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Friday, November 23, 2007

Dandy Dinde

We had a crazy crowd chez Chovy yesterday. We hosted three other young families, so there were children aged 7, 7, 5, 4, 4, 2, 2, 2, 2, and zero (yes, that means the adults were outnumbered--a childless couple did show up for desserts, which made things briefly even, at least on paper). My idea was that more guests => less for any one person to prepare, which turned out to be just right. And the kids made less chaos than I had feared (thanks to starting at a regular dinner hour, being pretty well prepared, and having a favorite movie for them to watch after they had inhaled their dinners and the adults were still eating).

I made the turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Others brought the green beans with slivered almonds, yam souffle, rolls, pecan pie, apple pie à la mode, mint brownies, fruit pizza, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Everything was delicious. We had a two-year-old table (the coffee table with kid chairs, moved into the dining room bay window--Number Two was the only toddler who actually sat and ate for any appreciable amount of time), a kid table (all boys!) in the breakfast room, and a grownup table set with my grandmother's sterling and linens.

I thought the turkey turned out fabulously well this year. I bought a natural turkey, but did absolutely nothing special to prepare it (I have a newborn, remember?), just loaded the stuffing, put it on the roasting rack and shoved it in the oven at 425° for a half-hour, then lowered the temp to 350° for most of the duration. I tried to use my oven's probe so I wouldn't have to keep checking the temperature, but had a hard time finding a good spot to stick it because (this year's big experiment) I put the turkey on the rack breast side down, AND LEFT IT THAT WAY THE WHOLE TIME. There are lots of recipes that recommend putting the turkey prone for part of the cooking time, but they all say to turn it supine at some point so it looks better. Well, I don't care what it looks like! What with resting and carving ahead of time, no one other than me and the carver sees it whole. I only care what it tastes like. So, I would say this experiment was an unqualified success. With no brining, and no basting, I had breast meat that was juicy--hooray!

The stuffing was also primo. I made a loaf of plain white bread in my bread machine (remember how trendy these used to be? now I only use it once a year), cut it into half-inch cubes, and dried it in the oven. Right before loading, I sautéed in a few tablespoons of butter a large onion and four or five ribs of celery, finely chopped, and added a lot of finely chopped herbs (a whole bunch of parsley, and fistfuls of thyme and sage from the garden) at the end. After tossing the veggies/herbs with the bread cubes, only about half of it fit in the turkey's two cavities, so the other half got tossed with two cups homemade chicken broth and put into the crock pot on low. Before serving, I mixed both parts together. Yum--the stuffing was the one dinner item I didn't parcel out to send home with the guests; I just like it too much to share.

As I mentioned, the pie crust using part leaf lard (4 T, with 6 T butter) turned out flaky and fine. I can hardly wait to use it in a crust I'll be eating right away, and not the next day. The filling was the good old stand-by, the recipe straight off the side of the Libby's can. To me, it just tastes how it oughter.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

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Blogger J.M. Tewkesbury said...

It all sounds so yummy!

I think a SFFH Thanksgiving is definitely in order!

November 23, 2007 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger ME said...

I second the motion!

I used Lara's turkey prep again. I love how it turns out, but it's a lot of work. Next year, I'll take an easier route--roast it upside down in a bag, maybe.

The kids vetoed orange mashed potatoes; 17 didn't think 14 would eat them. I was irritated with them today because they refused to eat turkey leftovers, PB&J or the frozen pizzas we got for them.

"You don't have anything like we eat at our house," they whined, but when we asked what they do eat at home, they won't say. Except for Doritos.

If we ever produce biological children together, they better not be this picky.

November 24, 2007 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Hevansrich said...

oooh that all sounds (and looks!) delicious! we just got home from a loooong drive roundtrip to Moab to spend Tgiving with a loooot of family. beautiful scenery but the fancy restaurant buffet on turkey day really isn't the same as home cookin'. and we got THREE breadmakers for our wedding ten years ago, returned two, and the remaining one has been up in the rafters since we returned from Thailand. sigh.
and ME, you could have a McDonald's in your house and teenagers would still pooh pooh it. what are ya going to do.

November 25, 2007 at 6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooeee--good thing I wasn't in your shoes, ME, as I might not have been very nice. Evil stepmother indeed.

Among the nicer things I might have said would have been, "Here's $XX. Here are directions to the grocery store. Get what you want to eat, but don't ask for more $$ if you run out before the end of your visit."

November 26, 2007 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger ME said...

It's not like we don't cater to their preferences. But when they won't eat stuff that they've eaten before, meals become a moving target.

And you're right, H. They get tired of the fast food standbys just as quickly as they do my cooking.

I admit, I have less patience with this every visit.

We've taken the older ones to the store, but that was like handing them a blank check. Next time, I'll cook some unassailable kid favorites and they'll get a "food budget" to supplement what we provide. Beyond that, they'll be spending their own money.

November 26, 2007 at 9:19 AM  

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