Burr, it's going to get cold out there this weekend and last year's pull-over hooded jacket has shown up on its nail in the den as usual this time of year. It is November already, I've barely had time to even think about Christmas shopping and it's just six weeks away. Guess the holiday's hustle and bustle has begun! Are you ready for a huge Thanksgiving Meal? My meal might merge with Christmas Eve's this year as fast as things are moving and it's a total wonder we aren't seeing Valentine's Day candy already showing up on store shelves. Geez, let's slow it down a little people and take time to inhale before it's all gone and just a faint memory.
This should be a good week for some extra rest and relaxation, and a coat. Before we go and notice that brood of frozen turkeys lurking in that mid-aisle freezer at our local grocer, rest might be a good thing. It's going to be down in the 20's again tonight and those gobblers are already peering up from their freeze no doubt, just ready for the picking and knowing it's time. The sales have already begun for dressing ingredients, cranberries and such, so an excursion to Publix or a trip to our local Kroger might be the thing to do this weekend. That last minute rush can hit like a bunch of fire ants running up a trouser leg. Not to mention those Black Friday sale advertisements are already inserted in Sunday's paper, so the rush is starting to churn a little. I'll be sitting home that day eating a turkey sandwich with leftover cranberry sauce and dressing, no way I'm leaving the house. You won't find me in that madness regardless of price! Okay, I will confess, I will be looking for good deals online that day, but definitely not on the roads or playing tackle the man with the latest cologne at Dillard's. You could bet on that for sure!
While we are talking turkey, I guess it's time to start thinking about the thaw of one. The best way to handle that is to remove it from its freeze spot and start the thaw in the fridge about 1 day thawing per 4-5 pounds of the bird, so a 20lb. gobbler will take about 5 days to thaw and 6 days wouldn't hurt it. To finish it up thawing in the center, you can stick it in the sink and run a slow stream of a cold water bath over it. As it bathes above the sink stopper, be sure to cut the water off before you flood the kitchen. Unlike me, almost flooding the whole house, before I remembered. I ended up with a shop-vacuum that day, sucking water up on the hall carpet. I mean, having to multitask in the kitchen is one thing, but bathing while cooking can be dangerous.
Cooking that bird is a whole different experience for first timers and can be tricky for the pros. A good rule is to slow roast a 16 to 22 lb turkey about 4 hours and a stuffed bird about 5, either one at 325 degrees. However, as long as a thermometer inserted between the leg and breast or the center of the turkey reads 170 degrees your safe. Just be sure to butter or oil and season it, even under its skin if you like. The flavors of thyme, sage, salt and pepper should compliment a turkey well. I would also cover it for the first couple of hours with foil so it don't get too dark on top.
Deep fried turkeys are good, the last one I had was very moist. Deep frying them kind of seals those juices in and is great, but caution and safety is a must when dealing with a scared turkey in a large pot of hot oil. "Just Saying!"
Here are a few side dish recipes for consideration; hopefully I can get some Holiday desserts posted before "Turkey Day" actually gets here. I do hope everyone has a very "Happy Thanksgiving", and be safe out there. Things can get a little wild with all the travel and shopping.
I've been making roasted pears for years now, mostly in Country Club settings. They go well by themselves or on top a mixed green salad with a light vinaigrette. I have garnished this dish with everything from pistachio, pecan, dried cranberry crumbles to orange zest and walnuts. I've also brushed them with a little brandy and baked them. Yum!
4 pears, such as Bartlett, halved and cored
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons fresh rosemary, stems removed, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, lightly sprinkled to taste
Manchego cheese, (optional) NOTE: Parmesan cheese can be used with the omission of the sea salt, but the Manchego is best and can be possibly found in the specialty food section...A good blue cheese like Maytag or Stilton also compliments pears, again they also are a salt added addition.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl add the melted butter, brown sugar, and rosemary, whisk to combine. Place pears cut side up on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish, brush all sides with butter mixture, season with the salt and pepper and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer to a serving dish or use atop a mixed greens salad.
Me and my mother both love turnips any way you make them, especially around the Holidays. I try to leave a few options open for recipes if you'll notice the rutabagas in this one. Traditional and new recipe ideas are both good eats this time of year.
2 1/2 pounds small turnips or 2 large rutabagas, trimmed
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter
zest from 1 lemon, about 2 teaspoons (optional)
fresh parsley, chopped, (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut turnips in half or quarters, depending on size or cut 1 1/2 dice if the larger rutabagas, In a large bowl add the two tablespoon of melted butter and turnips, season with salt and pepper, toss to coat.
Transfer to large baking dish or roasting pan. Add the vinegar and enough water to a depth of about 1/4 inch in pan, roast until most liquid is evaporated and some browning occurs tossing on occasion (about 45 minutes to an hour) or until tender. Drain and transfer to a clean large bowl and gently toss with honey and remaining butter.
Serve warm with a lemon zest and parsley garnish.