Despite some trepidation about my first Thanksgiving hosting extravaganza everything came together as expected. The table was set as planned with a drop cloth as a table cloth, felt leaf placemats instead of a table runner, “Eat More Beef” turkeys, Indian corn, decorative gourds, my great grandmother’s silver and my great uncle’s/ great aunt/ possibly great grandmother’s crystal. Oh and some construction paper leaves.
As mentioned here I won a second turkey while the first 20 pound turkey was already defrosting in the refrigerator. It was quite the surprise but allowed us to try out two different turkey methods.

The winner turkey showed up and was 14 pounds of still-mostly-frozen-on-Tuesday turkey flesh. It went right into the refrigerator and then a cold water bath on Wednesday for defrosting quicker. Then I wrasseled with the turkey kindly referred to as “#2” while it was still a little icy. I’m quite intimate with a turkey now. But when I was done the backbone was removed (and saved for stock to make gravy) and #2 was mostly flat in its tray, almost ready for grilling.

I mixed some chipotle peppers and the sauce from the can with olive oil then spread it on the turkey. Under the turkey went limes, lemons, onion and garlic. The turkey sat overnight with its chipotle tan and was brought back to room temperature before going on the grill.

We have a gas grill and the husband was in charge of cooking this guy. He left the two side burners on low and let the turkey do it’s thing for about two hours and 15 minutes or so (for the 14 pounder) and we think we had the temperature around 350-degrees. We don’t have a BBQ thermometer so we winged it– haha, get it? Turkey? Winged it? Anyhow, the turkey turned out perfect in that time.

Yep, he fell right apart. But wait, there’s more! Turkey #1 was done in the classic manner of roasting in the oven. Instead of stuffing the turkey (which Alton Brown says is evil) I used Alton’s suggested aromatics.

Lemon, cinnamon, garlic, onion, bay leaves, apple, sage. I think I might have added some or missed some and skipped some of his steps because I just jammed inserted gently stuffed this as-is into the cavities and then closed the skin over them. Most of everything above fit in the 20 pound turkey and some was used under the chipotle turkey.

Once the aromatics were in the room temperature and dried-off turkey, I put it in the roasting pan, oiled it up and put a little pepper and lots of Kosher salt all over the skin Thomas Keller roasted chicken style. That’s it. Into the oven which was preheated to 500 then turned down to 350 degrees for just over four hours.

Check that bad boy out! I forgot the closeup, clearly I’m delusional from all the turkey I’ve been eating for the past six days. Yes, that is my handsome husband carving the turkey. Yes, that is me in an apron.This turkey was my favorite due to the additional flavor imparted by the aromatics. For some reason the one on the grill just didn’t have as much flavor. I would also say the grilled turkey was slightly but not obviously a little more dry than the oven one. As for the future turkey cooking method, I would definitely try grilling again but I will always stuff with aromatics in the future because it was most successful at imparting flavor.

After everyone pigged out enjoyed a delicious meal of two kinds of turkey, two kinds of dressing (stuffing is only if it’s been stuffed into the bird, otherwise it’s “dressing”), mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, Autumn salad, green bean casserole, yeast rolls and pierogi with some wine we all had to unbutton our pants. Because there was also pumpkin, pecan and apple pie. But then after all that — washed down with more wine– we let everyone take some leftovers and packed a whole catering tray with turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and more turkey which was donated to a shelter. I’m thankful that we are lucky enough to have plenty in our home and can share with those who are less fortunate.

My dad and I worked on both turkeys removing all the meat (while some people were still enjoying the turkey after dessert) for our leftovers and for the tray to be donated. Yes, he is wearing another of my aprons.

All in all it was great fun having friends and family sit down to a delicious meal. I already can’t wait for next year! Maybe I’ll still have some of this leftover turkey around…