The Tools Of The Trade
There are certain things I can’t do without when making Thanksgiving dinner. I generally start prepping everything 3 days in advance. I make the pie dough and refrigerate, make the cornbread and bread cubes on Tuesday letting it oven dry for hours, make the mashed potatoes on Wednesday cover and refrigerate and make the dressing also that same day along along with the cranberry sauce and pies. You see in the picture my large graniteware roasting pan, the gravy separator and my food mill and you may wonder what that bottle of gravy master is doing there. The answer to that one is, I would not want to make gravy without it, I guess you can say its a habit or a tradition but I find that a dash of that mysterious brown stuff in my opinion makes the gravy better.
I make checklists for each day leading up to Thanksgiving and attach stickies (app on my computer) on the screen, deleting when the task is done. It’s not that I won’t remember, I probably would but I feel more organized when I have my list of things to do in eyes reach.
The gravy separator: Using my method for roasting turkey produces a huge amount of pan juices and because I slather that turkey with compound butter there is also a lot of oil, the separator is essential for me. It effectively separates the oil from the pan juice. To make gravy I scoop from the top of the separator about 1/4 cup of the fat, add to saucier or saute pan and heat on medium high, then I whisk in approximately 1/4 cup of flour and whisk it so there are no lumps it will be paste like in consistency, whisk constantly for a few minutes to cook the flour, you are making a roux. Once thats done, slowly pour in the pan juice whisking while pouring adding more as you need it, once it reaches a thickish but pourable consistency turn heat to low, add salt (if needed) pepper and a dash of gravy master. I always have smooth flavorful gravy every time. If your gravy is too thin, don’t worry make a slurry of flour and water and pour a little in the gravy and continue cooking it will thicken up nicely.
The Food Mill: I make enough mashed potatoes to feed an army. I like Yukon Gold but use russet if you like. I generally figure 1 1/2 potatoes per person. I use 10 largish potatoes, clean, peel and slice (try to get the slices as even in size as possible), place in salted COLD water and place on high heat until they start to boil, then reduce heat to medium and let them cook until fork tender. I place a large mixing bowl in the sink and position the food mill on top of it, the potatoes are then scooped (I use one of those spider scoop thingy’s) and add some to the mill, crank it and repeat, be sure to scrape the bottom of the food mill as potatoes tend to accumulate there. I like to use the mill because the potatoes are perfectly smooth and creamy no lumps at all! I then add softened butter, sour cream and salt and pepper (to taste), mix it all together, cover and refrigerate over night. I re heat the potatoes by placing the mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring frequently. Keep covered with foil to keep hot.