Monday, November 29, 2010

post-Thanksgiving advice

I could use some expert counsel from my favorite expert cooking counselors. This year, we're going to DC for our annual friends-and-fun Thanksgiving meal (after the real holiday instead of before), and there are some unusual constraints:

1. Driving down on a Saturday for a wedding, staying overnight in a hotel, making the meal on Sunday. The hotel does not have a refrigerator. This means that the before-the-fact prep has to be pretty limited... I think we might buy and brine the turkey and bring it down in a cooler (in fact, last year we brined the turkey overnight in the trunk of my car anyway to keep it away from critters, so that's actually not unprecedented). But everything else is a little more of a challenge -- I don't have enough cooler space for dishes with dairy products, for example, and that would make me too nervous anyway. I obviously don't want the meal to end with a nice bout of food poisoning for all my favorite people.

2. We'll probably have six hours of prep time, max, on Sunday -- which means my usual slowcooker stuffing recipe is kind of out. It's possible that we'll have six hours only of shopping AND prep time, which is not a lot. Anyone have a good, quick, meat-free stuffing recipe?

3. I generally don't bake for this meal because people like to volunteer to bring desserts, and I think I actually can't bake desserts this year due to the aforementioned storage problem (although I am making cake poppers just because I love them). I do usually make stuffing and cranberry sauce and turkey. If the turkey's taken care of (oy, am just realizing... will six hours of roasting be enough? I hope?), will cranberry sauce be OK in my car overnight?

4. Maybe I should just suck it up and buy some stuff. (Like, uh, a pre-made turkey?) I also could suck it up and ask people to bring specific things, like pie, although that makes me feel like a jerk. We already have a volunteer for sweet potato casserole, and I'm assuming that one reader of this blog is bringing the world's most awesome corn thing, but many of the people on the guest list are either new parents or non-cooking city dwellers, and it's highly possible no one will volunteer for pie... and it can't be post-Thanksgiving without pie.

5. These numbers are really now just me thinking out loud. Ignore them. But I would love to hear your thoughts on these pressing issues.


Alissa said...

I can bring the most awesomist corn stuff. I can also bring other things, too, if you tell me what you need. I should not, however, volunteer for the stuffing, as that was the absolute worst thing that I made for our own Thanksgiving this year. I could try a new recipe, but I'm worried about it sucking again, so I'll leave that to someone with more stuffing skill.

But I CAN offer advice about the turkey. My turkey took a grand total of 2 hours in the oven, which I thought was pretty amazing. We had a 14 lb turkey, which is sort of on the small size, so yours will take longer, but I think this method is awesome and takes significantly less time that other methods. (This is Alton's method, by the way).

1) Roast your turkey at 500 degrees for 30 minutes (make sure it's on the lowest position in the oven so the top doesn't burn).
2) Make an aluminum foil triangle. Position the foil so it covers the white meat (see my turkey post from a few days ago on here)
3) Drop the temp to 350, stick a probe thermometer in the breast meat, and set the alarm to go off at 161 degrees. Mine took about an hour and a half from this point. A larger bird might take 2 hours or so? Still significantly less time than usual, and the white meat and dark meat will both be cooked to the correct temps without getting overcooked.

You should watch the YouTube video of Alton's turkey episode. It was really helpful.

Anyway - let me know if you want me to bring anything else.

hefk said...

I'm pretty good at stuffing. I'll bring that if you would like. I will bring dessert. What else?
Will there be cranberry jello mold in the shape of the United States?