My Very First Thanksgiving Dinner: Part 2

Now it’s time to talk about the star of the show: The Turkey! I was pretty nervous about making the turkey because there is so much time involved and it can go bad quickly. But I thought I would go for it! I bought a smaller turkey because there was only 4 of us and I didn’t want a lot of leftovers. This size was absolutely perfect, just enough leftovers! I bought a Butterball 9 lb. turkey, it was so convenient because all of the insides were already out in a separate bag and it was easy to open. I took a recipe off of Martha Stewart website and it had some great instructions on how to make a good turkey. Since I had a smaller size turkey than the one on the website, I looked up the Butterball website and they suggested 2.5-3.5 hrs of cooking time.

Step 1: Rinse the turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature. Warm the butter and white wine together and soak a large piece of cheesecloth in it. Pour the peppercorns and coarse salt to season the bird.

Step 2: Place your oven rack on lowest level and heat to 425 degrees. Tuck the wing tips under the body of the bird, and place turkey breast-side-up in a roasting pan. Season the inside of bird with salt and pepper. If your turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it; an instant-read thermometer is a much better indication of doneness.

Step 3: Start making your gravy stock. Use the giblets (liver, heart, and gizzard), neck, vegetables, and seasoning to make your gravy stock. Melt your butter in a saucepan, add the onion, celery, and carrots to the pot. Stir until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Add  2 cups water, 2 cups of chicken broth, bay leaf, gizzard, heart, and neck (do not add liver; it needs to be cooked separately or it makes the stock bitter). Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, or until gizzard is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Step 4: Insert the stuffing (uncooked) into the bird, don’t forget to fill the neck portion. Do not stuff too tightly, or bacteria may grown due to under-cooking.

Step 5: Pull the flap of the neck skin down and pierce toothpicks to connect to the body to keep the stuffing intact.

Step 6: Cover the turkey with cheesecloth that has been soaking in the butter and wine. It should cover the breast and part of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, then brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey parts with butter mixture and reduce temperature to 350 degrees. You do not want to take the turkey out to do this, leave it in the oven while basting and do it as quickly as possible to keep heat inside the oven.

Step 7: While your turkey is roasting, now is a good time to prepare the stock. Coarsely mince your liver and sautee in a pan with butter on med-low heat for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside. By this time your broth should be done simmering, strain the broth. Chop gizzard and heart very fine and add to strained broth along with chopped liver. Pick meat off neck and add to broth. Set aside until needed for the gravy.

Step 8: Continue to baste every 30 minutes, after an hour and a half (2 hrs if the turkey is larger) take the cheesecloth off the turkey and baste again. If you have a shallower roasting pan, check your drippings and make sure it doesn’t overflow out into the oven, collect them in a bowl and set aside. If you guesstimate right, now would be a good time to add your stuffing and green bean casserole into the oven.

Step 9: After another half hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone; when the temperature reaches 165 degrees, the bird is ready. My turkey took a total of 3 hrs to cook and reach 165 degrees.

Step 10: Once the turkey is done, place it on a separate platter to cool, you want to wait 20 minutes before carving. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat and add a cup of dry white wine; bring to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the brown bits. Add giblet stock, return to a boil, and cook until reduced by half. Strain everything and place into a gravy boat for serving. ( I ended up adding a little bit of flour to thicken up the gravy a bit.)

Your turkey is done!! I waited until the end to start  making my mashed potatoes because they are easy peasy. Rinse, peel, and roughly chop your potatoes. Boil the taters for 10-15 minutes or until soft.

Mix the butter, sour cream, cream cheese, salt, pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, and milk with the potatoes. My electric mixer did wonders for me on this one, it took a good amount of time to mix these until they were nice and creamy. I think the cream cheese is what made these so good! They were a definite hit at the dinner table.

Last but not least, the pie! I got this recipe from my soon to be mother in-law. I had the idea to take my autumn leaf cookie cutters and use the second roll of dough to cut them out and place on top of the pie. Although a little uneven, I thought it turned out great!

In an electric mixer, mix the pumpkin, half&half, eggs, sugar, sour cream, molasses, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, vanilla, and salt. Mix until blended evenly. I was a little skeptical at first because the mixture looked so liquidy, but it turned out great and thickened up in the oven.

Pre-heat the oven to 425. I bought Pillsbury dough because I love it and I honestly didn’t feel like making my own dough. Place the first dough into the bottom of the pan, pour the batter evenly over the dough. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350. Once the dough is brown, take pieces of aluminum foil and cover the crust with it so it doesn’t burn. Bake for another 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted through comes out clean. I waited until the last 10 minutes and placed the cookie cutter dough on top, brushed the top of each with some butter to make it golden brown. Once it’s done, take it out of the oven to cool.

Take a dollop of cool whip and sprinkle a bit of pumpkin pie spice, and voila! You have yourself a beautiful, rich tasty pie 🙂

Here is a glimpse of my day and good company that I had! I also somehow found time to give my friend a mo-hawk, like I said I don’t know how but I did it! My house is still standing and the food was not burnt. A good first Thanksgiving indeed 🙂

What you’ll need:

For the Turkey:

about 1 cup of dry white wine
1/2 stick of butter,  melted
pepper corns
coarse salt
cheese cloth
basting brush
roasting pan

For the Gravy Stock:

Giblets (heart, gizzard, and liver) and neck, reserved from turkey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 rib celery with leaves, stalk cut into 1/4-inch cubes, leaves roughly chopped
2 whole carrots, peeled and washed, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dried bay leaf

For the Mashed Potatoes:

5 lbs golden Idaho potatoes
4oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup whole milk
3 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
garlic salt
onion powder

For the Pumpkin Pie:

package of Pilsbury (or your fav. brand) of pie crust
1 can pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cup half&half
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each of ground nutmeg, salt, ginger, and vanilla
1/4 tsp ground cloves
whipping cream
autumn leaf cookie cutter


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