turkey

Thanksgiving Disasters, Have You Ever Lost a Turkey?

by Anne Maxfield on November 19, 2018

Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Turkey Carved

A few years ago, we had a most interesting Thanksgiving and it all had to do with my family’s love of dark meat.

While most Americans prefer white meat turkey, the Accidental Locavore’s family is primarily a dark meat gang.

One year at Thanksgiving we had about a dozen people for dinner. When we were done, the back of the turkey looked like it had been dipped in acid with not a morsel left.  However, the breast was almost totally intact.

The following year I thought I was being smart by ordering a turkey and four extra legs–plenty of dark meat for all. Went to the store, and picked up two enormous (and expensive) bags with the turkey in them.

Thanksgiving morning we took the bags out to see how big the bird was.

One giant turkey leg.

Two giant legs.

Three giant legs.

Four giant legs…oops, no turkey.

Even in New York City, have you ever tried buying a turkey on Thanksgiving day?

We finally ended up with a frozen kosher bird. My father and I worked to defrost it, alternating between a hair-dryer, and water bath.

Don’t even start with “you’re never supposed to defrost anything that way” comments.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Finally, after a couple of hours we got it defrosted, stuffed and put it and the giant legs in the oven.

If you’re wondering why we felt the need for a whole bird, two word–inside stuffing. It’s just so much better when it’s cooked in the bird (and I know the same people who are against speed defrosting are probably anti-inside stuffing too…tough).

Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Turkey Leg EatenDinner was only delayed by about four hours, we were getting low on wine, so everyone was pretty wasted, not to mention hungry, by the time we sat down for dinner.

But we knew we had a story for the family history book. Ever since then, we just buy a whole turkey, and if someone wants extra legs, it’s strictly BYO.

What was your most memorable or disaster ridden Thanksgiving?

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What–No Turkey? My Top 6 Recipes for Thanksgiving

by Anne Maxfield on November 20, 2017

Accidental Locavore My Slow Roasted Duck for ThanksgivingThe other day, I was talking with a friend about Thanksgiving and comparing notes on what we were planning. Since there’s still time to add or subtract dishes, here are a few that have, or will, grace my table. Which ones look good to you?

  1. Slow Roasted Duck: As some of you know, this is not my favorite holiday, mostly because turkey is my least favorite poultry. Since it’s just the two of us (so far), we decided that duck was a much better choice. This one takes a while, but you only have to check it once an hour and it’s delicious! If you want to get fancy, you can make an orange sauce for it by melting some marmalade on low heat with a splash (or two) of orange vodka or Cointreau and another big splash of maple syrup.Accidental Locavore Orange Sauce for Duck
  2. Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions: my mother has always insisted on having creamed onions at Thanksgiving. This dish combines them in a great way and the added touch of horseradish makes it a big winner in my book! Unlike my friend Zhu Zhu, I have no problem buying frozen pearl onions. Life is too short to spend it peeling.Accidental Locavore Stalk of Brussels Sprouts
  3. Cranberry and Dried Apricot Confit: I’m a sucker for dried apricots—the slab ones from Trader Joe’s being my favorites, so if I can stop snacking on them long enough to cook with them, this is almost as good as eating them out of the package. If this is too tough, the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag works fine (add some orange or tangerine zest to make it special).Accidental Locavore Cranberry Confit
  4. Butternut Squash Soup: Not being a huge fan of winter squashes, I make an exception for this soup. It goes from pretty good to great with the addition of Gruyere-covered toasts. If you’re lazy or pressed for time, a slice of toasted baguette and some grated cheese will be just fine. If you’re super lazy pressed for time, forget the toasts and just sprinkle a little blue cheese on as a garnish. The saltiness of either cheese cuts the sweetness of the squash.
  5. The best mashed potatoes ever! This was billed as a recipe for potato salad, but take my word for it, they’re just amazing mashed potatoes. Cheese, butter and potatoes, what’s not to like? It does require use of the oven, but since it’s probably the same temp as your turkey, just sneak some ramekins in somewhere.Accidental Locavore Raclette Potatoes
  6. What, no desserts? Although my husband has asked for yet another batch of Nancy’s cookies, I think it’s time to turn traditional and was thinking either a pumpkin pie (which the paper of record says is better made with winter squash) for Frank, or an apple galette that caught my eye in Bon Appétit, but then I saw this recipe for a caramel and chocolate tart from Dorrie Greenspan’s new book and it was as good as it looked (maybe better)!Accidental Locavore Caramel Tart

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Six Tips For an Easy Thanksgiving

by Anne Maxfield on November 21, 2016

Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Wild TurkeyYou may find it surprising that Thanksgiving is not the Accidental Locavore’s favorite holiday.

It’s not.

If I can avoid cooking turkey, I do.

How about a slow roast duck instead?

Accidental Locavore Thanksgivng DuckHowever, someone usually counts on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Here are my six tips for an easy Thanksgiving:

  1. Buy an instant read thermometer. You’ll never worry about cooking a big piece of meat, again. It’s a must-have. They’re inexpensive, under $10 and worth every penny. You don’t want to ruin the main course, do you? Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Instant Read Thermometer
  2. Delegate. Everyone brings something. If you don’t trust their cooking skills, rolls, wine, soda, ice cream or salad are options that are hard to mess up. And there are very few people (although I’m probably related to all of them) who will turn up their noses at canned cranberry sauce. This is a great strategy if you’ve got vegetarians, or fussy eaters, ask them to bring their favorite dish. Just make a list of what you’ve assigned so you know where you have to fill in. I’ve actually given dinner parties where I haven’t cooked anything, but please don’t tell anyone!
  3. Forget the appetizers and serve soup as a first course. No one needs to fill up on finger food before the main event. I bet they won’t even notice it’s not there (and if they do, they’d better be too polite to mention it). The reason everyone tells you to drink a lot of water when you’re on a diet, is because it fills you up. Soup does the same thing. Here’s a recipe for winter squash soup that’s not too sweet. It’s easy, you can do it ahead of time and it’s inexpensive. While there’s a little cream in it, it’s only ¼ cup added in at the end to give it richness. If you want to make it vegan, use vegetable stock and olive oil and forget the croutons.Accidental Locavore Squash Soup
  4. My mother insists on creamed onions or it’s not Thanksgiving. However, she’s the only one who likes them. I have a great recipe for Brussels sprouts and pearl onions with a horseradish sauce that everyone loves and the veggies can be cooked ahead, then tossed in the sauce until warmed through. Think about other vegetables you can combine so you’re not cooking 400 side dishes.
  5. Stick to one, max two, desserts. No one has room for multiple pies. Add ice cream if you want but keep it simple. And without a lot of leftover desserts, you won’t be tempted to nibble every time you walk by them.
  6. Give everyone some leftovers to take home. If it’s not around, you won’t eat it. Use the turkey carcass to make soup. When you’re tired of sandwiches, how about a shepherd’s pie using the leftover turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes?

What are your best holiday tips?

Happy Thanksgiving! Since I’m going to be cooking something, no post on Thursday.

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Accidental Locavore’s 10 Essential Items for Thanksgiving

by Anne Maxfield on November 18, 2011

Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Essentials

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Accidental Locavore is looking through her kitchen tools, trying to figure out what’s essential for putting together a great dinner. Most of these tips/tools work perfectly for any type of poultry (and many other roasts).

  1. Instant-read thermometer. You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. For under $10, this is the most essential tool for roasting turkey, other meats and checking the temp of your yogurt.
  2. Sturdy roasting pan and rack. There is an old memorable Martha Stewart episode when a guest brings foil roasting pans (too flimsy and not heavy enough for a rack). Martha freaks, you should too! This is more of an investment, but one you should make. Check the Internet or local lawn sales, you might get lucky. I use a V-shaped rack. It leaves lots of room for roasting veggies or potatoes along with the meat.
  3. Spray Pam. There’s a high temperature one that the Locavore uses: Pam Professional. It’s great on the grill as well as making sure the V-shaped rack isn’t a clean-up nightmare.
  4. Something to mash potatoes with. I’ve used a manual masher, electric mixer and am  now fixated on a potato ricer. The only downside with the ricer…no lumps.
  5. A good sharp knife to carve with. This is another place to spend some money, but only if you’re going to keep them sharp. Buy a sharpening steel and use it faithfully and get them professionally sharpened at least once a year. It’s actually safer working with sharp knives.
  6. A big cutting board or carving board. We actually found a classic one at a rummage sale for $1. It’s great because the juices collect in the well and not on the kitchen floor.
  7. A wide roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Use it to make a tent for the turkey to keep it warm while it’s resting.
  8. Butcher’s string. It’s for trussing the bird and yes, you need to truss it (cooks evenly and looks better). Butcher’s string isn’t toxic and won’t melt…
  9. Lightweight reusable shopping bags. To support my friends at Ecoplum, the Locavore carries a couple of their Chico bags everywhere!
  10. A sense of humor. Something is not going to go according to plan, but while Thanksgiving seems to be all about food, it’s really about enjoying friends and family. Almost any food disaster can be dealt with. Trust me; one Thanksgiving we were missing the turkey!

 

 

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