But the food was fantastic. I will be hunting a few people down for their recipes (sweet potato casserole with butter and brown sugar on top - yes please!), and loved cooking with the gals. [And honestly, if the women cooking in the kitchen while the men drink beer and watch football doesn't remind me of a classic Thanksgiving, I don't know what does!]
And yes, the turkey came out OK too. If you may recall from Friday's post, I bought a pre-brined 24 pound turkey from Trader Joe's. I patted the whole thing down with paper towels, stuffed it with onions, garlic and lemons, and then rubbed it down with an olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme (fresh) and rosemary (fresh) mixture (thank you Chef Matt for this advice!!). I cooked it for 4.5 hours, and then checked it for done-ness by inserting a poultry thermometer into the meatiest section of the bird. It was only 165 degrees, so I put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so until it was slightly over my target temperature of 170 degrees.
The result? Fairly decent and pretty standard. I feel like I should have just proceeded with the delicious-looking brine recipe that I wanted to try. The meat was still a little dry, and I was hoping for a really moist bird. Next time I try this (oh yes, there will be a next time!) I'll brine the bird myself.
The gravy came out pretty well. Following my Mom's advice, I did use the drippings from the turkey (some people say that the drippings from a brined turkey are too salty for gravy, but it worked well for me). I combined about a 1/2 cup of corn starch (you can use flour too) and a cup of cold water in a bowl, and the whisked until it was mixed very well. Meanwhile, my friend Lisa had the genius idea of putting the tray from the turkey (with all the drippings) on top of two burners and heating them up until the drippings were boiling. We whisked the drippings while slowly adding the corn starch/water mixture. Because this was such a large bird, we needed an additional 1/4 cup corn starch and 1/2 cup of water to turn the drippings into gravy, but you just have to add it slowly (while whisking) until it looks right to you.
This picture makes it look like I was making the gravy alone, but it was definitely a joint effort between Lisa and I.
Also, I really really liked the way that Nikki decorated her dining room table, and thought I'd pass on the idea. She put lemons, limes and apples into these glass containers, and it looked so bright and festive.
Best part of all? There ended up being a lot of turkey left over, so Tom and I will be eating turkey sandwiches for a week.