Chez Madeleine

Friday, November 24, 2006

friends are the family you choose

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Yesterday I accomplished two significant "firsts" in my life.

1. I ran a half marathon
2. I cooked a turkey!

Guess which one was more exciting?

Since this is a food blog and not a running blog, I won't bore you with the details of my little jaunt down Peachtree, but suffice it to say it was greuling, challenging, but also very rewarding.

When I finally got back to my place over two hours after the finish (walking, Marta, driving took a while), it was all I could do to not take a shower sitting down. Every part of me hurt, and I was so exhausted I found it difficult to even speak. I laid down on the couch and pretty much decided that this thanksgiving was going to be vegetarian. There was no way I could make a turkey when I couldn't even walk to my bed which is two feet away. I would either disinvite everyone, serve them a plate without turkey, or try to switch the whole thing to Friday.

But then tradition and culinary ambition got the better of me. I slept for a few hours and woke up ready to tackle the challenge. I hadn't been very good about getting instructions on the whole process, but I figured I could master it. So-a few notes about what I did (the results were excellent!):

1. I did stuff the cavity with lemon wedges, garlic, and bunches of herbs

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2. I did not brine my turkey.
3. I did chop all of the herbs in my herb garden (sage, thyme, parsley, basil) and mix it with half-way melted butter and rub that stuff under the skin and all over the turkey.
4. I did not use a rack-just sprinked a few onions in the pan.

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5. I did cover the breast with foil for the first half of cooking.
and what I believe to have been the most important step:
6. I removed the bird from the oven when the temperature in the thigh was 170. I then let the turkey rest for about two hours before I carved it.

The result was succulent--truly moist and flavorful turkey.

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I also made gravy from scratch. I put my Le Creuset roasting pan over two burners and scraped up all of the good bits and put the drippings into a cup and skimmed off the fat. I added chicken stock to compensate for my lack of juices (I only had about 2 cups as opposed to 4), and then added it to a simple roux. The gravy rocked--smooth as silk.

So, the full menu was:

Lemon-herb roasted turkey
turkey gravy
Curried Prawns with rice (courtesy of An'del)
Pecan & Cornbread Dressing (from Scott Peacock)
Sweet Potato Souffle
Prosciuitto & Parmesan Mashed Potatos (Kathleen made these--to die for!)
Green beans with a lemon vinaigrette and pine nuts
Tres Leches Cake (Kathleen again! She's the best)
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes (Paula Deen)

I set the table:

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Personalized my guest's napkin ring holders:

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Carved the turkey:

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snapped a photo of An'del's plate:

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and enjoyed my first thanksgiving with friends:

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I'm thankful for everyone who reads my blog. Thank you for supporting me and listening to my ramblings about food. I hope your thanksgivings were filled with friends, family, great food and memory-making moments. I am so thankful for each of you.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Carl Pearse said...

Sarah,
I am really pleased that you have conquered the distance run challenge, another thing you propbably never thought you would do which falls by the wayside. I am also pleased that you have started your own turkeyday traditions and I am thankful for the wonderful friends you have invited into your life and who enrich your experience there. Mostly, I'm proud of you...Dad

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sar-
What a beautiful table and equally beautiful chef!
I see that Miss Madeleine had to be part of the party too.
Congrats on the run. Wish I had been there to cheer you on.
Have a restful weekend..you desrve it!
Love, Mom

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, great job on the half marathon. That too, is a goal of mine... I'll get there. I feel privileged to be commenting next to mom and dad... Though I loved seeing my family(x3) and friends over thxgiving, I wish you would have made our meal... see you soon.

1:45 AM  

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