26 November 2012

Thanksgiving Cooking Adventures

 The month of November has been very busy for me and I realize I've almost completely neglected my blog. This is not pleasing to me, and I certainly hope that soon I'll be able to get back to blogging more frequently. It's not that I lack for material. Read on...

 On Tuesday of last week, I decided to make my "famous" cranberry walnut sauce (see the recipe HERE) in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner. I had to work on Wednesday, so I felt rather smug that I was organized enough to make it a couple of days ahead of time. 

While the cranberries came to a boil on the stove, I set the timer on the microwave for 20 minutes so I wouldn't let them cook too long. As I stirred and listened to the pleasant little "pop-pop-pop" of the cranberries, I started to smell something burning. Liquid had spilled in the burner and was starting to smoke. I turned on the fan over the stove and grabbed a cloth to cleaned up the spill, only to notice that the smoke was becoming heavier and heavier. Thinking something more significant must have spilled inside the burner, I moved the cranberries to the side so I could inspect the burner. By this time, the smoke was so heavy that I was pretty sure something more serious was up. I called to Bailey (upstairs, just out of the shower) to come downstairs (and get out of the house!) because something must be on fire in the kitchen.

As soon as she rounded the corner, she noticed the problem: Instead of turning on the microwave TIMER, I had turned on the microwave itself. DUH!!! The day before, we had stashed a Tupperware container of cookies in the microwave to keep them out of Lily's reach (she opens plastic containers). The bottom of the bowl had melted and portions of it were stuck to the glass microwave plate. Bailey grabbed the oven mitts and opened the microwave door. She set the plate outside on the step. Daughter of Incompetent Mother to the rescue!

The odor of melted plastic was terrible. We stashed the kitties in the basement and began to open all of the windows. Unfortunately, the smell had gone through the entire house -- upstairs and downstairs. We turned on all the fans and tried to blow it out, but a gray haze hung in the air. I could even see it outside of our house and down the street! Even my hair and shirt smelled like plastic. It was awful!

See the cookies in the bowl?

We are not sure how long I cooked the Tupperware, but it was probably 7-10 minutes. This was an older bowl which was obviously NOT SUITABLE FOR MICROWAVE USE! Days later, we're still trying to get the odor out of the microwave.

So my Thanksgiving meal preparations were not off to a good start. Nonetheless I trudged ahead and am pleased to say that the rest of the meal turned out just fine, thanks largely to the fact that Bailey made the stuffing and the green bean casserole! :)

As I've done for the past several years, I made the turkey the night before Thanksgiving. This was suggested to me by a very experienced cook and it works GREAT. It's nice to have it done ahead of time, and it frees up your oven for other dishes. But most importantly, it's the most delicious, moist turkey EVER!

This year, I bought a fresh (not frozen) turkey. This was much easier than trying to thaw the bird and realizing at the last minute that it's still frozen in the center. I put parsley, sage, onions, and celery in and around the turkey, placing it in a bag for easy cooking and clean-up. (And as everyone knows by now, I need EASY.)

After about 2.5 hours, this 14-pound turkey was perfectly cooked.

After letting it rest for about 30 minutes, I cut up the turkey and placed the pieces into the small pans from our roaster oven (the kind you find in church basements). I covered the turkey pieces with turkey broth, adding a bit of chicken broth as needed, placed foil over them, and popped them in the fridge overnight. The next day, about three hours before we planned to have Thanksgiving dinner, I filled the large roasting pan with water and plugged it in, heating the smaller pans of turkey and filling the house with the most wonderful smell of turkey cooking! (Trust me, this is much better than the odor of melting plastic!) We have found that letting the turkey rest overnight in broth makes it very moist and flavorful!

Feeling somewhat redeemed from my microwave cooking disaster, I saved the turkey carcass to make broth on the day after Thanksgiving. I cut it up and put it in a large stock pot along with parsley, sage, onions, celery, and carrots. As it simmered, I added a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

After about 4 hours, it looked like this. I realize this is not all that appetizing in appearance, but underneath the GUNK is some wonderfully flavorful broth.

After straining the pan, I let the broth cool and skimmed off the fat.

The next day, I used the broth to create turkey noodle soup. I diluted the broth with a bit of water, then added small red potatoes and carrots. I let them simmer a bit and then added frozen noodles. I CAREFULLY (!!!) set the microwave timer for 20 minutes while the noodles cooked, adding thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. The soup was GREAT, and I'm happy to report that no further cooking mishaps have occurred!


Heather said...

That's a great idea for how to fix the turkey! And sorry about the melted plastic - that smell is hard to get rid of!!

Lori said...

Reminds me of the day Nicole microwaved a corndog for 30 minutes. It was charred beyond recognition and melted into the tupperware plate. The inside of the microwave was brown. I found stuff at the grocery store to clean the microwave. You pop the packet into the microwave and it explodes and helps clean it and gets the smell out too. It took three times to bring the smell down and make the microwave look white again.

Janet said...

Heather- I would highly recommend doing the turkey ahead of time! Works great.

Lori - Thanks for that tip! I'll look for that stuff. The microwave still does not smell good!!!