Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Posted by Kate at 9:49 AM
Today is prep day for the High Holy Day of the year, tomorrow. Without specifically setting it as a goal, pretty much all the dishes I am responsible for will be based heavily on foods from our own garden and a turkey produced on pasture by my farming friend. I went to pick up the bird yesterday. She said we got the prize for the largest bird - a twenty-five pounder. I'd only asked for a twenty-two pounder, but we can handle twenty-five pounds. I've just settled it into its day-long brining soak with citrus peels and herbs from our garden. Tomorrow before sending my husband (the grill master) off to my aunt's house with charcoal, the grill and the bird, I'll ice down the breast with the turkey resting breast down on a bed of ice, and a bag of ice inside the cavity resting against the underside of the breast. The leaner breast meat typically cooks faster than the legs and dries out by the time the legs are fully cooked. This chilling process evens out the cooking rate, so everything is done to perfection at the same time.
Today I will harvest and clean leeks from the garden, and a large savoy cabbage. I'll also prepare the two sauces to go with one or two of our pumpkins that I'll prepare tomorrow morning according to a favorite Afghan recipe. I like giving traditional foods a non-traditional twist. I've already begun prepping some of the stuffing ingredients; the wild rice is soaking and the fresh bread cubes have been drying in a mostly cold oven since Monday. The kitchen will be messy and occupied most of the day. I'll get the au jus gravy done today with the extra necks my friend sold me with the turkey. Since we grill the bird, we don't get any pan drippings on which to build a gravy, so this extra step is necessary. But grilling is the way we go since it not only produces such a delicious, moist bird, but it also frees up the oven for all the other dishes that need to be made at the same time. And yes, we checked to see if a 25-pound turkey fits on our Weber grill. It does.
Tomorrow we'll sit down to a table with twenty-one of my kith and kin. Aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, in-laws, and now the small children of my cousins. I come from a family of excellent cooks and appetites to match. The spread will be impressive. After the mid-afternoon meal, and kitchen cleanup, many of us will bring out our bags of change and play poker. Others will chat or nap on the couch. Someone will keep the woodstove going all afternoon into the evening. We have much to be thankful for this year.
I might snap a picture of the bird on the grill to post about later on, or perhaps a shot of all the dishes lined up. But I don't expect to post anything tomorrow. To all of my American readers, I wish you a gloriously abundant Thanksgiving feast. To those of you visiting from farther away, I wish you the essence of the season: a sense of deeply knit community, food a'plenty to share, and a spirit of gratitude for all that is good in your lives. 8E9CWBS3MD88