Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cooking with Looney Toons

In my biggest, most outrageous, most over-the-top dinner party planned to date, I think I faired pretty well. There were several cancellations at the last minute, so we only had 16 adults as opposed to the 24 I was expecting.  And from the amount of noise I think then entire Hun army sent their children.  There were some big successes in the food, and some mediocre dishes, but no massive failures.  Which is kind of incredible.  Here is the full, complete, unabridged menu:

Herb Butter rubbed Turkey (weighing in at 25.4 lbs.)
Sage and Mushroom Stuffing (this one was mediocre, but I'll blame the vegetarian for that one)
Gravy (also mediocre, although the only person I can blame is myself)
Black Truffle Mashed Potatoes (pretty good, although needed more truffles and to be whipped)
Baked Macaroni and Cheese (big success on this one)
Butternut Squash Soup (pretty good, but needed something on top)
Grappa Cranberry Jelly (do you even have to ask?  Of course it was great, is has grappa!)
Candied Sweet Potatoes (also good, which was a surprise)
Pumpkin Pie (normal, normal)
Gingerbread Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese frosting (mmmmmmm........)

I was most impressed with the turkey.  And I think the reason it came out so well was just sheer, dumb luck.  I made the herb butter a head of time, and not bothering to read a recipe for turkey simply made a pound of herb butter.

Herb Butter
3T Fresh Minced Rosemary
2T Fresh Minced Thyme
2T Fresh Minced Sage
1lb Butter, softened to room temperature
Salt to taste
Mix well and either refrigerate for up to a week, freeze for a couple months, or slather immediately on turkey.

So, when it came time to rub the turkey with butter I had forgot to bring the butter back to room temperature, resulting in big clumps of butter under the turkey skin.  And being lazy, I just kind of poked them into place and left them.  Then microwaved the rest and brushed it on the turkey skin.  Now, keep in mind that I'm doing this by myself, so lugging around a 25lb, slippery, rubbery bird is going about as well as a Looney Toons cartoon would do.  I put a cooling rack directly on a solid oven rack because that was the only think I could find that would fit the turkey.  Then unceremoniously dropped Mr. Butter-up-my-Butterball on top and threw him in the oven.  After a few times of basting the skin was getting a little too brown too quickly.  Hmmmm, perhaps having it directly against the heating element isn't helping...  Lets flip him over.  Cue Looney Toons music again....

Besides using every kitchen towel in the house, watching the bird slide across my counter into the half prepared sweet potatoes, and dropping turkey fat on the cats, I got him turned from breast to back...

So I flipped him, basted him, and put him back in the over.  After a while the skin was a little too dark so based on the fact that I hadn't ruined the bird yet, I decided to just cover him with foil.  When guests started arriving (and by guests, I mean indentured servants that I conned into helping me prepare) someone thought it would be best if I left the meat thermometer in the turkey so that I wouldn't have to take it all the way out to check the temperature.  And as is usually my luck, the thermometer melted in the oven.  Luckily against the tin foil not the turkey.  So we guessed that clear juices = done turkey.

It was actually really good.  Very moist.  Very tender.  Great flavor.  What's my secret?  A pound of butter and cooking with Looney Toons.

(Oh, and I cooked the turkey at a 175C oven for about 5 1/2 hours, just to complete the recipe.....  Don't forget the 3 glasses of Sekt it takes during the last hour and a half of roasting)

Other dishes and recipes to follow.


Drew said...

I am picturing a Tom and Jerry cartoon in your kitchen. I bet the cats loved the turkey fat being dumped on them. By the time you finish all of those yummy leftovers Trey should be home.... More Grappa!

Jube said...

I tried the herb butter rub on our turkey yesterday. Tasty!