Thanksgiving and The Upcoming Move

First off: I will be moving my blog and essentially “re-launching” it sometime over the next month. I’m trying to get WordPress set up on my new domain space, as soon as I do I’ll be doing more with the blog. Not that anyone other than family and friends care, but hey… 🙂

Had a great Thanksgiving this year. It was actually a 2-day affair: Thanksgiving and Leftover Day. For Thanksgiving I made a roast turkey (in the new convection oven), a smoked turkey breast, 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, pan gravy (from the roast turkey drippings) and a pumpkin pecan streusel pie. We had around 20 people here for Thanksgiving – really, the only people missing were my brother and his family, they were at his in-laws for Thanksgiving.

We invited anyone who was interested to come back on Friday to eat leftovers and play games, but surprisingly enough there weren’t a lot of leftovers. So Friday morning I got up early and got a couple more fresh turkey breasts and the ingredients for some cornbread stuffing, another pumpkin pie and my grandma’s chocolate peanut butter pie. I also picked up YET ANOTHER freaking copy of Guitar Hero World Tour as well as Rock Band 2 and the Scene-It games for X360.

PLEASE NOTE: When they tell you not to move the XBOX 360 while there’s a disc in it, THEY MEAN IT. While plugging in the microphone we managed to move the console a little too much, and a second or two of horrible screeching noise later we took out the GH:WT disc to discover a massive scratch around it. Needless to say, it wouldn’t read again. DEAD.

So Friday morning I smoked another couple of turkey breasts (rubbed them with Mary’s Cherry Rub, which is one of my wife’s favorite dry rubs in the world), made some cornbread dressing and a couple of pies. It sounds like a lot, but in reality it was pretty easy. I was a little irked that I didn’t have time to brine the turkey breasts (I ALWAYS brine poultry…or at least, I always used to), but by being careful to get the breasts out of the smoker at 152 degrees (f) they were still plenty juicy.

FYI, my brine recipe couldn’t be simpler: 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of sugar (dark brown is my preference), 1 gallon of low-sodium stock (chicken or vegetable), and then a cup of “spice tea” – which I make by microwaving cinnamon, cloves, garlic, allspice, nutmeg and peppercorns in a cup of water. Submerge the turkey breast-side down, then add enough ice and water to cover. Brine for 6-12 hours depending on size (6 hours for a breast up to 12 hours for a 14-15 lb bird – I never do anything bigger than that, I’d rather just do two smaller birds). Smoke the turkey until the breast reads 152 or so with a thermometer, then get it out and let it rest for 15 minutes. 

The roast turkey was done using the Alton Brown roasting approach, whereby you roast at 500f for 1/2 hour to get good browning on the skin, then lower to 350 to finish after putting a foil triangle-tent over the breast. It turned out pretty good, but I prefer smoked turkey. I mainly did this to get really good gravy drippings and a bird with edible skin, which some people in my family like. Not me, I find poultry skin disgusting.

My brother, sister, brother-in-law and I got the band back together and played Guitar Hero World Tour, and it was a BLAST. We each took turns singing (I got to sing “Ramblin’ Man,” but I had to use my sister’s choice of avatar, so my baritone voice was coming out of little Midori the Japanese rocker…it was humorous). I also got to play both lead and bass, I just haven’t tried the drums yet. We didn’t get to try Rock Band 2, but later my sister, my wife and I tried Scene-It and lo and behold, it was quite a bit of fun. I like that the game keeps track of the questions you’ve seen, and it’s very accessible for anyone that’s seen recent movies. The little controllers that they provide are also a lot of fun, it’s kind of like being on a game show.

Tomorrow I’ll be smoking a standing rib roast and a couple of pork butts for next weekend’s Carmichael Christmas at the Lake celebration – I already have the pork butts injected with marinade, and they’ll go in the smoker around 7am. They’re pretty small, but they look amazing. Hen House meat is great quality but very expensive. Their standing rib roast looked great too, I picked up an 8.25 pounder that’ll be smoked tomorrow too. Fun! I love this time of year, I get to cook pretty much non-stop from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

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