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So here’s the deal: in part being the obsessive planner I am, with a splash of those holiday feelings of love and goodwill towards others, I decided to host 20 people at my house for a “Friendsgiving.”   For those who do not know, a “Friendsgiving” is that special time of year where everything that is done on real Thanksgiving, mainly the excessive consumption of brown/orange colored food, occurs minus the family drama and the something-always-goes-wrong traveling.  But  for what “Friendsgiving” lacks it certainly makes up for in lots, and I mean lots, of drinking.  That, and perhaps a beautiful neighbor boy scrubbing up some dishes in nothing but his skivvies…though that story is for another time.

fast-motion turkey

As the host I decided that it was my duty to make the turkey.  That’s right, a young 20-something professional with a terrible stove and pretty janky kitchen in general decided that she would join the ranks of her foremothers and fathers (yes I can be PG) and make herself a mother f-ing turkey.  The challenge is on!

This entire process was purely experimental in that I took my mother’s turkey recipe and added a few ingredients to make it my own.  As you will notice in the pictures, which were taken by my lovely friend and neighbor Ani who’s delicious brunch I wrote about back in August, I did it all.  I pulled out the gizzard, cute off the excessive skin around the turkey’s bottom, washed the cavity, slit the skin so that the seasoning can go in, and all the other carnage aspects of cooking a turkey all by my gosh darn self.

pulling out that ole gizzard

And now for the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey (Mine was 14.5 pounds and NOT frozen.  If you use a frozen turkey be sure to account for de-thawing time that can take up to a week).
  • One roaster pan (I used a disposable one)
  • One V-Rack.
  • Meat thermometer.
  • Turkey baster.
  • 2 chopped apples (I chose to use honey crisp)
  • 2 chopped peeled oranges
  • 2 chopped pears
  • 2 cups paprika
  • 2 cups dried minced onion
  • 2 cups minced garlic
  • 1 cup Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 chopped celery stalks
  • 2 cups fresh sage (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh rosemary (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh thyme (not chopped)
  • 2 cups fresh oregano (not chopped)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (not chopped)

fruitful bounty

Procedure – Prepping the Turkey:

  1. Turn your oven on to 450 degrees to really heat it up.
  2. Throw on a pair of clean rubber gloves that you will never use ever again.
  3. Remove the turkey from its bag in your sink.  Trust me with this, there will be a good amount of blood and/or other enjoyable liquids along side your turkey.
  4. While the turkey is in the sink, stick you hand in the hole between its legs (yes, the turkey’s anus) and pull out the gizzard.  GROW A PAIR AND DO IT!
    1. You can save the gizzard to cook other things like soups and gravy, but I threw it out.  It was just that gross.
  5. Rinse off the turkey skin (but do NOT remove it) and empty cavity with water.
  6. Cut off the excessive skin around the turkey’s neck and butt hole.
  7. Put your turkey right side up (meaning the breast is facing up, on a clean/covered surface.  I used aluminum foil on my kitchen counter.

just cut it right on off

Procedure – Seasoning the Turkey:

  1. Take a deep breath because the gross part is over.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the paprika, dried minced onion, minced garlic, and old bay.
  3. Slowly add water to the mixture so that it becomes “muddy” and easy to slather.  I had to mix in water a few times throughout the slathering process.
  4. Cut some slits between the turkey skin and the turkey meat.  I did this anroung the wings, legs, and on the breast
  5. Slather, and I really mean slather, on some of the muddy seasoning mixture under the skin.  The amount used is based of your taste and preference.  Personally, I used about half of the mixture.
  6. Take the rest of the mixture and slather it onto of the turkey’s skin.  Really get it on there.
  7. If you have any of the mixture left, slather the rest inside the turkey’s cavity.
  8. Time to stuff!  Stuff as much of the fruit, celery and fresh herbs inside the cavity of the turkey.  Make sure that you get at least some of every type of fruit and herb in there.

good and slathered

Procedure – The Tale of the Turkey and the Oven

  1. Put the rest of the fruit in the roaster pan.
  2. Place the v-rack inside the roaster pan on top of the fruit.
  3. Carefully pick up your turkey and place it upside down (breast side down) on the v rack.
  4. Put the rest of the fresh herbs around the turkey and in any nooks and crannies you can find.
  5. Put the meat thermometer deep into the thigh of the turkey facing towards the breast.  Make sure that it does not touch any bone.
  6. Cover the turkey with tin foil.
  7. Set the oven down to 350 degrees.
  8. Place the turkey in the oven and set your timer for 3 hours.
  9. After three hours, carefully lift up the cover and use the turkey baster to take the juices developing on the bottom of the roaster pan and squeeze them on top of the turkey.  Do this hourly after those first three hours.
  10. In order to cook a turkey, the temperature of the meat thermometer needs to reach 180 degrees.  Depending on your stove, size of bird, etc. this cooking can take 5 hours or, like mine, take 8 hours.  Cooking a turkey is a project so just make sure you leave enough time for the bird to cook!

this is why we throw out the rubber gloves

Overall, the “Friendsgiving” was a phenomenal success and all guests left intoxicated and with full bellies!

– Lauren

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This post will be a short one. My go-to pasta salad is, admittedly, not an original production. I was compelled to back-engineer it after having a similar dish during a catered lunch in 2009 that was held in honor of someone who I didn’t know who was retiring from a position at an organization that gave me an internship that I had just started. Run-on sentence? Maybe. However, the original salad was so incredibly delicious that after eating two servings, I found myself hoarding an entire plate of it in my cubicle after the party, feverishly dissecting and analyzing the ingredient list so that I could somehow possess its power.

However, after only three variations, I managed to essentially piece the original dish together. The ingredient list is deceptively small, the actual preparation is very easy, and this salad is honestly the easiest go-to recipe I have. So easy, I didn’t even take any pictures. It doesn’t really need any pictures, outside of the finished product. Just follow the directions. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of orzo
  • 2 – 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 large apple (firm and tart, granny smith never goes wrong)
  • Handful of curly parsley (DO NOT substitute with flat-leaf parsley in this case)
  • 2/3 cup (approx.) of cashews, either whole or pieces
  • 1/2 cup (approx.) of dried cranberries
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Procedure

  1. Boil orzo in a large pot of salted water. Because the pasta is so small, it should only take about 5 minutes or so.
  2. Mix the butter and olive oil with the cooked orzo well. Allow the pasta to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  3. Grate the peeled carrots with a medium-sized grater (larger than what you would use for your parmesan, but the actual size isn’t terribly important).
  4. Dice the apple into relatively small pieces, but like the carrots, size is approximate.
  5. Finely mince the parsley, small as you can make it. Curly parsley will essentially fall apart after you mince it enough, which is important, because you want small pieces! Flat-leaf parsley just gets all sticky and gross.
  6. Toss the parsley, carrot, apple, cashews, and cranberries with the cooled orzo.

 

Interracial love begets the best offspring.

Daddy was pasta and mommy was rice. Or the other way around. Either way, orzo is so fucking multicultural.

This in, in my humble opinion, a great example of a perfect salad. Simple ingredients come together and make something so much more than the sum of themselves.

– Max.

The autumn is my time. I’m an early November baby, I love cool Fall afternoons, the foliage in New England is breathtaking, Football + Thanksgiving = America, and boy, do I love me some apples. The same way peaches are sweet, heady, fragrant, and moist like summer, apples are autumn incarnate: crisp, refreshing, sometimes sweet, sometimes tart, and wonderful when paired with cinnamon. Aside from just hoarding them in my refrigerator and eating them raw, I always make several batches of apple sauce throughout the fall growing season. It comes together quickly, lasts for forever in the fridge, and is a great with both sweet and savory dishes. Or, in my case, a spoon.

All delicious. EVEN THE KNIFE.

Four honeycrisp, one golden delicious, and one mutzu. Extra credit if you can tell which ones are which.

The easiest part of the whole process is choosing which apples to use: just go with what you like. I will recommend, though, that you go with at least three different types. A variety of apples will give the sauce more depth of flavor, but more importantly, it will provide texture, which is important for not ending up with a pot full of mush. Unless, of course, you like mush.

Yeah, I get my produce naked FOR REAL.

I went with 4 honeycrisp, (which ironically are tart and become very soft when cooked) , one golden delicious for sweetness and smooth texture, and one mutzu, which stays very firm, even when cooked. The apples need to be peeled and diced, minus the cores and stems. When breaking the apples down, make sure to to cut them into relatively large pieces. Small pieces will only leave you with a pot full of mush. UNLESS, OF COURSE, YOU LIKE MUSH.

Mah pot just OVERFLOWING with diced apple love.

Gonna need a bigger pot? Not at all, the apples cook down to around 50% of their original volume.

Set your pot over medium heat and add both a pinch of kosher salt and about 3/4 of a cup of apple cider or unfiltered apple juice. The liquid will initially help as a preventative measure to keep the apples from burning, and will later add flavor to the finished sauce. Don’t add too much at first, you can always add more at the end if you want to thin out your sauce. Nothing much will happen for the first 12-15 minutes, but just keep stirring the apples.

Brown and browner.

Best friends like brown sugar and cinnamon always travel together.

20 – 25 minutes in, your softer apples will essentially fall apart, creating a base for the sauce. Personally, I turned the heat off at this point, as I like to keep my sauce very chunky and rustic. You can feel free to keep it on low heat while you add the rest of the ingredients if, OF COURSE, YOU LIKE MUSH. I like to keep it light and classic with just some brown sugar and some cinnamon. Also, instead of more apple cider or juice, I go for something a bit stiffer.

apple sauce = sauced.

To those who know me, a bottle of bourbon is never a surprise.

There are multiple reasons for adding liquor to your sauce. Firstly, it adds a wonderful unique touch of flavor. Secondly, just like adding wine or vodka to a tomato sauce, the apples have alcohol-soluble flavors that can only be brought out in the presence of booze. Thirdly, I enjoy the “sauce” wordplay, but that’s not really important. Bourbon is always my liquor of choice, but applejack, a liquor distilled from the fruit themselves and indeed just as American as bourbon, makes sense as well. I add the liquor just after I turned off the heat, as I want the bite to stay in my sauce, but feel free to add it earlier if you want the strength to cook out.

SAWCE.

It doesn't look done, you say? Fuck you, Mama Bear, I'm Goldilocks. It's just right.

The sauce is essentially finished, but you can feel free to smooth out the sauce with a masher for smoother, but still rustic texture. Or, you can use a stick blender if, OF COURSE, YOU LIKE MUSH. I’ll keep it just the way it is, thank you. The pot and the heat did enough for me.

Ingredients

  • Roughly 2.5 pounds of apples, divided among various types
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of apple cider or unfiltered apple juice, plus more if desired
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (or applejack, if preferred)

Procedure

  1. Peel the apples. They do not need to be perfect, but most of the skin needs to be removed.
  2. Chop the apples into relatively large, even pieces.
  3. Cook over medium heat in a medium or large pot with the cider or juice (and bourbon, if a mellow flavor is desired). Add salt and stir every few minutes until softer apples begin to break down, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and bourbon (if still needed) and stir well. Turn off the heat.
  5. Finish my mashing or blending if a smoother texture is desired. If not, enjoy as is.

– Max.

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