Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Aftermath

Fun fact: Spatchcock, in addition to being a method of preparing a fowl prior to roasting, is also an incredibly awkward-looking pole dance maneuver.  Either way, it means you end up with legs that are at an acute angle in relation to the head.

I had a great deal of difficulty cutting the spine out of the turkey, and had to resort to using Jon's tin snips, because my kitchen shears are useless. It was an incredibly gory operation and my kitchen looked like a crime scene when I was finished. Apologies to those of you who follow me on Instagram and already saw this horror show.

A photo posted by Aileen Bartels (@aileenbartels) on

Once you've finished violently wrenching out its spine, you flip the turkey over and perform CPR on it until its sternum snaps and you end up with a splayed out bird that allegedly will roast much faster than if you had left it in its natural state.

I used the Bon Appetit recipe that was circulating the internet. You brine the turkey in orange zest and aniseed and then baste it with olive oil infused with more orange and aniseed.  It was mostly a success, although the orange flavor didn't really come through and I didn't wash the brine off thoroughly enough, so bits of it were salty. But also tender and juicy with a subtle hint of anise. It took a lot longer to roast than the recipe said and we finally gave up and ate it.

A photo posted by Aileen Bartels (@aileenbartels) on

Could have used about twenty minutes more in the oven.

We stick to a pretty traditional menu, but I always like to try at least one new dish. This year's newcomer was a sweet potato/swiss chard gratin from Smitten Kitchen. It was delicious and worth the time it took to prepare three pounds of Swiss chard. Five stars! Would make again!

Aside from the food, it was lovely to have all four children home for the holiday. Even Ian slept over on Thanksgiving night, though he lives only a mile away. In our quirky old house, all the bedrooms open up to each other, so when everyone is asleep, with our collective breath heating up our tiny bedrooms, it reminds me of a cozy beehive. It was wonderful to be the first one up on Friday morning and to see all of my children - even though they're young adults now - safely tucked into bed and sound asleep.

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. What was your most successful dish this year?


  1. How lovely to have them all home!

  2. I spiralized sweet potatoes and roasted them and am a new convert as I've never liked sweet potatoes in the past. I also cooked a chicken (we're not big on turkey) and it was done 30 minutes early. Surprise! I don't think I've ever cooked a chicken that's done when I think it will be. Must be my math or my oven. Or both.

  3. We don't really celebrate Thanksgiving down here in NZ, but Turkey and Ham is still traditional at Christmas.
    I actually prefer mince ... or even a nice steak.

  4. Wow. I guess I'm glad I'm not on Instagram. I don't deal well with gore.

    Bravo on making a new dish! Last year I made a cranberry salsa and it was a hit. This year I had some vegan guests so I made a new recipe of mukimame rice.

    And yes, it is SO lovely to have all the children home.

  5. What a treat to have everyone under one roof!
    That turkey looks obscene. Sorry.