Saturday, December 31, 2011

Roast Turkey and the BEST Shortbread EVER - Celebrating the last day of 2011

The last day of 2011 is certainly cause for celebration this year - celebration of God's provision and each other, of change and the unknown.  So today we had a celebration feast - on the menu:  Appetizer: Extra old White Cheddar with Scottish Oat Cakes and Sesame Rice Crackers served with Spicy Hummus and clementines; Main: Roast Turkey with Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes; Dessert: Creme Caramel coffee with Homemade Shortbread.

We laughed and feasted then gathered around the tv to watch the family-friendly classic comedies: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut and The Shakiest Gun in the West.

I think a new tradition was born today in our little family.  From now on we will take this day as a family to celebrate and reflect on the many blessings we've received throughout the past year (and the challenges) as we welcome in a new year of excitement and possibility.

Roasted Turkey
  • 5-6 kg Butterball turkey (10-12 lbs)
  • Olive Oil
  • Clementines, halved
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Ground Sea Salt and Pepper
  • Onion, cut into 8 wedge
  • 1-2 Tbsps Cornstarch
Thaw turkey overnight in the sink.  Remove giblets.
Preheat oven to 500F. And rub the entire bird down generously with olive oil.  Season well with salt and pepper.

Stuff cavity loosely with onions wedges, clementines and fresh rosemary.  Sprinkle a few rosemary leave on top of the bird as well.

Cover tightly with foil.  Place in the oven (I had to remove my top rack) and turn down the temperature to 350F.  Roast, basting every 20-30 minutes.  After around 3 hours, remove foil so the skin will turn brown and crispy.  Continue roasting and basting until the internal temp of the fattest part of the breast/thigh reaches 170-175F (it took our 5.5 kg turkey 3.5 hours).

Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes uncovered.  Continue to baste every ten minutes or so.

Strain drippings through a gravy separator and pour into a saucepan.  In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with several spoonfuls of drippings to dissolve.  Add to saucepan to slightly thicken the gravy.
Serve turkey and gravy with your favorite potatoes and/or veggies.

We always remove every bit of usable meat from our bird and make stock.  If you think that sounds complicated, see for yourself ...

All you do is place the turkey carcass in a big pot with a lid.  Cover with water.  I throw in everything extra - all the bones, skin, wings.  Throw in some rough chopped celery (the best part is the leafy heart), carrots and onion.  Season with a little fresh ground pepper.  Taste and make sure the salt is good ... you might need to add a little more.  Simmer on low for at least 6 hours.  It can really go all day.  When it's finished, strain with a colander ... and you are left with the most beautiful stock.  Store in the fridge or freeze for future use - make sure to skim off the layer of fat that forms on top.  I usually make a turkey noodle soup the next day to use up the leftovers ...

Shortbread (adapted from Jamie Oliver)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup semolina
Preheat oven to 300F.  Cream together butter and sugar.

Slowly fold in (on the lowest mixer speed) flour and semolina.  Just in case you've never used semolina before, it can usually be found in the rice section of the grocery store (here in Canada).  It really gives these cookies a great texture.

The dough will resemble coarse crumbs.  Knead by hand a few times and press into a buttered 9x9.

Prick with a fork.


Bake 50 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes, then cut and dust with powdered sugar. They're yummy warm, but the payoff is when they're completely cooled.

So ... happy last day of 2011!!  We only get it once ... so make an effort to celebrate it well! :)