Our first Thanksgiving at the homestead has come and gone and although its almost a week later we are still picking away at the leftovers from a four day weekend of feeding friends and family.
This year we took on the task of preparing the meal for the big day. I was excited and slightly nervous but after sourcing some of the best ingredients from some of my favorite farms I had luck on my side.
I have the pleasure of working with some wonderful people who take great pride and care in the food they raise. One particular farm that was the primary source of this feast and most feasts shared at our table is Frith Farm. Located in Scarborough, Maine and founded in 2010, Frith Farm is the epitome of raising food with a conscience. I have spent many hours sharing some beverages, stories and learning some of the ins and outs of the art of agriculture as well as helping with thier first ever turkey processing day back in 2011. It was the only place I would consider purchasing the centerpiece of our feast and a week or so before the big day I found myself stopping by the farm to pick up some extra produce for Lois' Natural and had a chance to see just how the Bronze Breasted Turkeys were doing free ranging and foraging for snacks in the frost kissed fields off Ash Swamp Rd.
Happy and healthy and making a ruckus these turkeys were well fed and just days away from making many of family feast a memorable one.
Our meal started with a brine the morning of turkey pick up...
1 Gallon Water
1 Gallon Organic Cider
3/4 cup of Sea Salt
Three Clementine Skins
5 Bay Leaves
Fresh Cut Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
from our herb garden.
1/2 cup Pickling Spice Blend
(peppercorns, cloves, mustard seed)
Brought to a full boil before work I left it to cool with a lid on it.
After returning home with a fresh organic 20lb turkey that was processed that morning I was ready to roll !
I grabbed a 5 gallon bucket from my beer brewing supplies and removed the giblets from the bird and popped it in the bucket.
The now cool room temp brine was poured over the turkey. I covered the bucket with a lid put it back in the cooler and set it outside on a mid 30 degree night to brine for a day or so. From there it took a quick rinse, allowing the turkey to sit in a bath of fresh water for a half hour on Thanksgiving morning while I made sure my plans were in order and the kitchen was organized for the marathon cooking ahead.
Inside the bird I put some aromatics that had soaked overnight in some local Georges River white wine made by our friends at Savage Oakes in Union, ME. The contents of the rest of the bottle seemed to somehow evaporate during the cooking process :)
The weekend prior to Thanksgiving we had roasted a whole chicken that we had also purchased from Frith Farm and I used that carcass to create a stock that was the base for our stuffing as well as using some of the fat from the top of the refrigerated stock to smear the raw bird with along with some dried herbs to promote a little extra browning.
The final outcome...
You will notice I reached back to an old family tradition by dressing our turkey up with some brown and serve sausages from another local farm the way my late grandmother Peggy Whitehouse use to do it. She would cover the entire bird from top to bottom, I found just a strip along the top for the final hour of roasting to be just the touch of nostalgia to keep some family tradition alive, Im sure my grandma would be proud of the job I did.
The final spread.
Turkey carved proper... this isn't cold cuts so I decided we would slice the breast thick and keep the juice inside the meat instead of on the cutting board.
Stuffed Delicata and Bourbon Honey Roasted Carrots.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Smashed Taters and Roasted Roots (Beets, Rutabaga and Yams)
Everything came together nicely... the brussels where a touch soggy I think because of all the moisture from the turkey cooking in the same oven but Im nitpicking here and everyone seemed to approve of the final meal !
My wife set an amazing table and was an integral part of bringing all the wonderful dishes together !
Of course we needed some nice wine pairings to accompany the meal.
After dinner I wasted no time in picking the turkey clean and putting the leftovers in the fridge for safe keeping. I then proceeded a slow overnight simmer of the final carcass along with the left over herb stems and end pieces of veggies to create a delicious few quarts of turkey stock.
From there it was on to the next recipe on Friday morning. Turkey Chili with some delicious Maine beans from Baer's Best Beans. An overnight soak in water then I used the Turkey stock, a bottle of Allagash Sixteen Counties and some leftover Cider from Thanksgiving Dinner.
It all came together nicely. I failed to continue the photos and we still have a big container in the freezer. We had so many leftovers in fact that we had enough for a Thanksgiving part two on Saturday when my parents came up for a visit. Heck I think we ate turkey 6 out of the 7 days since Thanksgiving and am finally finished with the last of the delicious treat with the exception of the stock and the chili in the freezer !