Cook BIG

If you can roll up your sleeves and show your tatoos, Monday is a great day to kick frozen dinners to the curb and get a turkey in the oven. You don’t have to buy one the size and temperature of our frozen state up north, just buy a turkey breast. A six pound breast will roast in just over an hour, and will keep you happy until Wednesday with sandwiches, what-to-eat-from-the-fridge-at-midnight, and how about turkey pot pie? Did you know that some people are known to have married other people because they could make turkey pot pie? I don’t recommend it, I’m just telling you the facts, and I’ll tell you how to do it tomorrow, when you have all of that extra meat ready to be pulled off the bones.
Because it’s so cold outside, it would be a good thing to make gravy, and maybe some sauteed swiss chard with garlic, some mashed sweet potatoes with butter, and how about corn bread? I love corn bread. And black eyed peas! For salad you could just slice up an avocado and serve it with watercress and grape tomatoes.
For the turkey, PULL OUT EVERYTHING THAT IS INSIDE. Throw the neck into a sauce pan with an onion cut in half, a carrot, a piece of celery, a bay leaf, a sprig of parsley, or whatever you have out of that list. Let this cook until the turkey is ready. Do not wash the turkey, (this only spreads any kind of bacterial growth that might be on the skin) just blot it well with paper towels. Season the turkey all over, inside and out with kosher salt, cut a whole head of garlic in half horizontally, and set that into a baking pan that has been glistened with olive oil. Add a few sprigs of rosemary, and set the turkey on top. Roast in a 375 degree oven, adding a few Tablespoons of water after the first fifteen minutes. Continue to baste with water every fifteen to twenty minutes until a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees in the thickest part. Over a 150 degreese kills everything, and if you cook it much longer, you get very dry meat. Remove all the fat you can from the liquid in the bottom, and discard. Make a roux by combining a few Tablespoons of butter, and a few Tablespoons of flour in a heavy saute pan. Whisk around until the flour is cooked, (about two to three minutes). Add a pinch of salt, and then ladle in your turkey stock, a bit at a time, off the heat, whisking constantly, until the flour mixture is smooth and more liquid than paste. Now it’s safe to add a good cup of stock without getting lumps. Put the fire back under the pot, and simmer until the gravy is as thick as you like it; add the reserved cooking liquid from the turkey to taste.
For the cornbread, use your favorite recipe, or make creamed corn! Reduce a half pint of heavy cream with a garlic clove and a sprig of thyme (or just the garlic) over a low flame until the garlic clove is soft. Add two small boxes of frozen corn, and season with salt and pepper.
Make the mashed sweet potatoes, the same way you would make regular potatoes, crowding them into a pan, and getting the water, just to the top of the potatoes. Make sure the water is seasoned with salt, and cook them over low heat until fork tender. Add butter and a little milk.
Cut up half an onion and cook it slowly over low to medium heat with a whole clove of garlic, and a sprig of marjoram. If you have a red pepper, chop it finely and throw it in. Season with salt, some red pepper flakes, and add a well rinsed can of black eyed peas. For liquid, either add about a half of a cup of your turkey stock, or just plain water. Finish with a little chopped parsley and a drizzle of your best olive oil.
When all this done, and you are still feeling like Betty Crocker with big muscles, you can make a fruit crumble. Cut up six pears or apples, forget peeling them, just get the cores out, and set them in a pan. Over the top sprinkle a mixture of half a cup of brown sugar, a quarter cup of cold cut up butter, one cup of flour, and a pinch of salt. If you like cinnamon, add it either to the fruit with a quarter cup of sugar. Bake at 350 degrees.

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