It's a rite of passage that, one year, sooner or later, the turkey is on you. You, and you alone, are fully responsible for making sure the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table holds pride of place.
This year the moment has arrived for me. We're headed to Richland, as usual, for Thanksgiving with my in-laws, but last year it was already touch-and-go. They put the turkey in the oven--check. But they couldn't remember when they did that, so it roasted pretty long and heartily. This year, who knows what might happen. Therefore, I am bringing the whole dinner.
Sadly, I neglected to order a turkey from on of our wonderful farmers during the Market season. Which meant that, when I went to the store this week, thinking I would do a "dry run" of the process, QFC didn't have a single turkey yet. (Apparently they descend Saturday.) Frozen goose, yes. Frozen Cornish hens (does anyone still eat those?), yes. Even frozen capon, for Pete's sake. I don't think I could point to a capon if I saw one sitting next to me.
That left me--yikes!--a "Jennie-O Oven-Ready Turkey Breast." Call me a control freak, but I don't like people doing my seasoning for me. And I'm pretty sure that my poor turkey breast, when it was connected to the rest of its turkey body, lived a sad, unpleasant turkey life on an industrial turkey farm. But beggars with poor planning can't be choosers, so I bought the danged thing and took it home.
It's now in the slow cooker with some celery and onion and homemade chicken broth, and it smells WONDERFUL.
If you're responsible for a whole lot this Thanksgiving, this long weekend is a great opportunity to get ahead and throw some things in the fridge and freezer:
1. The cranberry sauce. That stuff has enough sugar in it that you could probably make it on the 4th of July, and it'd keep just fine in the fridge until Thanksgiving. I've already made mine, and it's ready to go.
2. The homemade rolls. My second bread machine broke on me (second bread machine in 23 years, that is, so I'm not too annoyed), and I've decided to go cold-turkey, appliance-wise. I'm going to take my favorite roll recipe and do it the old-fashioned way. Try these--they're delicious and--I hope--still pretty easy if you have a stand-mixer.
2-1/2 to 2-3/4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp salt
2-1/4 tsp yeast (equivalent to a packet)
1/2 c warm water
1/2 c warm milk
Mix a cup of the white flour and the whole-wheat flour with the sugar, butter, salt, and yeast in the mixing bowl. Add the liquids and the egg. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl frequently. Increase speed a little and continue to add it the remaining flour until the dough looks not too sticky and easier to handle.
Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead about five minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning it once to coat. Cover with a dish towel and let rise an hour.
Grease a 13x9 pan. Punch down the dough and divide into 16 equal pieces. Shape each piece in a ball and place in pan. (I let them all touch, so the rolls have soft sides after being baked.) Cover and let rise another 30 minutes, while you preheat the oven to 375. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or let cool completely and freeze. When you want to serve them, remove them from the freezer and let them thaw on the counter for a few hours.
3. The green bean casserole and or squash casserole. Totally make-ahead and freezable. My MIL doesn't like squash, so we'll be doing the green bean casserole and vegetables roasted that day.
4. The pie. Pumpkin isn't great to freeze, but apple is.
I'll keep you posted on my crock-pot turkey, but if it turns out well, I think I'll be doing a breast and a couple turkey legs in the pot on the fateful day!