Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkey Prep with the Sous Chef

We hosted Thanksgiving for a nice small group of family members on Thursday. There was only about a dozen of us, which for our family is a tiny crowd. And it was really nice and lovely and we all fit in one room.

Being the culinary over-achievers we are (and when I say we, I mean Jeremy)...we did a LOT of cooking the day before. So much so that Jeremy took the day off work.

Big holidays really are Jeremy's show and I assist him as sous chef. Because he's more knowledgeable about food and willing to get messy and take time to be fussy about things like scratch made pie crusts. I'd be fine with scalloped potatoes from a box, and whipped topping from a frozen blue tub....but what do I know?

I have learned a LOT from him about cooking over the years. Practically everything I know. So now I can really hold my own in the kitchen a lot better than I used to. Years of observance....I think that's what's known as an apprenticeship.

But being an apprentice is not simple either. In our house the apprentice did all of the cleaning and decorating, and the majority of dish washing. She also had to run interference when the head chef starts to lose his mind or cool. 

Once in a while I feel vindicated because I can cook something better than him, but that doesn't happen very often. Usually if it does it's because I'm willing to follow a simple plan rather than make something overly-fancy. A good example of that would be mashed potatoes. I did those because my recipe is simple and delicious...milk, butter, salt and pepper. Jeremy might be caught trying to add truffle oil or something ridiculous.

I'm also the queen of gravy because I'm not ashamed to openly use corn starch to thicken with. That's what my Gramaw Sargent taught me and probably many generations of women in the kitchen.

On Turkey Day morning we had almost everything pre-prepped or cooked with the exception of a few items, mainly the bird.

Jeremy toasted the bread in the oven because we forgot to dry it out the night before. I did manage to talk him out of making his own bread for stuffing, because no one can deny the fluffy absorbancy of wonder bread...nor should we try to replicate it.

Mamaw brought her cornbread dressing patties as well, which are a family delicacy and always required. Baking them makes them deliciously crispy and the secret ingredient...Ritz crackers.

We put a bunch of gubbins in the bottom of the turkey pan, which Jeremy insists on calling his 'mirepoix' because it makes him feel French. He also makes little prep stations and calls them 'mise en place'. Then I roll my eyes and open my green beans with a can opener.

BTW- the word gubbins comes from a British boss I used to have who said it. It apparently means a bunch of things that you stuff inside of something. Trying using it.

This is a stuffing assemly line. Those bread bits get some sausage added and chicken broth to mushy it. Plus some other herbs and spices. Before joining Jeremy's family, I had never had sausage in my stuffing. It really is delicious.

Before joining my family Jeremy had never had Ritz crackers in his stuffing. It really is delicious too.

Charley had seen a turkey day cooking show and declared that he wanted to be in charge of the 'turkey clock'. So he was!

Jeremy rubbed the bird up with some of the herb butter that I made all BY MYSELF, then we used the rest for dinner rolls later.

There's this whole mysterious procedure of sutering the bird together with toothpicks and stray pieces of bread. Charley helped.

Then it baked for about 5 hours and was beautiful and delicious. We all gobbled (get it?) and there wasn't even alot left over, which is great. A picked apart bird carcass is a happy one.

While the bird was baking, we waiting for family and got the kids dressed in their adorable holiday outfits, did some themed coloring pages and watched the Macy's parade.

More pictures to come!

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