Thursday, November 24, 2011

simple roasted turkey

The turkey is in the oven and smells delightful.  Last year our turkey turned out so moist and absolutely delicious that I decided to use the same recipe from Real Simple.  I have to be honest- I haven't always cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving.  My husband and I have never been fans of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner so we've done our own thing which sometimes didn't include stuffing, mashed potatoes or corn.  In fact after I bought our turkey this year my husband and kids were trying to get me to make tacos this year instead.  I said no way- last year's turkey had me looking forward to turkey all year so turkey it is.  What's nice about keeping it small (Auntie Karen is our only guest!) is that we can have whatever we want.  We don't have to have yams with marshmallows on top if we don't want to.

roasted turkey with gravy
mashed potatoes
swiss green beans
buttered peas (we have to have peas!)
greens with blue cheese, cranberries and pecans 
dinner rolls
pumpkin cornmeal muffins
cranberry fluff
candy corn coolers
pumpkin pie
dutch apple pie
pumpkin fudge

Story- I was in charge of a Thanksgiving dinner for the "over 50" group in our ward in the first year my husband and I were married.  I handed out recipes except for the sweet potatoes/yams.  As you can assume they came back in casserole dishes with marshmallows on top.  My husband looked at them and whispered in my ear, "Are those marshmallows?  What are they doing in the yams?"  He was serious.  He had never seen that before.  EVER.  I still find it hard to believe but he's a pretty honest guy so I'm forced to believe him.

simple roasted turkey (adapted from Real Simple
12 pound turkey, thawed if frozen
12 sprigs fresh thyme
3 large onions, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
kosher salt
2 pounds baby carrots
4 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
bag for cooking a turkey

Heat the oven to 375.  Working on a baking sheet, remove the giblets and neck from the cavity.  Discard.  Using a paper towel, pat the turkey dry of juices.  Stuff with thyme and half the onions.
Rub the turkey all over with the butter and season with salt, making sure to reach the crevices of the legs and wings. 
Place the turkey in the bag and place it in a disposable turkey pan.  Fill the turkey bag with the rest of the vegetables and extra thyme if desired.  Tie the bag.
Follow the cooking directions on the box that came with the turkey bag (for me it meant cooking the turkey for 4+ hours). 
Tilt the turkey to empty the juices into a saucepan.  Transfer the turkey to a carving board, tent with foil and let rest for at least 25 minutes.  Reserve the pan and its contents for basic gravy.

basic gravy  (adapted from Real Simple)
4 cups turkey broth from turkey drippings
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper

Remove the vegetables from the roasting pan and reserve to eat with the turkey.  Carefully strain the pan juices into a large fat separator.  Let stand 5 minutes, allowing the fat to rise to the top.   Pour the juices into a large measuring cup, leaving the fat behind.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the butter and flour to create a roux.  Cook the roux, whisking frequently until deep brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  The darker the roux the richer the flavor.  Whisk in the 4 cups of liquid and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Season the gravy with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Strain just before serving if necessary.

What I have to say- our family loves lots of vegetables so I changed the amounts for those.  What's great about the turkey bag is you will not have to worry about the turkey or vegetables burning.  This is an EASY way to cook your turkey.  This is another slight variation from the original recipe.

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