Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Belated Thanksgiving Post

This was not the first year we made a turkey around Thanksgiving, but it was the first year that we held the main event at our residence. When we were first married, I was in grad school and we lived too far from family to drive home on short breaks. These were the years when we happily accepted invitations to join friends and their families and/or friends for a holiday celebration. A lot of these get-togethers were pot-luck style, and we contributed a dish or two to the meal. One or two dishes that can be serves warm or cold is nothing compared to providing the main event yourself.

Forces combined against us timing things perfectly. I should have expected that, though, since I can't time a regular meal to be ready all at once (unless it is a one-pot-dinner). Despite loving to sleep in, the necessity of rising early on a regular basis caused both my husband and me to get up rather early, considering it was not a work day. Add in a delayed guest (weather increased travel time by about an hour), and my anxiousness to start cooking, for fear of not finishing in time. All that equals mashed potatoes chilling on the stove an hour early, corn pudding resting for an hour or so, and the turkey being allowed to rest for about an hour, instead of 15 minutes, before being carved.

Granted, I did intentionally start the turkey early to ensure it would have enough time to reach the proper temperature. You may be wondering how we were able to cook a turkey, sans oven. The countertop oven, which probably would not have fit the size bird we had, was used for things like rolls and corn pudding. But we did have another trick up our appliance sleeve: countertop roaster. (This looks similar to the one we have.)

Years ago, when we were contributing one or two dishes to someone else's celebration, our host had a countertop roaster that they used frequently. For holiday meals, it was especially handy for them because it kept the oven free for all the myriad of side dishes that they had. It also works very nicely for those who are ovenless.

When I did a search for these countertop ovens so I could show you a picture, I noticed that most returns were quite fancy, and pricey. We got ours about 3 years ago, as part of a deal at the grocery store during the holidays. It was either buy the turkey, get the roaster, or vice versa. Either way, it was a decent deal, even if I have thus far only pulled it out a few times a year.

When using a roaster like this, one should keep in mind that things will not brown like they do in a traditional oven, and cooking times are often reduced. The instructions that came with mine say a 14-16 lb bird will be done in 2-2.5 hours. Ours took closer to 3-3.5 hours, but that was because some of the organs were hiding from me, and stayed in the bird throughout the cooking process. Oops.

Aside from checking the internal temperature of the bird, this was a relatively hands off way to cook the turkey. There was no need to baste, since any steam kept inside the roaster. Overall, despite human error, I am quite happy with the roaster, and the moist turkey it produced.

Certainly helped our first time hosting Thanksgiving be a good one!

(It was wonderful to be able to use my grandparents' dining suite to entertain!)

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