November 28, 2008

a smokin' thanksgiving

This year KC and I were family-less for Thanksgiving, thus we had no one to feed our hungry bellies. So being the wonderful wife I am, I rose to the occassion and decided to make a thanksgiving spread for ourselves. Originally we had decided that since I have cooked a spiral ham before that we should probably not risk trying out a turkey and instead go for the meat that was a sure shot, the spiral ham. But after making a trip to various grocery stores, I found that buying a turkey at costco was more than half the cost of the ham. Thus my penny pincher self overruled and bought the turkey. When I got home that day, KC was really worried. I could see a bubble frame popping from his head saying "There goes my Thanksgiving...". At that point I started to ask everyone and google for tips on making the perfect turkey.

When it came down to it I followed the advice of my culinary degree holding sister, Hilary, and found the video guides on youtube for Alton Brown. Hilary had watched the episode of Good Eats, Alton's show, that taught everything on how to make the perfect turkey. She said that if I followed his guide I would be just fine. So I obeyed. Step one to the perfect turkey, Brine the turkey. If you haven't heard of brining, basically you stick the turkey in a mixture of salt, water, and sugar. Through osmosis the turkey pulls in the mixture giving it flavor and the ability to cook faster and stay moist. So 24 hours before cooking time I mixed the solution and stuck the bird in a large bucket in the fridge.

Step two, cooking the turkey. Thanksgiving morning around 11am, I pulled out the neck from the cavity, replaced it with an apple, onion, and cinnamon stick...for aroma and flavor. I then patted the bird dry and gave it a rub down of olive oil. At this point I was feeling good. My mom had said that the scariest part is defrosting the bird, if you don't keep it cold enough supposedly you can get really sick. So according to my mom the hardest part was over. Onto the easy part? Ya right. When I stuck the bird in the oven it had been preheated to 500 degrees, according to Alton's directions, and was to cook for 30 minutes. This crisps the skin and keeps the moisture inside the meat. 10 minutes in I hear sizzling, I disregard Alton's advice to not open the oven, and I checked on the turkey. The drippings were burning and putting off some smoke. I started to get nervous again, with full reason. One year my families turkey caught the stove on fire and we ended up eating at a restaurant for thanksgiving dinner. I didn't want a repeat of that. But KC didn't see too worried, so I continue to let the bird cook at 500 degrees for the next 20 minutes.

When I opened the oven, after the 30 minutes were up, to move onto step three I was greeted by a quick spreading burst of smoke. Immediately it set off our fire alarm. And no more than 30 seconds later, as we are scrambling to open the windows, we hear fire truck sirens blaring closer and closer in our direction. At this point we are running around like turkeys with their heads chopped off (sorry, I can't help it, the pun just makes it cute). I am trying to put a sweater over my cami, in case the firemen arrive at the door. KC is trying to stop the sound of the alarm by moving the fan infront of the window, blowing it out. And finally the beeping of the alarm stops. And then we wait for the firemen. But nothing. It was just a coincidence that they drove nearly up to our front door, lucky us they didn't. How embarrassing would that have been?

So after I turned down the heat, as per the instructions, the rest of the cooking went smoothly. We sat down to our meal at around 2:30. Everything turned out just great. I thought the turkey could have been a bit more moist but KC said that it was "as moist as I've ever had". And get this mom, I even made the gravy from the drippings...without lumps. Go me!

So it got a little toasted on the top, the insides were yummy...and that is all that mattered. I am very proud of myself for how well I did. I mean I cooked a turkey successfully! That is awesome! Sorry if I sound boastful or anything, I am still in shock that I accomplished this.

Here is the entire spread. well, minus about 60 additional roles, the gravy, and pie. I made everything on the table from near scratch, I used ranch dip mix for the vegetable tray and I used a jello mix. But I made the stuffing which was wonderful...we always used a box in my family so this was an exciting new treasure.

Me pointing at my fabulous feast.

Carving the turkey, kinda. We couldn't figure out the correct way, so we started to just pick and cut and the poor thing. But we got everything off, KC was a great help for this part. In our house it takes two to cut the turkey.
Well, I hope everyone had a successful and fun thanksgiving. I know that ours was great, in fact, it was one of the best thanksgivings I have had yet. I am not usually a fan of the holiday, but I think I have found out the better side to this holiday. Still, I am not sad to see it go. Let's see the real holidays begin...


  1. Gen-what a great post! First, I must say you look FABULOUS! Your hair is gorgeous-I am SO inspired to grow my hair out every time I see yours! OK-now on the topic at hand: your amazing Thanksgiving spread. What an accomplishment! I have never attempted a turkey! You are my hero. It all looks delicious and KC is more than spoiled. I sure hope he helped clean up. :) We sure missed you at our festivities and every time a penis joke came up someone mentioned how we need KC there. Miss you guys and can't wait to see you SOON!

  2. Great work, Gen! It looks wonderful. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for just Will and I also, although Will ended up finding a "stray" at the barracks that he invited over to help eat the food. Thanksgiving is good no matter who is there, as long as carry on (or START) your traditions, and you spend it with the one you love :)

  3. Way to go Gen! I haven't ever attempted a turkey on my own. And I must say that the prospect of that...kinda makes me anxious.

    Of course, the one missing KC during the penis jokes...was my husband. He was left there just offending everyone and having no one to laugh with him. He cried a little. But he'll get over it.

    Happy Thanksgiving. Great job.

    (Oh, PS...last year Patrick had to do Thanksgiving for just he and I. He let Albertsons make it. So you should really feel proud...and rub it in!!)

  4. The one time I have made a turkey was so scary to me, I was so nervous about it, so total congrats to you for making a turkey!!! (And you even had cute hair!)