Every year, my family travels to my mom's house in Binghamton, N.Y., for our Thanksgiving feast. Because we have to endure a half-day car trip with three kids, I'm not an architect of the meal, nor am I responsible for any specific dish. I help out once we arrive, but my mom and her sisters still take care of the bulk of the cooking.
When I was younger, this seemed fair, but as I've gotten older and grown as a cook, I've become more interested in contributing something of my own. After all, feeding people is what I do for a living, and I'm no stranger to cooking for a crowd.
For the past six years I've helped organize and prepare a giant annual feast involving not one but three turkeys for the Burlington Children's Space community. But lately I've been dreaming of cooking a real, old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner on a smaller scale. So when Kids VT asked me if I'd like to write about roasting a bird at home for my family, I was thrilled.
Still, it wasn't all smooth sailing. I forgot, for example, that unless ordered specially, turkeys purchased more than a week before Thanksgiving will be frozen solid and need three days and ample fridge space to defrost.
As for the recipe, I wanted something classic that would also be really delicious. After some cookbook and internet browsing, I chose Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Turkey. I loved that the recipe included lemons — an ingredient I always use when roasting chickens at home.
The turkey turned out as good as I'd hoped it would. The skin was crispy, the lemons and sage looked beautiful, and the house smelled amazing while the bird roasted all afternoon.
Here's the funny part: I started this project on a weekday afternoon, so by the time the bird came out of the oven and had its photo shoot, it was 9 p.m.! My husband, Sam, and I had a pre-Thanksgiving turkey dinner date, and the leftovers made for some seriously delicious sandwiches and soup.
Despite the awkward timing, the endeavor was such a success that I just might request turkey duty this year at Mom's house.
(adapted from Ina Garten)
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