It’s an overcast day in Londinium. Well, actually it was sunny earlier today, for all of 10 minutes, but right now it’s back to thick clouds and not even a ray of sunshine.
But this is perfectly ok with us because we’re home for the day — at least until we go back out to the pub later tonight. Because today is Thanksgiving, and while we might not be in the US, it’s one holiday that we’re certainly not going to forget celebrating.
As you might have noticed from our most recent posts, we’ve been preparing for today’s dinner for several days. We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again, you can’t just wake up on Thanksgiving morning and put together a great dinner. Well, if you have, just tell us how you manage, although we’ll probably not follow suit. Somehow the preparation is part of the fun.
Our plan was simple, get everything in order to be able to enjoy a stressless day. And we think we’re on top of things. So much so that we’re just back from The Rake where we enjoyed a few pre-dinner beers. They were well earned since we both got up early this morning to make cranberry sauce and stuffing.
Yesterday was a major cooking day. We started early in the morning making cornbread for the stuffing. It’s imperative to make the cornbread at least 24 hours beforehand to allow it time to become stale enough for the stuffing. The next step was making butternut squash puree, a necessary side dish for us. And it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without creamy mashed potatoes. Since we can’t find half-and-half, we’ve used single cream. For the sake of our waistline — not that we care that much today — we’re using light Philadelphia cheese. To be honest, it won’t that much difference considering the mountainous amount of butter that goes into Thanksgiving dinner. But we’re trying to convince ourselves that every little helps.
The last cooking endeavor on Thanksgiving eve was aromatic brine for the turkey. We’re firm believers in the merits of brining a bird. To be honest, we’ve never skipped this step, but we’ve also never had a dry turkey, so we don’t plan to start now. Briners are divided between wet and dry brine, but since we’ve always used a wet brine, that’s what we made.
The last errand of the day was to go to Borough Market and pick up the turkey. Since it’s four of us this year we got a 14-pounder, which should leave us with enough leftovers. Because the turkey is not processed, it did come with some feathers still attached, which we had to spend quite a bit of time plucking with a pair of tweezers. But that’s a small price to pay for a good bird.
We encountered our first real challenge when it came to brining the turkey just before going to bed. Since we weren’t able to find proper brining bags, we used oven bags, which feel a lot flimsier, and we were concerned that they would break and the brine would leak making a mess of our kitchen and, even worse, leaving us with a dry turkey. We both woke up several times and came to the kitchen to check on the bird, making sure it was still submerged. It was.
Being prepared means that once the turkey was in the oven, we could just sit back and relax for a few hours until we’re ready to eat.