Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. One, because the commercialization of it is primarily about food. It’s a day when family and friends get together and catch-up on all the happenings in our busy lives. Most businesses are closed and it ends up being a slow day. Wherever you go for the feast you stick around for seconds, maybe thirds and then wait for the desserts to be served up. Growing up, we always had Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house. Family grudges and gossip were held to a minimum because Gramamma was putting on a show and she was always happy about it. Her smile was infectious. One couldn’t help but to walk into this warm environment and feel the love. The guys would chit chat about politics and the upcoming football games over a few beers, or in my case – honey wine. The women would be in the kitchen getting the grub in order. Lots of smile and lots of memories. We all knew that whatever our lives might be, come the following Monday that there was so much to be thankful for. Then she would say it….Gramamma would exclaim, come and get it. My uncle Adam was given the honor of the prayer. We would hold hands as family and friends and offer thanks for the wonders that God had given us.
Years later I was reading about Thanksgiving and came across the official proclamation making it a national Holiday. The proclamation was issued by George Washington in his first term as President. Boy did he get it right. You can read it here. Life has moved on and my Gramamma is no longer with us in this life. This was my first year to step up and put on a show. I got to cook the turkey and 3 main dishes. Plus, I got to carve the turkey (my first turkey and my first carving). My 3 main dishes consisted of a ground lamb, mint and vegetable dish with sauteed apples and topped with goat cheese, a variation of my coconut, carrot curry soup seen in episode 6 of The Common Chef and a “poor man’s” quiche type of dish. But the turkey was my masterpiece for the day. It was juicy and cooked to perfection. Here is what I done!
First, used a turkey roaster instead of the oven. Though it could work nicely in an oven also. I wanted it covered the whole time as to keep it juicy. I stuffed it with all fruit, tangerines, oranges, grapes, cranberries, apples, pineapples all mixed with a good dose of honey and then placed it in the roaster. It was a 20 pound bird, so I used 42 ounces of chicken broth in the bottom of the roaster. Then surrounded the turkey with thick cut pieces of potatoes, onion and garlic. Rubbed some olive oil on the turkey and seasoned it with some of my favorite seasonings and fresh rosemary. Then I cooked it at 300 degrees for the first 2 hours. I wanted it slow cooked. A few times throughout the day I would baste it with a light olive oil (only after the first coat of seasonings had grafted into the skin. You don’t want to wash those away. After the second and third coat of light olive oil, just dust the skin with your favorite seasonings again.
After 2 hours at 300, turn it up to 350 degrees for about another 2.5 hours. There is nothing more I can say but – Shazzaam!
As we ate and enjoyed each other’s company. I thought of my Gramamma. She would have been proud. I miss her. But she was there, along with her smile.