I cooked two turkeys during the month of November. That is two more turkeys to add to the list of turkeys I’ve cooked in my lifetime, bringing my total to four. I wish I could have written about this in a more timely manner, but I’m still recovering from many, many days of celebration.
The first turkey – nicknamed Reginald P. Birdington – was for the annual friendsgiving (for the lack of a better term) that I host with my friends Jen and Liza the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This event is officially called “Cheese?giving” as it is derived from the name of the fake band that we – shockingly, soberly – started in college. We started this as a way to get all of our friends together when we moved to New York City after college and it has been a success for three years now. Each year we provide the turkey and a few other things but request that our guests bring appetizers, side dishes, desserts and beverages to add to the mix.
Reginald P. Birdington – also known to some as Reginald B. Turkington – was about twenty-five pounds, making him our largest Cheese?giving turkey to date. (We probably ended up having forty people so…a turkey this hefty was pretty necessary.) His preparation was certainly a group effort. Liza picked him up and started the brining process – with brine from the Greenpoint Trading Co. – twenty-four hours before we started cooking him.
Jen and I went to Liza’s the night before to discuss other preparations for the party, but we ended up drinking several bottles of wine and eating large amounts of sushi, which was great for my digestion. We had pretty much everything we needed anyway. I got up super early the next morning, went grocery shopping and headed back over to Liza’s, still burping up what was basically ceviche at that point. We successfully hefted the bird with brine bag out of the refrigerator and into the sink, took the bird out of the brine bag and (mercifully) spilled only a little bit of the brine on the floor. Then we shoved him into his roasting pan and into the oven and disinfected the entire kitchen.
I didn’t take too many pictures of the other things we made, because I was using my phone to play music for most of the day. (Spotify playlist here: Cheesegiving. I suggest listening on shuffle as I was too lazy to order the songs.) We spent the remaining hours before the party making cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts (that I made with this Martha Stewart recipe and never served because there was too much on the table) and a few other things. I had just as much fun preparing everything as I did at the actual party!
Even though we were nervous about turnout and being able to serve and clean up so much food out of a small kitchen, everything worked out really well. It seemed like all of our guests were happy, well fed and drunk, which is exactly what we wanted. The night ended just as it should have, with someone throwing up all over the floor at 4 am. I give a hearty thank you to my partners in Cheese? for putting together such a successful evening and to all of our friends who attended for partying.
The second turkey I cooked was much smaller. My immediate family had our very first Thanksgiving with just the eight of us at home last week. My mom and I planned the menu together. My mom made mashed potatoes, green beans, butternut squash and apple pie. I was responsible for the following:
– Turkey (using this Tom Colicchio recipe)
– Cranberry sauce (from Simply Recipes, also made this for Cheese?giving even though I really do like the kind that comes from a can)
– Stuffing (from Ina Garten, Jen made this for Cheese?giving)
– Pumpkin swirl brownies (using the Smitten Kitchen recipe, without cayenne pepper because my mom refused to buy it)
Despite nursing a modest hangover due to night-before-Thanksgiving festivities, I managed to make everything pretty tasty. (Props to Advil and coffee.)
Once dinner time rolled around, I think we all had a pretty nice time hanging out together. Only like twenty poop jokes were made during dinner and my family even made a toast to me for doing much of the cooking. Then we – well, not really me – cleaned up which led to a Beyoncé dance party in the kitchen with all six Flannery kids.
Very good times were had by all.