well, some seconds.

Firsts this Thanksgiving:
brining a turkey
mashed potatoes – the way they were prepared
house guests
parker house rolls
brussels sprouts gratin
gravy – the way it was prepared
cranberrry & walnut salad
thanksgiving in this house

Seconds this Thanksgiving:
pumpkin pie x2
cooking a whole turkey
macaroni and cheese – paula deen style

This year as I started creating the menu I read about how brining the turkey would make it moist and flavorful without having to fill the cavity of the bird. And since I’m the kind of cook who doesn’t like too many steps or ingredients involved with what I’m cooking, I thought I’d give it a try. That way it’d be all prepped and ready to go and all I’d have to do is put it in the oven. Once I got the menu established I then set out to the market to get all the ingredients. I went to three different markets over three days and finally I had everything I needed.

Monday afternoon I started on the brine. At first I was going to use Alton Brown’s no fail recipe but I couldn’t find all the ingredients and so then I switched to The Pioneer Woman’s brine recipe, which you can find here.

Making the brine:
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The next day I cleaned the turkey and placed it in the brining bag and added the brine:
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I placed it in the fridge to do its thang
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On Thursday I took the bird out of the fridge and cleaned it of its brine according to P-Dub’s instructions.
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Since I went with P-Dub’s brine I decided to also go with her roasting recipe. So once it was cleaned and ready to be roasted I checked, double checked, and even triple checked the recipe to make sure that I was following it correctly.

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After about two hours of rosting I took it out of the oven and it looked like this
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Some close-ups
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While the turkey was cooking I got started on the sides – Paula Deans’s Lady’s Cheesy Mac, Brussels Sprouts Gratin, Perfectly Mashed Potatoes, and Parker House Rolls.

This years’ mashed potatoes were made with real potatoes rather than bagged flakes. And I read that boiling potatoes with the skin on makes for a better flavor so that’s what I did. Once they were fork tender, I drained them and got to work on peeling the skins off.

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Then I started the macaroni and cheese.

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As the mac and cheese was baking, I started the brussels sprouts gratin. Now, I’ve only had brussels sprouts one time and when I saw a recipe that included cheese, breadcrumbs, and heavy cream I thought that I’d use this dish as my “vegetable” dish.

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While everything was being made, the dough for the Parker House Rolls was rising. Once the dough was ready I shaped it out and cut them into strips. Then I placed them on the baking sheet as instucted. When they finished baking, I brushed melted butter on the top and let them cool for just a few minutes.
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Once the turkey had cooled, I transfered it to a platter and used the drippings to make the gravy. Now, I didn’t follow all the directions in this recipe. But it still turned out good.

I’m making the roux here
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And here the fat is seaparating from the flavorful juice
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After the gravy was done, I looked around for a bowl to pour it into. I realized then that I don’t have a gravy boat so I turned my teapot into a make-shift gravy boat.
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At this point, all the food was cooked and we were ready to sit down to eat dinner. I mentioned earlier that we had our first house guests. Paul’s cousin and her husband, Becky and Dale, drove down from Chicago to visit and celebrate Thanksgiving with us. This is the only picture I have of the four of us. Paul had started carving the turkey already. And that’s the only picture I have of the cranberry and walnut salad.
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We all had a delightful time catching up and learning new things about each other. It was nice to have family with us to celebrate this first holiday in our first home. Thanks, Becky and Dale, for driving down to visit with us. We will make it up to Chicago before you leave in the Spring!

I think that this year has started a new tradition for us. All the recipes I used for this meal are keepers and will be made over and over again. Maybe even at times when it’s not Thanksgiving. =)

What did you do for Thanksgiving? Do you have any traditions that have been in your family for a long time? Or maybe you started your own this year? Do you have any recipes that you must absolutely make? Or maybe ones that you tried out before that you vow NEVER to make again? Either way, I’m interested in learning more about you. Thanks!

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One thought on “Thanksgiving 2011

  1. Pingback: Who turned out the lights? « peasquared

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