Happy thanksgiving! I know, a little late, but since I was racing on thanksgiving, I decided to host it a week late. As a bonus my brother and two old team mates were in town for the Short Track Speed Skating World Cup #1.
For the first three years that I was in Calgary, I lived with my brother and we used to host big dinners all the time. Usually I would do all the cooking, and he would foot the bill for the food. We had a group of friends that always came over, and the nights usually ended in crazy games of charades, Apples to Apples or Cranium (with lots of yelling – when you get more than a couple speed skaters together it can get a little competitive!).
Instead of a really long post with all of the different dishes I made, I figured I’d do a couple different parts. First up, the main affair … the bird!
There were 13 of us, so I picked up a 15 pound turkey – there has got to be enough for leftovers! Turns out doing thanksgiving the week after is actually a genius way to save money. I think it was about half price! I’ve cooked turkeys before, but had yet to nail the thawing. The first time I spent a good hour standing in the sink running warm water in an attempt to thaw the inside! This time though it was all thawed when I took it out on Sunday morning.
Not that I’m not generally careful, but I was especially conscious of food safety while I was cooking this time. I figure that since I was feeding 1/4 of the Canadian World Cup team, it would be a good idea not to make them sick right before the competition!
On Saturday afternoon I prepped the stuffing. When browsing recipes I’d found one that had bacon in it, and of course everything is better with bacon, so I decided to encorporate it into my regular recipe. My room mate is vegetarian though so I also made oven stuffing without the bacon so that there was some for her!
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
5 slices of bacon
1/2 loaf of bread (I used whole wheat, but it doesn’t really matter)
1 tbsp dried thyme
1/2 cup apricots, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
Pepper to taste
Remove bread from bag and leave out in the air while you prepare the other ingredients. This dries the bread out a bit leaving is ready to absorb all the juices in the bird!
In a large dutch over place strips of bacon and cook at medium heat. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking. When bacon is done (between 10 and 15 minutes depending on how crispy you like your bacon) removed and place in a bowl with paper towel in the bottom. Once the bacon has cooled, remove from bowl and chop.
Without draining the dutch oven, sauté spices, carrots, celery and onion in the bacon fat until onion is translucent and carrots and celery are soft. Slice bread into small chunks and add to dutch oven. Add chopped bacon and toss it all together until the bread is well coated with the spices, fat and veggies.
This can be made the night before to save time on the day of. Simply let the stuffing cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge. However, make sure to take it out of the fridge far enough in advance that it comes to room temperature before going in the bird for cooking.
*to make stuffing vegetarian, omit the bacon and use 1/4 cup butter to sauté the vegetables. Instead of placing it in the bird, place in an oven safe dish tented with tin foil and heat in the oven for 15-20 minutes prior to eating. Don’t leave it in too long at a high temperature as it will dry out!
1 turkey (duh)
6 slices of bacon
4 cloves of garlic
First of all, follow the package directions for thawing your turkey if you buy it frozen. I allowed five hours per pound of thawing in the fridge. Keeping it in the fridge while you thaw assures that the outside doesn’t go bad while the inside is still frozen. Remove from fridge for an hour or two prior to cooking so that it doesn’t go into the oven at fridge temperature.
Remove the giblets and place in a pot (they will get used in a later post). Melt butter and rub butter and salt all over bird. If you are gentle, you can pry the skin away from the meat and rub the butter and salt under the skin as well.
Cut the strips of bacon in two and slice the garlic so that you have 12 pieces. Wrap each piece of garlic in a piece of bacon. Take a knife and slice small holes into the meat of the bird. You may have to go at funny angles because of the bird, but push a bacon wrapped garlic slice into each of the holes. This helps to flavour the meat!
Stuff the turkey full of the pre-made stuffing (if you’ve made both veg and non make sure you don’t put the vegetarian stuffing in the bird!). Tent the bird with tin foil and roast according to the package directions. I roasted for four hours at 325 degrees fahrenheit. With about 45 minutes left, remove the tinfoil so that the skin browns. The turkey should be done when the meat reaches 170 fahrenheit when a meat thermometer is jabbed into the thigh. Make sure that the thermometer is not touching the bone when you take the reading. If done, remove from oven and re-tent for between 20 and 30 minutes. You can use this time to heat the stuffing and potatoes and dress salads.
Carve and enjoy! But watch the carver…he or she may be tempted to high grade the bacon wrapped garlic!
Stay tuned for the Best Sweet Potatoes Ever and more!