“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. In our mad rush for progress and modern improvements let's be sure we take along with us all the old-fashioned things worth while.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Many Hands Give Thanks

Photo by:  Mrs. Mac
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the States.  We celebrated with a big feast prepared at our home.  Ann spent last night here so she could get up very early to help with the cooking.  It pleases me to no end that she wants to know how to take over the job of making her great grandma Donna's bread stuffing, make the mashed potatoes, see how to roast the turkey and set a proper table for such a special occasion.  I can imagine that one day we will be eating a fine dinner at her future home.

This year I used the convection bake setting for roasting the 20 pound turkey.  It came out perfectly cooked in 3 hours 45 minutes.  Earlier in the week I had baked four loaves of bread; two for the stuffing and two for turkey sandwiches.  The turkey carcass is in the largest stock pot and will simmer 12 hours on low.  Tomorrow I'll strain the broth and put it in jars for the freezer and de-bone the meat for soups and casseroles.  Nothing will go to waste.

Here is my recipe for Turkey Gravy:

The day before cooking, remove the neck and giblets from the turkey cavity.  Rinse placing in a medium sauce pan adding water just to cover; place lid on pan and simmer for 3 to 4 hours.  Let broth cool, strain and skim off the fat in a fat separator.  Put broth in a quart size mason jar and refrigerate when cooled.  Finely chop about 1-2 tablespoons of the liver to add to the finished gravy (optional).  Save the neck to add to with the turkey carcass for making stock after dinner or the next day.  I chopped up the remaining liver and the heart for dog treats.

Good gravy comes from the roasting pan drippings.  Prior to roasting the turkey, add whole sliced rings of a large yellow onion, including the skin, two large carrots, and two stalks of celery to the roasting pan.  Put the turkey in the pan (I used a rack) and add two cups of water, chicken broth or wine, and roast as directed, adding more liquid as needed.  Always let the turkey rest tented with foil out of the oven for 30-45 minutes.  Place tented turkey on cutting board.  Strain the pan drippings in a fat separator.  Discard the onion, carrots and celery.  Put the roasting pan on top of one or two burners (assuming that your pan can be used on the stove top).  De-glaze the pan by adding some of the prepared stock then add the defatted pan drippings.  Place 1/2 cup of flour in a quart mason jar and fill with water.  Shake well.  Slowly add about 1/3 to 1/2 to the roasting pan (strain first if lumpy).  Stirring with a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits and mix the flour/water mixture into the pan until thick and bubble.   Add more turkey stock and or flour mixture or water if needed.  Check for salt and add if necessary.  Cook until bubbly and thickened.  Strain the gravy one last time through a sieve/wire mesh strainer.  Add the minced liver if desired. 

By making the stock the day before, it saves a few steps when you're trying to get dinner served.  Homemade gravy can't be beat!

How much of your Thanksgiving meal is prepared ahead of time?


Felisol said...

This must be the most difficult meal ever to prepare.
I envy tour Thanksgiving, but am sweating by the thought of the making all that food.
The gravy is made pretty much like my mother used to make sauce either to roasted lamb or pork.
I am a lumpy person, and buy my way out of it.
This year Serina will prepare Christmas dinner for our family the old fashioned way. She's watched her grandma do it over and over again most of her life.
I'm so looking forwards to that.

Mrs. Mac said...

Dear Felisol .. It is good to know that Serina is carrying on her grandmother's traditions of cooking. I find assigning everybody a job helps greatly .. and making as much in advance a day or two prior. Even little ones can help by setting the table or peeling potatoes. I am sure your Christmas celebration will be wonderful.

Pat said...

Sounds and looks yummy!
Even though I made the turkey, the girls brought all the side dishes -which in my opinion is wonderful!
We are blessed!