thanksgiving day dawned bright and sunny, a beautiful day for sharing with family.
having offered to help with the big meal, i crawled out of our warm bed, leaving the hub and the bean snoozing peacefully, to head over to the grandparents' house and git 'er done. i lamented the fact that i'd forgotten to make coffee the night before and got to the house to find the menfolk on yard duty and the women cleaning house. i made my way into the kitchen to get started, still blurry-eyed and half asleep.
MIL and i had gone to trader joe's to pick up the turkey - a big ass almost-20-pound bird. and, in true wan style, i'd managed to talk our head chef, brother wan, into letting me try a new recipe - for bacon-wrapped turkey. oh, yes.
of course, the other main ingredient:
i took the wrapper off of that bird and laid her out on a cutting board to check 'er out.
following the recipe, i gingerly began separating the skin from the flesh. it was totally bizarre, and i felt really weird as i kept working. kind of like i was violating the poor thing in some way. ew.
i wasn't able to take pictures of the process, but here's what it looked like when i was finally done. i'd carefully placed strips of bacon between the skin and the meat, patted the skin back into place, and then wrapped the whole top of the turkey with the rest of the bacon. i thought it would look to do a basketweave with the strips. is this not just ridiculously amazing?
FIL and brother wan went on a quick grocery store run and came back not only with the needed ingredients, but a few of these:
oh, i was so grateful. it helped my mood considerably. and i was also perked up by the fact that my hands still smelled enticingly like smoky bacon, even after i'd already washed up with hand soap several times.
brother wan added to the decadence of our main course by tossing a couple of sticks of butter into the cavity of the turkey, along with slicing some up and placing them all around it. he added chopped onions and fresh sage to the cavity (which, of course, also had bacon strips inside), wedged some onion in around the turkey, and sprinkled more sage on top. finally, she was ready to go into the oven. i just hoped the bacon wouldn't shrink too much and ruin the fabulous weave i'd worked so hard on.
we spent a little time chatting about the rest of the meal prep as we sipped our coffees, and then everyone went in different directions as we went to get ourselves ready for the rest of the day. i headed home to find the hub giving the bean a bath, while the teen was freshly showered and hunting through both of our closets for something to wear.
by then, the bean was drowsy and ready for a nap. the hub took her to drive around in the car and fall asleep, and the teen and i finished getting ready and went back over to the grandparents'. after FIL told me "the bacon burnt to a crisp and the whole thing's ruined, we're having ham" with a completely straight face, i yanked open the oven door to check on the turkey's progress.
"hardy har har," i said. oh, FIL, always the jokester.
less than an hour later, we poked the turkey with a meat thermometer to test it and found that it was done. brother wan did the honors of pulling it out of the oven, and we all "ooh"d and "aah"d. pretty, yes?
he carefully picked it up and out of the pan and transferred it to a platter:
and we were left with a crapload of pan drippings to strain and thicken for the gravy. with all that butter and bacon fat, i couldn't wait to sample the deliciousness of all that flavor.
grandma had decorated the table with cute little pilgrims (note the ginormous costco-sized vat of nutella, all ready to be spread on dinner rolls).
with the turkey and all of our side dishes finally in place, the table was complete and ready for us to dig in. we were about an hour behind schedule, which only gave us roughly half an hour before i had to take the teen to meet up with her dad for his part of the thanksgiving holiday.
after a bit of debate as to who got the honor of carving the turkey, we said grace and then got crackin' on filling our bellies.
i got to eat about half of my dinner before hopping in the car and fighting traffic to take the teen to the dropoff spot. i wasn't too sad, knowing i'd get to pick her up again the next day for my regularly scheduled week with her.
when i got back, the table was cleared and my plate was waiting for me in the microwave. i stuffed myself silly and took my plate to the sink. the half-eaten turkey carcass was sitting on the counter, waiting to be put out of its misery.
i gotta say, with as much bacon as we'd used in that bird, it didn't really make the meat taste like bacon. instead, it gave it a bit of that smoky flavor and kept it super moist (a word that i usually think is rather abhorrent, but is okay when used as a food term). brother wan and i got a lot of compliments on how awesome it came out, and that gravy was spectacular. it was probably the best tasting turkey i've ever eaten. made me quite happy.
finally, FIL took pity on the carcass and started carving it up to put in ziploc bags. that meat was going to make for some fabulous sandwiches later.
the bean, spent from the day, looked on while snuggling under a blanket on the couch.
bored, she got up to request a cookie and some milk. "picnic!" she exclaimed as she made herself comfy on the floor.
and then the resulting sugar rush led her to run around the house on her tiptoes.
we'd turned to our friend marie to supply the desserts for the evening. despite the fact that there were only nine of us present, we had no less than four different pies to choose from: pumpkin, french apple, chocolate cream, and cheesecake. when it comes to satisfying our sweet tooth, we don't mess around.
i took a slice of the chocolate cream (which was bought with me in mind, knowing i don't do the other flavors present) and added a dollop of the yummy rum sauce. that stuff always reminds me of butter rum life savers, and it makes the pie taste even better than it already does.