Yes, the grand feast is over, and now we are faced with a week’s worth of leftovers. Even now I sit here, slightly stunned by a third-day helping of turkey ‘n’ fixin’s. All the same, I’m sharing some of the photos of our fantastic feast.
As usual, the highlight of the dinner was a locally raised heritage breed turkey. Specifically, one of these.
“Lola,” as Carl decided its name should be, lived a carefree outdoor life until Monday. We met Lola Tuesday afternoon, after feathers had been exchanged for chic transparent plastic.
Hello, darling, welcome to our kitchen.
Lola weighed a hefty 20 pounds, and was probably a tom. Which makes the name lots of fun, if you are familiar with the old song by The Kinks.
Well I'm not the world’s most masculine man
But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man
And so is Lola
Normally Lola would have gotten a long, cold soak in a brine solution, but Miss Chef had to teach on Wednesday and didn’t have time to deal with Lola. It wasn’t until Thursday morning that she started to break down the bird.
Here’s how she removes a whole breast (not for vegetarian eyes).
And a leg quarter.
Wait just a minute, you may be thinking. That turkey’s RAW! Ah, very perceptive, Grasshopper. A few years ago, we moved away from the traditional whole-roasted bird. Not that Miss Chef can’t pull it off (of course she can!), but it just doesn’t make culinary sense to cook the white meat and dark meat together, since they have to reach two completely different temperatures. This was especially true with a free-range heritage bird that wasn’t brined. Free-range birds tend to be a bit leaner and tougher, and without a brine to help retain the juices, the breast meat would have been pretty yucky by the time the legs were done.
Never fear, Miss Chef knew just how to handle it. First, since there were only five at our feast, one breast and one thigh went into the freezer. Then the other breast was seasoned and roasted. The rest of the dark meat went here…
…to be braised in a seasoned stock. This ended up looking like pulled turkey, all luscious bits and pieces.
Once the turkey was taken care of, Miss Chef and her chef friend Maria, got to work on the sides.
In front we have Maria’s succotash, a small pan of corn and the potatoes for mashing. In back is about a quart of braising stock being turned into gravy, another small pan of peas with pearl onions, and the stock pot where the remaining turkey carcass is being turned into stock.
Then there was some action going on in the oven.
On top is the dressing (obviously, no way to stuff the bird, so this was moistened with stock). Middle shelf has beets roasting and Miss Chef’s “I hope I’m remembering this right” green bean casserole. The bottom sheet rack is two kinds of sweet potatoes—white and purple—and some carrots. I should point out the beets, sweet potatoes and carrots were all purchased from the growers at the farmers’ market.
Of course it took hours and hours to bring the feast together. I tried to stay out of the kitchen—it’s pretty small, and two chefs seemed like plenty. I did a few dishes, got the table set, and eventually enjoyed the cheese tray Miss Chef set out to keep me happy.
The crockpot has mulled cider that we got from Skytop Orchard last month. The flowers Mom cut from my front bed. Yes, we still have a few summer flowers blooming here! Galliardia and brown-eyed susans have been big winners in my perennial beds.
Finally, the feast was ready! Behold the shortcomings of the panorama format!
Sadly, I didn’t notice the turkey was still covered in foil until much later, so you don’t get to see the luscious Lola. But you can see the rest—including the double-exposed green-bean casserole. Besides the dishes mentioned above, there are also brussels sprouts and homemade cranberry sauce.
And that, my friends, is how two chefs do Thanksgiving.
And this is how we did our Black Friday shopping.
Oh, and I put seven quarts of turkey stock in the freezer today. Thanks again, Lola.