December 1, 2010

Turkey Day 2010

This might actually be the first time that "Turkey Day" is an appropriate name for my Thanksgiving, although I am deeply disappointed at my first turkey. In fact, I'm so disappointed at my dry turkey, I don't know if I will have the motivation to try again in the future. I brined, I buttered, and I labored, but my 10lb petite turkey still turned out like chopped winter skin. I checked the internal temperature around 2 hrs, and its fat little thigh registered at 153 *F of unsafetyness. I let it roasted for another 45 minutes but covered the white meat part with Alton Brown's aluminum turkey simply was not a good turkey day in terms of turkey for me.

The rest of my dishes fared better. I made ahead several dishes-- cranberry sauce, gravy, green bean casserole with homemade cream of mushroom, and tiramisu. And the day before I decided that a Thanksgiving is not completed without stuffing, so I squeeze that in my already overwhelming menu... it even inadvertently got left out of the menu list! I also added another unplanned pasta dish, Cacio e Pepe, because my mom was worried we wouldn't have enough food and I had lots of pecorino romano left in the fridge. Despite so many dishes were made ahead of time, the day-of was still super hectic and I literally finished everything around 5:30 pm.

I did made several mistakes with the planning and timing. I made the stuffing the day before, so I had to reheat it in the oven, and that really dried out the moisture in my stuffing. The biggest mistake, however, was not heating my tomalito, which was made on the morning of. Since we were blessed with super cold weather that day, my tomalito was as good as if it had been the fridge for hours.Needless to say, it was not very well received at the dinner table. It did make very nice left over food for the two days following.

Here's a list of superlatives:

Most well-received dish: Green bean casserole. Everyone loved this dish, especially my aunt. The original recipe called for a campbell can of cream of mushroom soup, but being me I could not use a can in a homemade dish! I opted for Ina Garten's cream of mushroom recipe, and it was superb. I made it the day before and had it that evening immediately as a soup, and absolutely loved it. Great mushroom soup makes a great bean casserole.

The dish I was most excited to make: San Marzano tomato vodka sauce
The recipe called for canned peeled plum tomato, but for the reason above, I had to use fresh tomatoes. I was so happy to find fresh San Marzano tomato (expensive!) at the weekend's farmer's market. San Marzano tomato supposedly makes the best tomato sauce. The name San Marzano comes from a little town by Napoli, although I highly doubt the ones I bought were Napoli-import, they were satisfactory to me. I was a bit disappointed that this dish wasn't very well received by my guests, but was also very glad to have so much left over the next day. My family devoured the dish entirely the next day.

The most restaurant quality dish: Butternut squash bisque. (no cream cheese needed) I would say all my dishs minus dry turkey were restaurant quality, but this soup was particularly so. Unfortunately amidst the crazyness that day, i forgot to take a picture of it, so all you can see is the leftover here. My cousin Edward loved it and loved it more with my homemade bread.

The dish I will most likely to make again and again: Asian Chicken Salad. You have to try it!

Most disappointed dish: Turkey.

One more to round up this post, I can't wait to do a more intimate Christmas dinner in a month's time: Mom feeding Ruthie before the feast.

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