When a beleaguered relative asked if I would make the turkey for the family Thanksgiving she was hosting I shot back a simple, unstressed YES. It wasn’t my usual reaction having cooked hundreds of stressful turkeys professionally. My turkey roasting game changed in 2016 when I hit on an easy, liberating, virtually foolproof method of turkey roasting.
I dry-brine the bird (salt it ahead) and spatchcock (butterfly) it — removing its backbone and spreading it out flat — to cook it in way less time while exposing all of its skin to hot oven heat and crisping. The dark meat gets done before the white meat has the chance to dry out (the problem when roasting birds whole) yielding an incredibly tender and succulent bird. It’s not immediately gorgeous looking but WILL be once it is sliced and arranged on a platter. It is truly delicious. (Check out the recipe here.)
It’s one of the many tried-and-true recipes you’ll find larding Improvised Life’s vast archive, from cocktails to desserts. Just select RECIPES from the Topics menu or go HERE to browse a huge array.
Or for pointedly Thanksgiving-appropriate fare, type THANKSGIVING into the Search Box. You’ll find an array of posts like this one with recipe ideas, strategies for making grand make-shift tables and settings, even toasts, poems and blessings…
…not to mention an essential Tart Method you can do with just about any fruit, and twelve variations on the theme of stellar Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes.
My Cranberry Walnut Conserve learned from a Mennonite friend decades ago is a side dish unto itself and a lovely midnight snack standing at the fridge.
If you need a Quick Cranberry Sauce, here’s my down-and-dirty method:
Add about 1 cup of red wine to a medium saucepan and a few tablespoons sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce to about half. Add a package or cranberries, cover, turn the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are tender (you’ll hear them pop as they burst). Add more sugar to taste and stir until dissolved. Remove the lid and stir until the sauce achieves the thickness you like. If you like, stir in a tablespoon or so of finely slivered lemon, orange or Meyer lemon zest. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge, then serve at room temperature. Makes about 2 cups.
And given the wild times, IF the dinner gets cancelled due to Covid or flu, I’ll parcel the roasted bird out to family, neighbors and anyone else in need.
Top two photos by Ellen Silverman.