Thanksgiving: the aftermath


So you cook and you cook and you cook and you cook, and then you eat for like 15 minutes and 10 minutes of that is spent remonstrating with your children about their abysmal table manners (though, in their defense, Papa did say they could pick up the turkey legs and tear at them a la Renaissance Faire), and then you clean and you clean and you clean and you clean.

At least we had good company at Jason & Lucy's house, though. (That's Lucy with the stuffing leftovers up there.)

The turkey was fantastic this year, as it was last year. I think we've officially nailed it:


You will need:

  • a turkey (we're assuming here, for the sake of argument, that you are using a 12-pound bird, which serves 6-8 nicely and provides adequate leftovers)
  • a large bucket or other receptacle, with a lid
  • kosher salt
  • brown sugar
  • a generous pinch of whole cloves, and another of allspice berries
  • water
  • butter
  • an onion
  • some celery
  • herb sprigs (rosemary is nice)–optional
  • flour–probably about 3 Tbsp
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth/stock/liquid
  • 1 more Tbsp butter (because hey, it's a party!–but if you leave this out, it's not the end of the world)
  • roasting pan, rack and whisk (I like the flat-bottomed spring sort, as shown up there on the right, because it lets you get into all the little fidgety corners of the pan)

The day before you plan to serve the turkey, make the brine: boil 1 gallon water, dissolve 2 cups kosher salt and 1 cup brown sugar in it. Cool to room temperature-ish. Place the turkey in the bucket/receptacle. (Make sure all giblets, necks and other miscellaneous bits of anatomy are removed BEFORE you do this.) Pour the brine over it; sprinkle in the cloves & allspice berries; add cold water until turkey is completely covered. Put lid on receptacle and refrigerate (or, if you live in the Great Frozenish Northwest as we do, you can find a cool spot outdoors to stick it… the temperature didn't go above 45 the whole time we were brining, so we figured it was safe). Leave until 3 hours before you want to eat.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove turkey from brine; pat dry inside and out. Rub inside and out with softened butter. Peel and quarter the onion; cut the celery into largeish pieces; stuff vegetables and herbs into turkey cavity.

Place rack in roasting pan. Make obligatory joke about "nice rack." Place turkey on rack, breast side down. Put turkey in oven and roast, undisturbed, unbasted, for two hours.

Reduce oven heat to 350. Remove turkey from oven; perform complicated flipping maneuver, best handled by two chefs, that results in turkey resting on rack, breast side up. Make obligatory joke about "flipping the bird." Return to oven; roast for another 30 minutes.

Take turkey out of oven; remove rack and turkey from pan and place on carving board. Tent lightly with aluminum foil. Place roasting pan on stove so that it covers two burners. Set both burners to medium-low heat. Heat up turkey drippings slightly; fish out any large onion/celery chunks.

Sprinkle flour into roasting pan. Whisk madly until drippings and flour coalesce into a pleasing roux, flour loses its pale color and the whole thing starts to smell fabulous. Whisk in white wine and broth; cook, stirring constantly, until you have gravy. At this point, you can whisk in the last bit of butter, or you can just forget about it. The gravy will taste fine without it.

Pour gravy into a gravy boat (or, as we did, a fancy porcelain creamer), straining out the dark bits if you're fussy or leaving them in if you're not.

Carve turkey; serve with gravy.

Also: just because you're married to a photographer doesn't mean you're going to get any actual, you know, family Thanksgiving photos. Just saying.

About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
This entry was posted in Food and Drink, Recipes, Things That Happened. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Thanksgiving: the aftermath

  1. Amy Sorensen says:

    Last year I learned a gravy trick from my MIL. After fishing out the leftover chunks of onion, she purees them with a little bit of the broth and then pours the whole mess back into the broth. Of course, she doesn’t use butter in her gravy, but I do in mine. (some half and half or cream, too, but just enough to give it some slip.) So her blended onion trick + my already-fairly-bitchin’ gravy = even better gravy. Or maybe the word is bitchener? 😉
    At any rate, I am glad you had what seems to be a great Thanksgiving! As I have no leftovers (because we ate with the in-laws), I am doing a mini Thanksgiving meal tomorrow and I am totally going to be flipping the bird!!!

  2. Lynn says:

    How come everybody posts their best recipes AFTER the holiday?? Oh well. Guess I’ll just link for next year… or,… feast again next week!

  3. RedMolly says:

    Well, y’know, Lynn, Christmas is coming… the goose is getting fat…

  4. RedMolly says:

    Amy, the pureed onions sound like a fantastic addition. I have an immersion blender, courtesy of my ever-thoughtful sweetie, and I bet that would make short work of rendering the onion chunks into creamy deliciousness. Thanks for the idea!

  5. Summer says:

    Every year about this time, I am horribly reminded of my sub-par cooking skills and the laziness I commonly display in a kitchen. Your turkey recipe sounds lovely, but once I read the ” get a bucket to brine the day ahead ” part, I tuned out. I’m a dissapointment to my family as they are all proficient at turning out wonderful dishes such as this one. I make things with as little steps as possible. But it SOUNDS really delicious.

  6. RedMolly says:

    Oh pshaw, Summer… it’s not hard… you’ve already got the turkey in hand, and putting up the brine takes like three minutes if you’ve got a teakettle. Seriously, the flavor boost is amazing.
    (Wanna know a secret? Our “bucket” was a well-washed-out kitty litter container lined with a garbage bag. Heh heh.)

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