Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Countdown: Tuesday

Tuesday is when the real pre-work for the Thanksgiving feast begins. I do a lot of prepping of dishes that will need to be finished over the next few days: making stocks, custards, etc.

Here's what I worked on today:

1. Prepared the stock for the gravy.
I make my turkey gravy ahead of time, which saves a whole lot of stress on Thanksgiving morning. A lot of people marvel at that, but it's actually pretty easy. I roast some turkey necks and parts I buy frozen with some basic vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, etc.). Then, I combine them with water and white wine and cook that down into a stock. I then use the stock as a base for the gravy. It's time-consuming, but again, worth it not to have to stand over a hot stove at the last minute, frantically stirring a roux.

(And yes, I double the recipe. I like gravy.)

2. Made fresh cranberry sauce.
I use the Pioneer Woman's recipe. And yes, I still buy the stuff in the can, because some people just have to have it. But this stuff is amazing. Plus, it looks pretty packed in a Mason jar and set on the table.

3. Made custard for vanilla ice cream.
I don't really do pies (never been too good at it), and with a great bakery just down the street, why would I? I let them handle dessert, and my stress levels go down accordingly. However, good as their pumpkin pie is, it's even better with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. And since I can do it ahead of time, it's easy to add to the menu.

I made the custard tonight to chill overnight. I'll freeze the ice cream in the morning.

4. Started the turkey brine.
I brine my turkey, which makes it really moist and flavorful. I've heard brining is becoming passe, and everyone salts their turkeys now. Whatever. To me, nothing gets the kind of flavor into the meat the way brine does. I used to make my own solution, but I fell in love with Williams-Sonoma's last year. You add apple cider to the mix while the turkey brines, and then stuff the turkey cavity with apples. Heaven.

After boiling the brine, it needs to come to room temperature and then chill, so I do it the day before I want to brine the turkey (which is the day before I want to roast it). So, I did that tonight.

I also cleaned the house a bit, and made a trip to Michael's for table decorations. I got a lot accomplished, but have a long Wednesday ahead to finish everything in time.

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