Thanksgiving pundits would have us believe that roasting a turkey and preparing the feast is a task so monumental that it approaches piercing the seventh veil. The truth is: Be organized, calm and it will all work.
The Thanksgiving turkey rush is in high gear as that fateful day looms. The stores are packed with shoppers and displays of late fall plumage and holiday festivity. Hannaford looked like a mass convening on Tuesday afternoon. Trader Joe’s parking lot was more maddening than ever. And as for the inimitable Portland Whole Foods, they were the epitome of organization as people waited on line to pick up their turkeys listed on a computer screen. Incidentally, our neighborhood Whole Foods was so crowded on Tuesday that it will probably surpass their legendary $1 million-plus proceeds in a day.
Each year the hyperbolic do’s and don’ts of how to roast a turkey and manage the entire kerfuffle gets so much air time, print time and cyber space as though it were a blow-by-blow narration on brain surgery. But really what are we doing differently? If you approach it as just another roast bird that’s somewhat bigger than the average chicken (OK, it’s a lot bigger) then you won’t get so stressed out.
Still, hotlines have been set up, food shops are out of instant-read thermometers and appearances on TV by the likes of glue-gun-wielding Martha Stewart have assured us all that her Thanksgiving feast for 35 will come off perfectly (you can bet she has a little bit of help in the kitchen).
I don’t have many tips except for one — how to keep the breast meat moist. Here’s what I do: I soak a large piece of cheesecloth in about one stick of butter and drape it over the turkey breast, which along with the rest of the bird I’ve rubbed all over with softened butter. Over the cheesecloth I lay strips of fatty bacon. Baste the top as you would the rest of the turkey carcass. About 45 minutes before the turkey is done, remove the cheesecloth and bacon carefully, baste the bird and continue to roast until the breast skin is browned and the turkey has reached the right temperature (about 165 degrees for breast meat).
As promised in yesterday’s The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie, here are the two additional pumpkin pie recipes that were discussed in yesterday’s post on family heirloom recipes.
Granny Gladys Gilbert’s Pumpkin Pie
Ms. Gilbert suggest that you can also use squash instead of pumpkin
Servings 6 to 8
Pastry dough for single crust 9-inch pie, unbaked
1 pound of well beaten pumpkin or squash (see Note below)
1/1/2 cups whole milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Mix into the pumpkin puree. Add the milk and the beaten eggs. Stir well. Pour into the pie shell.
Bake for 15 minutes then lower the heat to 375 and continue to bake for 50 minutes or until the filling is set. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Great Granny Oressa Kaulback’s Pumpkin Pie
Servings: 6 to 8
1 pound mashed and pureed pumpkin (2 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk or substitute 6 ounces milk and 6 ounces heavy cream mixed.
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Mix all ingredients together. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until filling is set. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Note: See The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie for how to roast and puree pumpkin flesh