This past weekend, I hosted my 4th annual pot luck Thanksgiving dinner in honour of our American friends. But really – it was for me because I simply love Thanksgiving food. I stuffed and roasted a bird, provided plenty of the usual accoutrements: homemade cranberry sauce and gravy and even whipped up a pumpkin pie. My guests brought a smörgåsbord of side dishes, appetizers and some fantastic wines.
Appetizers included fried calamari with both marinara and tartare dipping sauces, homemade salmon gravlax with horseradish, salmon tartare and an assortment of cheeses including a wonderful maple and pecan baked brie. Side dishes were also well-balanced: mashed potatoes, green beans, sautéed swiss chard and frisée lettuce (try it, it’s amazing), beet and carrot salad, creamed spinach (with a béchamel base – to die for) and a super fresh green salad loaded with veggies and dressed with a mint and lime vinaigrette. A few thoughtful friends also brought vegetarian-friendly mains for our vegetarian friends: a stuffed tofurkey and a killer potato and tomato tart. It was my first tofurkey and I have to admit: pretty adorable! We were also treated to freshly made Hanukkah donuts for desserts!
This being the year I mastered the art of a well-cooked turkey, I wanted to share some tips with you to ensure optimal moisture levels for your Christmas birds. I had a 14 pound turkey, which I stuffed and covered with bacon. The bacon truly is the key here because it will baste the turkey throughout the roasting process and will act as armor for the breasts – so they don’t dry out.
I pre-heated the oven to 450 and turned down the heat to 350 as I put in the turkey. I left the lid of the roasting pan on for the first hour of cooking. I then removed it from the oven to baste, as I did every 20 minutes for the entire 4 hours it was in the oven. I estimated approximately 17 minutes per pound, and took the turkey out when it was golden brown. Please note cooking times can vary depending on ovens!
To spot a turkey that is done: the skin on the thighs should be golden and the meat should look like it’s pulled apart from the bone. You’ll also want to use a meat thermometer to double-check. It should be inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching bone). Then, you’ll want to let your turkey rest, covered, for a minimum of 20 minutes. I let mine rest for about an hour and it was still warm when we carved it.
Once I passed off my beautiful turkey for carving, I got started on the gravy. I had already made some gravy ahead of time, using Jamie Oliver’s foolproof and delicious recipe. I added the gravy and a cup and a half of dry white wine to the roasting pan and started scraping the burnt bits off.
I let it simmer for a few minutes, adjusted the salt, strained and served.
I hope you give this method a try. Both the bacon-covering and the extra gravy really help take the Turkey experience to the next level.
What are your tried-and-true turkey tips?