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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Turkey

Phew! Thanksgiving is over! I love the holiday and the focus on family and friends, but I don't know how my mom did it all of those years!

My family is large. We regularly have 30+ people at family events...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. So I thought I was used to a large group for holidays, but I quickly realized that my small apartment in France was going to be a challenge in order to host 32 dinner guests. First, my refrigerator is about 3/4 the size of an American fridge, and the same goes for my oven. We decided to get mid- to large-sized turkey and then supplement with ham so that we would be able to fit the turkey into the oven and still have enough food for everyone. The turkey ended up being a whopping 23-pounder! It barely fit in my oven:


But it did, and besides trying to keep all of the potluck dishes hot until everything was ready to serve, all went smoothly. We cleared out our living/dining room, set up every table we had, and we all fit (just barely). All of the students seemed to have a wonderful time, and piled their plates high with the food they've been craving from home.

I stressed about what to do with the turkey for days, but decided on a very simple preparation since it was my first time cooking one. And I actually decided not to cook the turkey overnight because I was afraid it would set my apartment on fire since it was so big and close to the heating elements. I rubbed the inside with salt and stuffed the cavity with onions, celery, carrots, and a leek. I also put a piece of each of those on the bottom of the roasting pan to flavor the juices even more. On the outside, I cut up about 1/2 stick of butter and placed them in strategic places around the turkey (i.e., where they wouldn't fall off right away). Then I roasted it for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees F and then lowered the temperature to 325F until the turkey was done. Everything I came across said that this sized turkey should be done in about 4 1/2-5 hours, but mine only took a little over 4 hours. I think it may have been because this turkey was super fresh. (Here in Strasbourg, you have to special order whole turkeys, so they come straight from the farm.)

The final, beautiful result (which even I was surprised about!):


And finally, a picture of one of the breasts, larger than my husband's hand:

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