Turkey-stuffing-gravy-cranberry sauce is a deep, uncontestable truism. The Thanksgiving menu is just non-negotiable for some people, especially the people I love (and cook for.) But this year, I have decided to make the most delicious, gourmet, traditional Thanksgiving I can on a budget. The rules I have set out for myself are as follows: the most important thing is that everything tastes amazing, that the food is traditional and elegant, and that I can bring the grocery bill as close to $100 as possible (not including wine.) I'm cooking for six which is a much smaller group than usual but these guidelines work for doubling, tripling etc. This year I am only using seriously time-tested, majorly trustworthy recipes.
The Big, Beautiful, Budget Thanksgiving Menu:
Roast Turkey with gravy
Sage, sausage and apple stuffing
Best ever Sauteed Brussel Sprouts
Fresh cranberry relish and traditional cranberry sauce
Home made pumpkin pie
This recipe, for a simple, roast turkey is really easy and turns out a delicious bird. It calls for a 16 pound bird which feeds 12 people. I am going to make a 10 pound bird and adjust the time accordingly. Here's a handy chart:
Approximate Turkey Cooking Times:
The new roasting times are based on the recommendations above and on a 325 degree F. oven temperature. These times are approximate and should always be used in conjunction with a properly placed meat thermometer.
4 to 8 pounds.............1-1/2 to 3-1/4 hours
8 to 12 pounds................2-3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds...............3 to 3-3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds...............3-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds...............4-1/4 to 4-1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds...............4-1/2 to 5 hours
8 to 12 pounds................3 to 3-1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds...............3-1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds...............4 to 4-1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds...............4-1/4 to 4-3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds...............4-3/4 to 5-1/4 hours
SIMPLE ROAST TURKEY WITH RICH GRAVY
All the special equipment you need for this recipe is in bold....
1 16 lb turkey at room temperature for one hour. Neck and giblets removed and reserved.
1 Tbs salt
1 3/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups water
7-8 cups turkey stock
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbs cider vinegar
1- Put oven rack in the lowest position and pre-heat oven to 450. Pat the turkey dry and make sure there aren't any feathers, quills etc still on it. Sprinkle turkey cavities with salt and pepper. Fold neck skin under body and secure with a metal skewer. Tie drumsticks together with kitchen string and fold wings under body.
2-Put turkey on rack in roasting pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan and roast without basting rotating pan halfway through roasting, until meat thermometer inserted into fleshy part of the thigh (test both thighs and make sure not to touch the bone) registers at 170.
3- Carefully tilt the turkey so that juices from inside the large cavity run into the roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to a platter, then cover loosely with tin foil and allow it to sit for 30 minutes while you make the gravy.
4- Pour the pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup then skim off and discard fat. If you have a fat separator pour the pan juices into the separator and let stand until the fat rises to the top, which will take about 2 minutes. Carefully pour pan juices from the separator into a measuring cup.
5- Straddle the roasting pan across two burners and add remaining cup of water and deglaze the roasting pan by boiling over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits for 1 minute. Pour through sieve into measuring cup containing pan juices. Add enough turkey stock to pan juices to bring total to 8 cups.
6- Melt butter in a 4-quart heavy pot and stir in the flour. Cook this mixture (called a roux), whisking over a moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add stock in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Stir in any turkey juices that have accumulated on the platter and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the cider vinegar.
Here's some further reading about making a fabulous budget Thanksgiving: