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more thanksgiving preparations and a quick crab dip


It’s Sunday night before Thanksgiving. This morning, we went to the market and picked up all the vegetables, fish, herbs and whatnot. I’ll have one quick, not too complicated trip to Whole Foods, another to Trader Joe’s and a Tuesday market pick up of the two fresh turkeys.

Yes, we get two turkeys – because I don’t want a huge bird. I think 12-15# turkeys cook better. But that’s just me. There are a million opinions on turkey. I’ve been trying to sort them out this week.

Tablecloth and runner selected, ironed, on the table.

There’s dry-brining. Mix up about 4T of kosher salt with some fresh herbs. Rub it all over the outside of your turkey the night before roasting. Let it sit, uncovered, in the refrigerator, overnight. Rinse well, dry and roast as usual. This makes a nice juicy bird with very crispy skin.

Pads on top of tablecloth. Challah cubes getting stale for stuffing.

There’s wet-brining. I use this brine, from Michael Ruhlman, tripling the recipe. I use thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley. And I also include an orange. It’s made a spectacular bird, but some people think it pickles the flesh, replacing the natural turkey juices with salty water. I have no idea what to say. I’ve been really happy with a brined bird for the last several years. And so has Dennis.

Seriously packed refrigerator. Bacon (third shelf on the left) will be roasted tomorrow.

There’s spatchcocking – as in this video from Mark Bittman. Turkey in 45 minutes? Brilliant.

Wine. Wine. Wine.

And then there’s traditional roasting. No muss. No fuss.

The freezer holds chopped spinach, challah, pancetta, beans.

Rub butter (or my secret ingredient – bacon fat) all over the outside of the bird.

Parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage.

Stuff it full of oranges, lemons, herbs and onions. Truss loosely.

Roast on a rack in a roasting pan at 325° until it’s done. Tent with foil if the breast gets to brown.

Plan for about 12 minutes per pound. Baste every 20 minutes. Use a thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh to check for an internal temperature of 165°.

The temperature will rise after you take it out of the oven, so remove the bird when the thermometer reads 155-160°. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

And – I don’t know if this will work for you, but it’s been a life-saver for me – roast your turkey on the gas grill. Light the grill. Use indirect heat and get the temperature to 325-350°. Put your roasting pan right on the grill.

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with our two turkeys. I’ll let you know after the holiday. But I’m excited they are organically raised, pastured birds. One is heritage Narragansett and the other is a Broad Breasted White.

And as you can see from these pictures, I’m getting ready. The tablecloth is pressed. The cake plate has been unearthed and washed. And I’ve been testing some delicious recipe ideas. I made this crab dip last week for a get-together. It was easy and spectacular. Elegant. A little rich to start Thanksgiving, but a great starter for the day after.

I started with this food52 recipe and liked this recipe (from a friend at the Washington Post) and ended up combining the best ideas into this yummy dip. It’s rich. Elegant. And luscious. I’ll be making more on Friday, to get the party started.

Crabby Dip

1 lg shallot, minced
1 T butter
1 lb jumbo lump Maryland crabmeat
2 Tbls mayonnaise
2 Tbls creme fraiche
2 Tbls Old Bay seasoning
1 Tbls Dijon mustard
2 Tbls dry sherry
4 scallions, chopped fine
1/4 c parmesian
1/4 c panko
pinch cayenne
Zest from one lemon
sweet paprika

Mince the shallot and melt the butter in a small saucepan. Brown the butter, then add the shallot and cook until translucent

Mix together the mayonnaise, creme fraiche, Old Bay, sherry, mustard and scallion. Fold in the shallot and crab.

Pack this mixture into a small baking dish or 4 medium ramekins

Mix together the parmesian, panko, zest and cayenne. Sprinkle over the top of the dip.

Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for 2-4 minutes to make the top all crispy and toasty.

Serve with baguette toasts.

9 thoughts on “more thanksgiving preparations and a quick crab dip”

  1. Brining seems to be a relatively new trend and though I’ve heard great things I’ve never actually tried it; just didn’t feel I needed to!

    I’ve done a bird on the grill too; it was great. I was having a lot of people and it sure was nice to free up my oven for other things.

    My favorite and a recipe that my kids now demand though is a bird with a LOT of butter and sage rubbed under the skin; and part way through cooking, bacon is placed across the entire top. It’s also basted with maple syrup throughout the cooking period. Not only does it flavor the gravy but the results have been fabulous; no dried out breast while waiting for the legs to cook.

    But I’m also over having to bring the whole bird to the table; if I have to, I’ll cut out the breast sections and return the rest of the bird to the oven to finish the dark meat; everything is then served on a platter.

    I wish the kids could move on a bit; I sort of miss trying something new each year! Maybe it will have to at least be this dish; sounds divine!

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