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Monday, October 12, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 - A Savoury Affair

Well, it was that time of year again... Thanksgiving.

Well... it is for us Canadians, anyway.

Personally I like having a good feast-y kind of holiday in October... it's when there is a ton of fresh food available (after the harvest), and I've never understood why Americans like having their T-G so close to Christmas.  But whatevs.. to each their own Thanksgiving I suppose.

This year we were just on our own, the wife and I, so we cooked a very small chicken.  She was barely over 2 pounds.

And copious sides.

Really, the wife is all about the sides, and I'm all about the wife, so that means this T-G was all about the sides!


I started with a kick-ass chicken from Roast.  I've extolled the awesomeness of Roast before, but in case you've missed it, you need to check them out.  Even if you're not from the neighbourhood, it's a great place.

Yah, it was only a couple of pounds, but that's more than enough for the wife and I.  I brought it home and did a dry brine of coarse salt and fresh summer savoury, under the skin.

Which turned out to be a great combo BTW.

That only sat for about 24 hours in the fridge, dry-brining, but I was glad it had all got soaked/jellied up.

When I was ready to start cooking it, I took it out and rubbed some more savoury and salt and pepper on the outside of the skin.  Then I brushed some melted butter on top for good measure.

Then, I cranked my oven up to bursting (525°F) and when it was heated, I put the chicken in.  The trick is to maximize surface area during the sear stage, so I have this trick where I put a wire cage insert into my roasting pot first.  This lifts up the bird and has it so that it is basically entirely exposed to that super hot, dry, air.

This crisps up the skin in no time at all.  In fact, after about 10 minutes only, we were done, and she was super crisp and golden.

So, I carefully (with the wife's help) remove the cage and then I hastily deglazed the pot with about a cup of white wine, making sure to scrape the sides of all the good gribblies.  Once that is done, I plop the chicken back in, this time resting right on the bottom of the pot.  I shoved the cavity with a few sprigs of summer savoury, and then plugged the hole with an entire apple (I cored it only because I didn't want to have to pick seeds out of the gravy).

During this period, I've turned the oven down to 225° F, and opened the oven door to help it cool faster.

Then I grab my trusty meat thermometer, set it to 185° F, insert it in a thick spot above the leg, put the lid of the pot on, and--once the oven hits 225° F, in it all goes!

I didn't take any photos up until this point.

But, I decided to from here on, and starting with my first check/basting of the chicken.

At this point she was only about half-way done, and it was a perfect time to insert some juice back under the skin.  I wasn't TRULY worried about her drying out; with the lid on and everything, she really stays quite moist... but I had ripped the skin in a few places doing the dry brine, and I just wanted to make sure those areas stayed moist.

Anyway, while that is slow cooking at a low temperature, I cooked up five different sides.  Five sides for two people.  What did I tell you about the wife being all about the sides?  Well... yah...

First was the potatoes.  Just straight up potatoes, but I didn't peel them.  I boiled them with some summer savoury, and then drained them, and put the whole thing in a food processor.  Technically you shouldn't use a processor to mash potatoes... but I wanted whipped potatoes for a change.  So, a little bit of milk and butter (and a secret special splash of truffle oil) and some more summer savoury, salt and pepper, and it gets nice and frothy.

I learned a trick to keep potatoes warm, and put them all in my slow cooker for an hour or two.

It worked brilliantly and they were super warm still when it came time to eat.


The other sides were sweet potatoes, corn, peas, and brussel sprouts.

I also snuck some summer savoury into the sweet potatoes.

It's easy enough to just pick out the sweet potatoes once they're cooked.

In case you haven't been able to tell, but summer savoury is the theme for tonight's Thanksgiving.  I have long been a fan of savoury, but I actually found some FRESH savoury this year at one of the local farmers' markets.  I couldn't believe it!  I was so excited!

It ended up making my entire car smell like weed (who would have thought it had a skunky aroma?) on the drive home, but it was very tasty stuff!

Well, time passes... an hour and half or so later, my meat thermometer alarm goes off, and I took out the bird when she was at exactly 187° F.

She got set aside and put on a grooved cutting board to rest for about 10 minutes while I plated all the sides, and made the gravy.

There were a ton of great juices in the bottom of the pan, so all I had to do was add some salt, pepper, and cornstarch.

And periodically poured more juice from the cutting board.

Yup, there was a delicious gravy going on.


Here are a quick bunch of shots of all the veggies:

And then I carved the meat.

So juicy and tender!

So delightfully flavourful.

The apple was subtle and not really registering in the 'sweet' at all, and the salty herby flavours came through most dominantly.

The potatoes did not look very appetizing in whipped form, but damn if they weren't delicious.  Part of that could have been the truffle oil.

But all in all it was a delicious feast, and we were very thankful indeed!

Gotta have a close-up shot of the gravy!!!


And my plate:


And, post-gravy:

Yay Thanksgiving!