30 November 2013

Putting a Bird (or 2) On It

It being our Thanksgiving Day table.

This year we hosted Thanksgiving at our house and we were a bit fickle about what to serve so we decided to go with a few options.

We had a free turkey in the freezer from earlier this year when we bought the requisite amount from our local grocery.  Scott thought it might be freezer burned because it sounded crusty inside the bag, but we thawed it in the fridge for a couple of days and then decided to try brining it using this recipe.  This was Tuesday night and we flipped the briny bird on Wednesday night. We used 2 poultry bags to contain the turkey and kept it in a cleaned out crisper bin. We did not add any ice because the turkey was not quite thawed out when we put it in the brine. Bygones!


We got a nice sized ham to complement the turkey and we also got a duck. I opted to cook the duck the night before because I only have one good roasting pan and that needed to be clean for the main dish. I watched a cool video on the Simplest Roast Duck, then I checked out Martha's Roast Duck 101 and then I got to it. The simplest roast called for rubbing the duck down and storing for 24 hours in the fridge uncovered to let the skin dry out a bit but I didn't have 24 hours so I winged it.

I quick thawed the duck under running water, wrestled the neck out of the cavity and trimmed away the excess fat and skin (reserving for Emi to render later). Feeling a bit like Dexter, I used a small paring knife to make small slits in the duck skin to help with the basting. I tossed some cut up potatoes in the bottom of the pan, heaved the mutilated duck into the dish, breast side down and let it roast away for the better part of 2 hours on Thanksgiving Eve. I checked out options for reheating the duck properly and getting the most out of your duck while I was waiting on the duck to roast.

After the duck was cooling on the counter, I made a pan of Pecan Crack which was a hit (no surprise!)

Pecan Crack

Around noon we took the turkey out of the brine (saving the herbs to reuse), then we rinsed the turkey, stuffed it with the herbs, apples, lemons, garlic and onion, and tied up the legs and wings.  I rubbed it down with some olive oil and let it thaw on the counter for a bit. I ended up going with Elise's tips for her mom's turkey and I did not regret it.  It was delicious!

By the time the birds were done roasting, things were in full swing at our house and I did not get any pictures of the birds whole, reading for carving. The best I can offer is pics of my BIL carving the duck and my husband carving the turkey. I did get a cool picture of my vegan turkey that was also a big hit.

Vegan Bird

Carving the Duck

Carving the Turkey

We had a full house for dinner and very little leftovers but it was a great time!

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving too!

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