Any of you who’ve seen me on Facebook this week know I’ve been ever-so-slightly stressing over cooking Thanksgiving dinner for seven. It isn’t the number of people or even cooking a full meal for them, it’s the turkey that’s getting to me. Can someone please explain the allure of turkey? I’ve never been a fan, and always managed to avoid more than the token piece whenever it was served. It isn’t even that it’s usually dry, because I’m more of a dark meat fan. It’s just so … dull, more like a meat substitute than real meat.
Given my indifference to the bird, it should come as no surprise that I have no experience cooking it. So, observing (for the first time in my life) the rule that you never serve anything to guests you haven’t made at least once before, I did a dry run a couple of weeks ago using Alton Brown’s brine recipe. It garnered rave reviews online, but I thought the turkey was still meh, though moistly meh, granted. So hey, that’s something.
But last week the heavens parted when I read the LA Times article on the Zuni CafÃ© method of roasting a turkey and decided to give that a try, as it promises flavorful turkey with delicious crispy skin. The problem is, I had to start it Sunday because I didn’t want to deal with it before work at 5am Monday, so it’ll brine a little bit longer than the 3 days + 8 hours recommended in the recipe. Claudia warned me against it, but I’m an irrepresible risk-taker. Hell, I’m a maverick. (I just had to find a way to get that in there, sorry.) And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the extra day of salting doesn’t ruin the bird, but we’ll have plenty of sides to munch on if it isn’t great.
So my menu, traditional though it may be, is:
roasted sweet potato and butternut squash soup
wild rice salad
mashed potatoes and gravy
roasted asparagus with parmesan
cranberry chutney (I can’t find this recipe online, but it came from the November 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living)
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your birds be juicy and your desserts plentiful.