It's Thanksgiving and we decided to try having a few folks over and I decided to make my first attempt at cooking a turkey. That's right, I've never cooked one before and I'm inviting people over to try it. I spent 2 days dry brining they turkey. Really it's more of a rub similar to what one does when cooking or smoking pork to make pulled-pork barbecue. I used a tablespoon of salt for every 5 pounds of turkey then added some additional spices to the mix like garlic, pepper, rosemary, tarragon and sage. Rubbed it all over the 20 pound turkey then sealed it in a bag and let it sit in the fridge for 3 days. I then cooked it at 450 for the first 30 minutes and then turned it down to 325 for the next 4 1/2 hours, flipping it once to cook it upside down. Surprisingly it worked. The seasoning and the slow roasting helped keep it moist which was great since I didn't have that much gravy to hide dryness, though we did have enough wine to get drunk on if necessary.
After the turkey was done I made a yam casserole--yams precooked in the microwave to slightly soften then peel and slice them into a glass dish, cover in cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, butter, brown sugar--cook for 45 minutes then add tiny marshmallows which I melt/brown on top with the broiler--this is what I call my one no-fail dish it always comes out good no matter what I do--except for that one time the marshmallows caught on fire but then you can just scrape off the burned part and the yams underneath were protected.
The rest of the meal is what I like to call the Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade way but without the cocktails and having wine instead. I use a combination of boxed and frozen stuff to which I add my own seasonings and a few fresh ingredients to make it quick and homemade tasting easy. 2 bags of frozen corn warmed in a pot added salt, pepper, diced red bell pepper, ground red pepper spice, some heavy cream, tablespoon of flour cook till sauce thickens voila a southwestern cream corn. We also had the standard green bean casserole--bag of frozen green beans steamed in microwave, added to casserole dish, cover with mushrooms, can of cream of mushroom soup, a little milk a little water cook for 30 minutes add French's Fried Onions and it's an instant holiday classic. Next was cornbread stuffing--a bag of dried cornbread stuffing mix, freshly sautéed celery and onions, a cup of butter, cup and a half of water, mix together spread in a casserole dish bake for 30 minutes and it tasted better than I thought it would, besides the turkey it was the one thing everyone had seconds on. Then add some fresh whole wheat rolls from the local bakery and have someone else bring pumpkin and or sweet potato pie for dessert (though I did whip up fresh cream to go on top) and it's a complete meal. One lazy staple I do like but you don't see in the picture is the Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce as for me in a childhood flashback it's just not Thanksgiving without that jellied roll with the can rings around it--mmm good.
For my first attempt at this kind of holiday dinner things turned out okay, at least that is what everyone who came and ate said--I'll take them at their word. Really I'm just happy the turkey wasn't dry and there were enough leftovers that I can make lunch to take to work for a few days because that's what it's really all about---leftovers!