Okay party people... One of the best days of the year is here. I am not gonna lie; it is all about the food.
This year, I spent weeks crafting the perfect menu. It was the first Thanksgiving for which I was in charge, and this is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. I searched for recipes all over the place. I emailed people for ideas and more recipes. I spent hours researching how to roast the perfect turkey. I made a huge menu list and then slashed things like I was making cuts at Gator football tryouts. After all, there was just going to be two of us.
Here is the rundown:
The Spinach Casserole:
We had the good fortune of being able to stay in a house in Palm Springs this Thanksgiving weekend. In fact, I write to you poolside in the warm desert morning weather.
Events of the day:
8:00 AM: I woke up (by choice). I flipped between some terrible morning shows with their terrible jokes and their irrelevant guests.
9:00 AM: Zach and I went to the Palm Springs Aerial Tram to take a gondola way up high into the desert mountains. We took a lovely 4 1/2 mile hike through Mount San Jacinto State Park. It was delightfully nippy. We saw a huge squirrel, 2 woodpeckers and 2 adorable deer.
One of the woodpeckers..I love the noise the pecking makes.
You can see the pair of deer between the trees on the right third of this picture.
1:00 PM: I started cooking. I put the turkey in the oven by about 2:30 PM after some prep work on the seasoning (and some mishaps with my now-i-don't-love-it-all-that-much food processor).
2:30 PM: I prepped the pie. This was stupid. I had a whole pie to bake (that needed to be cooled for hours before serving) while the turkey was in the oven. So one stupid thing led to another, and I baked the pie with the turkey in the oven at the same time. This threw off all I ever knew of cooking times. The pie took about an extra hour, and the turkey, well...we'll talk about that in a minute.
3:00 PM: I joined Zach to sit by the pool. The food was in the oven, and I could not start on the rest just yet since I wanted it to be warm when served. I started reading the book he just finished called " Radicals for Capitalism." If you know me, you know I read very little. I would like to read more, but it is just not what I choose to do with the little time I have free (or I am the slowest reader of all time). This book has about 700 pages. It will take me years.
4:00 PM: The pie finally came out of the oven. I started on the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and eventually the spinach casserole. I also started drinking some wine.
5:30 PM: I popped the biscuits in the oven and took the turkey out. The meat thermometer read only 160 degrees F at this point so I left the turkey in the oven.
5:35 PM: Zach and I danced around the living room to some oldies we had going on the radio.*
5:45 PM: The biscuits were done, but the turkey took another 20 minutes or so.
6:30 PM: Dinner is served.
*I apologize to Zach as I realize this will most definitely be embarrassing.
I am just going to include the recipe for the turkey here. I will be posting separate short ones for the side dishes and desserts shortly. This is really mostly a recipe for the seasoning which was very tasty. I meant to brine the turkey ahead of time, but it ended up being too high maintenance for me this year since I had to take my turkey to work Wednesday morning (since we were heading out of town from there) and then drive it across the desert in the back of my car with ice packs around it. I thought it best to leave it in its original sealed packaging for the trip. I had also planned on making a delicious gravy, but I scrapped that idea when the turkey too so long to roast. We were too hungry to wait for gravy.
10-12 pound turkey (thawed)
8 cloves fresh garlic (separated)
1/4 C lemon zest (keep the rest of the lemon)
1/4 C packed fresh oregano leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp water
salt to taste
butter (for brushing over turkey)
Take a thawed turkey out of original packaging, and remove plastic bags from the inside cavity (there may be two so be sure to take a good look in there).
Wash the turkey in cold water inside and out. Then pat dry.
Leave the uncovered turkey in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place 4 cloves of the garlic, oregano, lemon zest, pepper, oil and water in a food processor. If you do not have one, just chop everything as fine as you can get it and then mix it all together.
Rub the paste all over the turkey, under the skin and on top. Sprinkle with salt.
Tuck the tips of the wings underneath the turkey.
Chop the remaining lemon and the onion, and place them along with the remaining 4 garlic cloves into the inside cavity.
Place the turkey breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan and put it in the oven for 1 hour.
After an hour, take the turkey out of the oven to turn in breast side up.
Brush the butter all over the turkey, and pour about 1 cup of water into the pan.
Place back into the oven, and roast turkey for 1 more hour.
Remove from the oven and baste turkey with the drippings in the pan.
Continue roasting for another 45 minutes or so (until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165°F.