Thanksgiving is not really something that we celebrate in Australia though some Christians do celebrate the occasion. The whole turkey Thanksgiving dinner is more of an American influence though us 'Aussies' tend to have our turkey for Christmas instead. The church that my parents attend did happen to have a Thanksgiving service last week with a feast to follow though I don't think there was anyTurkey or roast veggies in sight as it's a Vietnamese church and well, there was lots of Vietnamese food.
The very first time I tried to cook a turkey it was a disaster. Our oven fan had broken a few days earlier and I was very reluctant to have our gas oven running over such a long period of time without a fan. Ryan and I tried cooking it on a kettle coal BBQ but it just didn't seem to want to cook at all. Mainly because I think both of us were a little clueless as to how to cook a turkey. We ended up slicing up the half cooked turkey and frying it off in a pan. I wouldn't call that one of my successful meals ever though the stuffing we made was pretty good. Luckily the turkey was only complimentary to a big BBQ spread my mum had put on for the family already.
I didn't think I'd see another turkey again in my life until I received an email inviting me to sample some Turkey products from Ingham. I was definitely keen to give the turkey another go and was sent a Turkey Breast Buffe and a Whole Roast Turkey to try out.
As it had been a long time since I last cooked a nice meal for my family, I decided that I'd cook a Thanksgiving dinner for my family with the Turkey Breast Buff. I wanted to keep the Whole Roast Turkey to use in a couple of weeks for a big Christmas dinner Ryan and I are hosting in a couple of weeks for some friends.
Whenever I cook for my family it's usually been a meat and three veg kind of a meal. You might think it weird that such a staple western meal is considered special to us. Well, it is when you have a rotation of different Vietnamese noodle soups, braises, rice, and stews as your staple diet. I should be glad that my parents are willing to eat what I cook up, though I always have to put a bottle of soy sauce and chili sauce on the table for them. Generally my seasoning is ok but they always need their chilli kick from either some chilli paste or fresh chilli. It makes the food easier to digest for them as they are used to either rice or noodles for dinner.
So about midweek I took the Turkey Buffe out of the freezer to defrost in the fridge. I decided that I was just going to make a nice stuffing and serve a simple gravy for the turkey. For my sides I was going to do my usual roast veggies - potatoes, pumpkin, beans etc.
The Turkey Buffe comes pre marinated so all you have to do is pat it dry and pop it into the oven and cook according to the instructions on the packet. I did find though that my turkey required longer to cook, all up about 3 - 3.5 hours until it was a nice deep golden brown and the meat had reached the right temperature. I covered it in foil for the first hour and then took the foil off for the remaining cooking time. I also found that the water in the roasting pan evaporated so had to keep topping this up worried that my turkey would be too dry. While waiting for the turkey to cook I prepared all my veggies for roasting.
An essential tool for roasting meats would be a thermometer, a digital one would give you the most accurate results. I googled temperatures to cook turkey and found that it should be about 77 degrees Celsius in the breast. The trick is to not constantly open the oven to check on the turkey, only often enough to replenish the water in the roasting pan. My turkey turned out perfect! I covered it in foil and let it rest while I popped all my prepared veggies into the oven to cook.
For my stuffing, I tweaked this stuffing recipe from the Ingham's Turkey website. I didn't have raisins but found sultanas in the fridge but I didn't have enough sultanas either so substituted the remaining quantity for dried cranberries. I also used dried sage leaves as that's what I had on hand. As there was more stuffing than the amount needed for the turkey cavity I pressed the leftover stuffing mix into a baking pan and popped it into the oven with the turkey until it had turned golden brown on top. It had a nice drier texture in contrast to the stuffing that came out of the turkey which was a lot more moist from soaking up the juices. I loved this stuffing recipe, saltiness from the bacon, the sweetness of the fruits, fragrant sage, it went well with the turkey and gravy.
My rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes are a big hit with the family so I make these for every family dinner I cook for. I tend to measure my ingredients by eye, dried rosemary (you can use fresh rosemary finely chopped), finely diced garlic, cracked black pepper and salt to season and also a small sprinkling of sugar to balance the salt (a very Asian thing to do but it works). Drizzle over some olive oil, toss the potatoes to evenly coat and then I roast them on a rack in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for about 45-50 minutes.
I absolutely adore roast pumpkin (though not as much as I adore roast potato). I'd be happy to have a whole bowl as it is. Usually I'd toss the pumpkin pieces in some paprika, cayenne and cinnamon (about 2 teaspoons of each per kilo of pumpkin) with olive oil and salt and pepper before roasting but this time I decided to roast them with maple syrup and cinnamon instead. They were a big hit, especially with Ryan.
I believe that there should always be something green and mum had bought some green beans so I sauteed them in some garlic. It's the only way I enjoy my green beans. Mum did complain they were a touch under cooked but Ryan and I loved the crunch they still had. Oh and did I tell you how much I love garlic too?
I made sure that the roasting pan was topped up with water during cooking so that any drippings from the Turkey wouldn't dry out and burn so I could use it to make a white wine gravy. I used this gravy recipe from the Ingham's Turkey website. It's actually a really great website that they have developed with recipes, how to's and product information on the other turkey products in their range.
It was not a fancy schmancy dinner but the important thing is that everyone enjoyed it. I was just really happy that I managed to cook the turkey perfectly and that the meat was juicy and tender. As usual, plenty of leftovers which were happily packed for lunch the next day or turned into sandwiches.
Happy Thanksgiving dear readers! Have you had your turkey yet or will you be having a Christmas turkey?