Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Scramble

This weekend I bought my very first Thanksgiving turkey. Tonight, for the very first time I'll brine a turkey, and tomorrow, for the first time ever, I'll cook one. These are a lot of firsts for one week, not to mention that there will also be a first ever meeting of the in-laws over Thanksgiving dinner. Needless to say these are quite a few firsts, but of course I am most frightened by the prospect of completely ruining Thanksgiving for everyone by making a terrible turkey. Even though it's a daunting task I think that I'm finally ready. It's been requested by several parties that I keep the side dishes simple and store bought because that's what they were used to in their homes. And even though a small part of me died as I pulled 4 cans of cranberry jelly from the supermarket shelf and into my cart, I must say that I'm also a bit relieved. After all, with the pressure of executing a half dozen new recipes off the table, I can focus on perfecting my turkey. This way, the corn will be a cinch, my mother will be masterfully making the green beans Spanish style, the sweet potatoes need only be roasted, and the mashed potatoes (my specialty) will be a breeze. I may spill a tear or two over the Stove Top stuffing and cans of jellied cranberry, but in the end I'll be a less frazzled host that gives everyone what they want.

One thing that I thankfully will NOT need to do is bake. I've taken the advice of the many magazines I've worked for (and the other dozen or so that I read) and for once not rebuffed the offers of my guests to bring a dish. Since the sides will all be really simple and no trouble to complete while the turkey (hopefully!) roasts to perfection, I asked for guests to bring the dessert of their choice. This way I won't have to fret about heating or baking anything in the oven but the turkey, and I won't be adding any pressure to an already busy day by baking. But, for those of you that may need a last minute dessert to bring to dinner, here's what I would have done if I needed one: a light and slightly tart cranberry galette. All you need is a bag of thawed frozen cranberries and your favorite pie crust, rolled out (not too thin) to about a 12-inch diameter. Other than cutting and macerating the cranberries your work is pretty much done. See below for the recipe and I'll report back next week with tales of turkey brining and Thanksgiving meals. In the meantime, have a happy and delicious holiday!

Cranberry Tart

1 14 oz bag frozen cranberries, thawed and halved
1 pie crust, fresh or store bought
2 Tbsp grape, plum or strawberry jam (or your favorite flavor)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)

1. Combine halved cranberries and 1 cup of sugar in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Cover with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator anywhere from 2 hours to overnight (the longer the better).

2. Preheat over to 350 F degrees. Roll out pie crust to a 12-inch diameter, making sure it's not too thin (you don't want the liquid the leak through when it melts). Place crust on an oiled or buttered baking sheet. Carefully spread the jam over the pie crust, leaving a 1-inch border from the edge. Top jam with the macerated strawberries and fold the edges of the pie crust over (I use a pinch method so it looks neater).

3. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle sugar onto crust. Bake tart in the oven until crust is golden brown and crispy, 25-30 minutes.



Gloria said...

Sounds delicious. Good luck tomorrow.

Kathryn said...

Laura, it sounds wonderful and I believe in you and your turkey-making ability! (Just so you know, I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've ever said that to anyone. :-) I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and especially enjoy all of the firsts. We'll be thinking of you and your families tomorrow and looking forward to pictures (hopefully!) of your yummy turkey.

Nadia P said...

Laura, it all sounds so scrumptious and I *know* that it will come out exactly that way. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

ps i love the new AOTGIM headline banner thingy (no idea what to call it, but hopefully you know what i mean... the carrots!)


Laura said...

Thanks for all of the well wishes! The meal overall (but especially the turkey) was a tremendous success. I'll post all about it this week, complete with pictures of the final bird and my tips and suggestions for successful brining!