I've got a confession to make....I was never really brought up on Thanksgiving, despite what my American heritage may lead people to believe. Most of this is down to the fact that I grew up in Nigeria where the concept just doesn't exist. As a result of spending time in the US during my early adult life (I can't say that I am much more of an adult now) I have grown to appreciate this American Holiday and now bug A to ensure that he will be ready for it every November from here on out...
The first (and some might say worst) part of Thanksgiving seems to be getting everything cooked and ready to go. Inspired by a video from Chef Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago from a few, we decided to test the waters and see how easy we could make this for ourselves. Yes we have access to a professional kitchen but we've done things the exact same way we would do at home. We've already talked about the benefits of brining as part of an article with Good Things Magazine but getting ahead on things like slow-cooked sweet potatoes and braising your greens actually make them taste even better on the day.
Below are the recipes that we've used (roughly!) but this is by no means a definitive guide as to how to do things. In 4 weeks from now it will be Christmas so there is no reason why we can't all be organised, prepped up and ready to go so we can make our lives easier on “The Big Day”. Please comment below and let us know what you think or if there is anything we've missed. R.
1. In a large pot place the water, salt, sugar, spices, garlic & herbs, then squeeze in the halved lemons and add the squeezed halves, bring this mixture to a boil ensuring the salt & sugar have dissolved.
2. In a large bucket, pour the brine mixture and immediately add the ice stirring it into the brine until it has melted and the brine is cold.
3. Add your turkey to the brine and let it brine for 4 hours in a fridge.
4. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry, then either cook sous-vide at 60 C for 3 hours OR poach in a large pot of water (kept around the 60-70 C mark) in a zip-lock back with butter and sage for 1.5 hours then cool and reserve until needed.
5. On the day, pre-heat an oven to 250 C. Sear all sides of the unbagged turkey in a hot pan and then roast for 10 minutes until hot through.
Slow-Cooked Sweet Potatoes
Slow-cooking sweet potatoes first with spices and other aromatics allows the flavours to come together. Not only that but as some moisture leeches from the sweet potatoes during the cooking process it brings with it some of the natural sugars from inside of the potatoes themselves. When the slow-cooking step is done the potatoes get left with an amazing layer of natural sweetness that sits on the surface which will become all sticky, oozy and caramelised when you cook them for the second time in a blazing hot oven.
1. Pre-heat oven to 140 C.
2. In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients together until well mixed then place onto a layer of foil.
3. Wrap the potatoes tightly in 3 layers of foil until well-sealed. Place onto a tray and cook in oven for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the foil.
4. On the day, pre-heat an oven to 250 C. Open up the foil, cook until really caramelised and hot through, about 14 minutes.
Braised Kale (aka Collard Greens)
1. Sweat the onions, celery, garlic and salt together with a little bit of oil (or rendered pork fat if you'd like!).
2. Over high heat add the kale and sherry vinegar allowing them to caramelise a bit as you stir until they start to become tender.
3. Turn the heat to medium/low and slowly add the water in about 5 different additions, watching as it evaporates slowly until there is only a little liquid remaining.
4. While warm, place into a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, allowing to cool in the fridge.
5. On the day, reheat over a low heat in a pot with a lid on it. Serve immediately!