I hope everyone had as lovely of a Thanksgiving as I did. I was responsible for the bird, and this is the first time ever that I roasted one! I made a 12 lb. turkey, brined overnight in herbs and lemon, with sage stuffing and rosemary mashed potatoes. The highlight of the meal for me were the accompanying gravy, made with homemade stock, and cranberry-jalapeno relish. I also made pumpkin pies and whipped sweet potatoes from a White House recipe. Delish!
The dinner came together with a hodgepodge of recipes, some from friends and others from cookbooks. I made the turkey and stuffing according to recommendations from Chris of Just Simply…Cuisine, and you can find her recipes on her blog. The cranberry relish came from Saveur magazine, and you can find it on their web site. The mashed potatoes and gravy were my own creation, and they really did come out pretty good.
Here’s how I made the mashed potatoes and gravy:
For 10 people, I boiled about 5 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes (which made for tons of leftovers). Cover the potatoes completely with water in a deep stock pot, and take them out when a fork goes through the potatoes easily. They will continue to cook as they cool, so there is no need to wait until they are crumbling to pull them out. You just want the fork to glide in and out without feeling resistance, which took about 20 minutes for me.
Once the potatoes cool, peel them. You can leave the skin on a couple for the texture and contrasting color, but I had kids at our Thanksgiving table so I took all the peels off. Using a masher, break up the potatoes until they are the texture you desire. For creamier potatoes, mash a little extra. Add 4 tbsp. of unsalted butter, 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk, 1 full tsp. of salt, and 1 tbsp. chopped rosemary. Whip together with a wooden spoon and add more milk until you light, fluffy potatoes. Check the salt and add more if needed (which is likely).
For about 2 cups of gravy, melt 4 tbsp. of unsalted butter and add just shy of 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour to it over medium heat. Whisk and let the roux cook until it is a golden brown color. Add 2 cups of turkey stock (great recipe here) and whisk to remove any clumps. Let the gravy come to a boil so the roux can thicken it. Add any minced turkey meat you have leftover from your stock, such as neck or (if you like) giblets.
When the turkey comes out of the oven, remove pan juices and add about half of them to the gravy. Check the salt. Since pan juices from a brined turkey tend to be salty, you want to be careful to add just a bit of juice at a time until you get the gravy flavor that suits you. Reserve the rest of the juices, along with leftover birds from the bone, for your next batch of turkey stock.