Friday, November 19, 2010

Day #4 Turkey Day Planning 101

Ok folks, it's my last day of tips and tricks for all things turkey related. You can do this! Remember, pull the bird out of the freezer this Sunday. Start on your side dishes Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday...put the bird in the oven and make your potatoes and GRAVY! Oh the gravy.

There are Marthas on this and there are Bettys on this. Martha Stewart would pull water from her well out back to make her own turkey stock, select her turkey from the barn she constructed herself, carefully pluck the herbs and seasonings from her organic garden and milk the cow to make fresh cream, all while churning butter and sewing an apron to wear on the big day. Betty Crocker takes her $.50 coupon and buys a jar of the stuff herself and skips all the way home knowing she's saved - not slaved. I am a mix of the two.

I like a lot of gravy as I generously douse everything on my plate with it. A bird only produces so much 'juice' while cooking so you need to help it out a bit if you have gravy lovers like me in your family. This is where Betty enters stage right. I have developed a delicious recipe that is made from scratch with a little help from McCormick.

All the pan drippings and broth from your turkey
Chicken or turkey stock
1-2 packages McCormick Turkey Gravy Packets
Flour or cornstarch on standby
1/2 c. Sour Cream

Pour all the pan drippings into a stock pot and bring it to a boil. Add in 1-2 cups of additional chicken or turkey stock and 1-2 packages of the gravy packets (I'm being purposely vague on the stock and packets as you'll increase based on your bird size). With all of this boiling along, add some salt and pepper to taste. I also add in my gravy packet(s) and once that boils, remove it from the heat.

Make sure you whisk all of these ingredients together - we want a smooth sauce. I'm going for a certain thickness that's not watery and not solidified glop and that is something best defined by seeing it live. If you feel you have a sauce that's too watered down, mix a tablespoon or two of flour or cornstarch with 1/2 a cup of sour cream and whisk it all in the sauce. Putting the flour or starch in the sour cream and dissolving it first will help alleviate those blasted lumps. The sour cream adds divine flavor as well. Make sure you taste along the way and adjust accordingly - you know what tastes good! That's all there is too it.

Now for desserts...there are tons of family favorites out there and about 25 ways to make a pumpkin pie. I won't go into how to make one other than to be the #1 advocate of premade crusts. Eagle Brand Milk has a nice recipe if you wish to google it, and so does Libby's Pumpkin - it's on the can! I've done baked pumpkin pies, whipped pumpkin pies, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin roll, pumpkin squares and tarts, not to mention trifle. I like them all...but also appreciate the variety of brownies and cookies and apple pie. Banana pudding would rock the dessert buffet along with pecan pie or some lemon bars. It's nice to give your guests a few options and remember that a standard pie renders about 8 slices.

Whatever you decide - whether it's to make it yourself, assign it to a family member or send your husband to a bakery - it will be delicious. And if it's not, pull out some ice cream and make sundaes. It's the time you're spending with friends and family that outweigh the meal itself. Just relax and enjoy the process. I find cooking to be theraputic. I hope each and everyone of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I can't wait to hear how your meal turns out!

Have a delicious holiday,

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