Thanksgiving 2018

Cooking for Thanksgiving is now one of my favorite things to do. Yup, I know, it’s quite strenous and nerve-wracking. Regardless, it’s quite rewarding when you know that everything has come out just as its supposed to be. Truly gratifying even more when you hear praises! Oh yes, it’s quite worth the struggle.

This year’s turkey, I decided to flavor the big bird with orange maple bourbon. Yum! I first tried this combination with glazing this on baked fried chicken, and it had came out scrumptuous, so why not do it on a turkey?

Turkey Brine:

  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups maple syrup
  • 1 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 3 bay leafs
  • about 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 cup salt
  • about 4-6 quarts of water
  • 5-7 cloves garlic
  • juice from 1 orange
  • peels from 1 orange

Put everything in a huge pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or so. Let cool completely before brining the turkey. I let my turkey brine for 24-35 hours before drying it using paper towel, and letting it sit in the fridge uncovered overnight. Please don’t wash after brining. I washed mine and it was a mistake as it somehow lost all the flavor on it.

Baking the Turkey:

  • 3/4 cup softened butter/margarine
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 whole garlic bulb, top cut off
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 oranged, quartered
  • 3 medium sized carrots, roughly sliced

After drying the turkey overnight in the fridge, take it out and let it sit at room temperature for about half an hour to an hour. While waiting, you can mix in a small bowl all that constitutes the spice rub. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Inside the cavity of the turkey, place the garlic bulb, onion, carrots and orange. Truss the turkey afterwards. Slather the softened butter or margarine all over the turkey, followed by sprinkling of the spice rub.

Bake in the preheated oven at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and cook for another 2 hours or so, covered with foil. Make sure to place turkey on the second lowest rack in the oven.

Turkey Glaze

  • 1 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • juice from 1 orange
  • peels from 1 orange

Let everything come into boil onto a small saucepan until the alcohol cooks off, about 10 minutes or so.

Once the turkey is cooked, take the turkey out and brush with this glaze. Again in the second lowest rack, or lowest rack, switch the oven to broil. Let the turkey broil for few minutes until it has this beautiful shiny brown look. Cover the with foil the areas that burn too quickly. Whenever broiling, always keep an eye out and don’t leave the side of the oven. With sugar involved, the turkey can easily burnt if not watched properly.

Once browned to perfection, take it out of the oven, and place on the serving plate. Cover completely with foil.

Instead of using the turkey dripping for gravy, I decided to just make-ahead the gravy and not wait for the turkey to cook. This is just the common gravy recipe, but using the flavor from turkey giblets.

Turkey Gravy

  • turkey giblets
  • 1/4 cup flour/cornstarch
  • 2 cups (unsalted) chicken/turkey broth
  • 1/2 stick or 4 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Pan-fry the turkey gibbets in a skillet or even a saucepan with about 2 tbsp olive oil or so, until cooked completely. Drain in paper towels. Into the same skillet or saucepan on a medium heat, make a roux by melting the butter and whisking in the flour. Let the flour cook off completely, about 5 minutes, before proceeding. I had the misfortune of not cooking the flour completely before, and believe me, the gravy tasted disastrous.

Once done, pour in the broth while whisking to avoid any lumps. Continue whisking as the gravy thickens and the desired consistency is achieved. Add salt and pepper as necessary. If using broth that’s already been salted, you might want to skip on the salt.

The dilemma I had when I made this was that it was too salty for my taste (even though I used unsalted broth), so I had to dilute it with water. Which in turn ruin the desired gravy consistency I prefer. How did I resolve the dilemma? By adding a cornstarch slurry. And voila, it came back to the consistency I liked. The saltiness probably had came from the gibbet when I panfried them. I didn’t salt them, but they’re probably heavily salted when we bought them.

Mashed Potatoes

I’m not a big fan of mashed potatoes, but since everyone in the household holds high regard of mashed potatoes, I definitely just had to make it. This is just a simple mashed potatoes with no frills and suprised ingredients. And surprisingly, it came out really good! Why, they even praise the mashed potatoes more than the turkey!

  • 4 lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chives or scallions (for garnish)

Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Everyone I know prefer to have the potato skins on, so I didn’t bother with peeling them.

Once the potatoes are done, mash the potatoes with either a masher, pastry blender, or a ricer. The preferred choice is a ricer, but we didn’t have one, so I used pastry blender.

On a bowl, microwave the heavy cream or milk-heavy cream combination with 4 tbsp butter for about 1-2 minutes until butter has melted and the mixture is slightly hot to touch. Stir until combined. Pour the mixture to the mashed potatoes and stir everything together until homogenous. It would look watery and very loose at first, but the starch from the potatoes will start absorbing the liquid and it will eventually thickened and turn creamy.

Place the mashed potatoes into a serving bowl/dish and garnish with either chopped chives or scallions.




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