Stubborn is as stubborn does, yes? This year, unlike Thanksgivings past, I was not tasked with making the turkey for my family dinner. But I’ll be damned if anything is going to stand between me and making my own turkey, even if means resorting to buying a 20+ lb. turkey and roasting it all for just me… along with all the trimmings. Well, enough of them for a girl who lives alone with her teeny tiny dog that isn’t allowed people food…
First up, sweet potato fries the way Aimee showed me in NC. In fact, I used the sweet potatoes I bought in NC (yes, they were still good). Unfortunately I must’ve used a bit more olive oil than she did, since mine were softer… not quite as ‘dry’ either. On the side for dipping, maple aioli – maple syrup mixed into mayo. I was going to make my own mayo, but then I got flustered on the day and just finished my jar of Hellmann’s.
My glorious turkey with roaster borrowed from DLS! Here’s a couple of confessions: last year, I wrote out a detailed post with all the recipes and instructions for me to follow this year. However, I managed to completely forget about that, so I went in with just my normal thoughts in my head and failed to use my notes from last year. Also, I’ve never cooked such a large bird – I aim for 12-16 lbs. every year – and I’m not sure if it was using a different roasting pan or just the larger bird, the longer brining time I wound up with out of necessity… whatever it was, the bird cooked rather unevenly, with slightly overcooked and dry breast meat and slightly undercooked and pink dark meat. Disappointing since the entire bird is mine to eat and work through all the leftovers… I did, however, take my time and slice all of the white meat up very evenly, so that was at least one win. And I shared a lot of the white meat with people because I’m nice like that.
First up: collard mashed potatoes. I was originally going to make mashed potatoes and creamed collards separately, but I decided I didn’t need that many side dishes. Because I’m lazy, I just boiled the washed/cleaned but whole collards in the pot with my potatoes, then drained those while I peeled the hot potatoes by hand. When the potatoes were semi mashed, I used scissors and snipped in chunks of the collards, then mashed them all around together with sour cream, cream, salt, butter, pepper.
Oh, and this year, I broke my one handed pepper mill. Last year, I broke my salt cellar spoon (and cried). This year I broke the pepper mill, cursed, and grabbed the backup pepper mill. It took me 15 minutes to open the cabinet again and stare, and wonder “Why do I have a backup pepper mill?” It’s like I KNEW.
Roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and garlic – I know some people think the brussels sprouts don’t need bacon – and they don’t need it – but I like it. So I use it. It’s not like I put bacon on my turkey… 😉 Anyway, I cut the bacon into lardons, render all the fat from it and scoop the lardons out with a slotted spoon, draining on a paper towel. The bacon fat in the bottom of the pan gets tossed with cleaned/halved brussels sprouts, along with salt/pepper and a handful of cloves of peeled garlic (sometimes a whole head, depends on my mood), then roasted at 350 until they look a bit charred. So good.
I could never make a turkey – even when I’m at the top of my game and my turkey is too moist to stand – without making giblet gravy. I make it extra special – something about that flavor combination just makes me so happy! Definitely mushrooms, poultry seasoning, and extra salty the way I like it… oh my!
I also made a big tray of mac&cheese because my family never makes this and I like it. While I followed a similar method to Hungry’s way, I made one giant misstep and cooked the pasta perfectly al dente… which meant it overcooked when I baked it. Dammit. Otherwise, my addition of mustard powder and Sriracha to the cheese sauce (yep! I did!) was really fantastically tasty, just that the pasta became unbearably mushy. Ugh. Boo me.
Last but not least, I’m rather proud of my idea this year. I love my stuffing almost as much as I love my gravy – maybe more. One of the things I frequently do is take leftover stuffing and fry it, then top it with a poached or sunny side up egg, or eat it in a sandwich (with gravy, cranberry sauce, turkey, etc.). To make it easier to slice it for frying, I baked it in a loaf pan. I AM A GENIUS, that’s how well this worked. I will forever do this!!! I used my standard recipe with sausage, onion, bread, crackers, broth, an egg, celery, poultry seasoning, sage, delicious. SO GOOD.
Here is my first plate of deliciousness. Even with the slightly dry turkey breast, it was delicious, lovely, I was one happy girl.
Then I spent a few weeks eating the leftovers in many iterations. Sandwiches, gravy bowls, creamy stews, tomato-y stews, salad (with cranberry mustard, apple, mayo and lemon juice), just any which way I could put together. Thank goodness for friends who help me eat when I cook way too much…
How was your Thanksgiving?