For any Good Eats fan, Romancing the Bird, Alton’s original 1 hour Thanksgiving special is a classic. A classic that is hard to follow up, but as the Good Eats series is coming to an end, Alton tries one more time to produce another Thanksgiving classic. This time with a different approach. It’s all about a stress free Thanksgiving, that involves a lot of planning ahead. This show gives a lot of tips on how to do this along with a brand new turkey recipe that looks to address some of the “problems” with his original Good Eats Roast Turkey (which is a 5 star turkey no doubt).
Shopping for a Turkey
You can’t start a Thanksgiving show, without a turkey. So up first, Alton selects his bird. He turns to his old pal, Chuck, who speaks an expanding varieties of turkeys for the consumer. The variety that most of us are eating is the Broad-Breasted White Turkey. It’s bread to have more white meat than the average bird, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best tasting turkey. He speaks of some delicious heritage varieties. These are turkeys that are direct descendants of the original turkeys that populated our land. He also speaks of kosher turkeys which contain no antibotics, are given outdooor access, and are soaked in a brine (which Alton points out increases the weight, increasing the price). Alton ends up with a pasture turkey, one that lives like a turkey would normally live.
Butterflied, Dry Brined Roasted Turkey | Check out my recipe review
Even thought Alton’s original brined turkey is the best turkey I have ever had, Alton says there are some drawbacks to it. These drawbacks are mushy meat if overbrined, flabby skin that isn’t as crisp as it could be, and drippings that are too salty to make gravy. In order to get rid of these drawbacks, Alton opts for a dry brine, which is a modified version of the dry aging process done with steaks. Now because liquid is not being added, he chooses to butterfly the turkey so that it will cook more quickly, so not to be dried out. Even thought this recipe was introduced in 2011, it was too late for me to try it for that year, so when the 2012 Thanksgiving season rolled around, I gave it a try with amazing results.
As part of the turkey recipe, Alton prepares a Roasted Root Vegetable Panzanella. This dish contains parsnips, rutabaga, Brussels sprouts, bread, onion, and other seasonings. The cool thing about this dish is that you roast it right underneath the turkey. Yes Alton cooks the turkey directly on the rack, so that the juices will drip onto the veggies, giving them a great flavor.
Bourbon Pecan Pie | Click here for the recipe
First, he explains that pecan pie is considered a chess pie. A chess pie is a pie that contains eggs, butter, and a syrup. Chess is an old English way to describe a pie that sets up like a cheese curd.
Alton has a couple unique tricks for his pecan pie.
1) He includes ground pecans in the crust and using spiced pecans in the filling.
2) He uses golden syrup, which is sugar cane juice that has been boiled down and treated with acids. The brand he uses was Lyles Golden Syrup
3) He cooks the pie in a tart pan with a removable bottom. When the pie is finished he freezes it and then removes it from the pan and cuts it into 8 perfect pieces.
Whipped Potatoes | Click here for my review of this recipe.
Alton has down mashed potatoes before, but not quite like these ones. The night before the meal, you slice Yukon Gold potatoes with a mandolin. Then soak them in water in the fridge overnight. The point is to wash away starches, so make the final product nice and airy and not gummy. The potatoes are then cooked in a gallon of milk, which Alton says you can save to make a chowder type soup later. Unique methods here that I look forward to trying myself.
Turkey Giblet Gravy | Click here for the recipe
Alton’s gravy recipes begins hours before the turkey is ready. He uses the giblets, neck, and backbone to make a giblet stock which is then used to make the final gravy. The best tip I got from this recipe is to use flour and potato starch as thickeners. By using two different thickeners you help keep the gravy from becoming a solid mass within minutes after pouring it into your gravy boat.
While it may not be as life changing (my culinary life that is) as Romancing the Bird was, this episode was packed full of useful tips and recipes that I am looking forward to trying out. It was also great to see some of the old characters making appearances. Now if you want you have all the tools needs to make an entirely Good Eat Thanksgiving meal with reduced stress.