Turkey or No Turkey – We Are Feasting!

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TURKEY or no TURKEY this year, we will FEAST!

The holiday season is officially here! We have lots to make up for now that “cov-ending” seems closer than ever. We can finally hug our families and feast together. There’s so much to be thankful for and there’s no better way to celebrate than with lots of good food!

For many, holiday anxiety kicks in when thinking about what to feed their friends and family. And now, word on the street is that there is a turkey shortage, so we are beginning to freak out!

BUT, let’s not overcomplicate things. It is more stressful to plan a table full of appetizers and snacks than an actual dinner. In my house, it’s Thanksgiving every weekend! Maybe we don’t have turkey or use our best plate settings, but we have a big family meal.

If you use your oven for storage, are too lazy to use it, or are afraid of it, this post is for you!

The oven is your best friend!

We love our fancy crockpots and getting the husband to grill but your food will never reach its highest quality unless it takes its time in that dusty electrical box.

You know what? This year you can pardon your turkey if need be and work with what you can. As an ex-pat, I don’t get to experience a big family Thanksgiving meal. Our special dinner is usually for our family of four – the husband, my two kids, and me. So, instead of just roasting a turkey for the sake of the holiday and letting so much food go to waste I switch things up a bit. I roast Cornish Hens, a whole chicken, or a prime rib. They are delicious, look beautiful, and are worth every second of our time and dedication.

It is easy to feed a crowd with these.

Did I mention they are easier to roast than a turkey?!

Cornish Hens & Roasted Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

Take note: This recipe calls for two dishes in one! Both poultries can be seasoned the same way (get creative with your spices). Account 1 Cornish Hen per adult and one for every 2 children. I always calculate 1 teaspoon per pound when working with proteins; you can adjust it to your liking. Because Cornish Hens and whole Chickens differ in size you want to make sure that they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees before removing them from the oven.

Seasoning: Rub with room temperature butter, 1 minced garlic clove per hen, or 4 cloves for one whole chicken. Salt (1 tsp per LB), 1 tsp black pepper, Herbs de Provence, or any fresh or dried herbs you have on hand (rosemary, parsley, thyme).

Stuffing: (Optional) Different from turkey you can insert your desired stuffing into your hens or chicken. Keep in mind that their inner cavity should reach a temperature of 165. If you want to play it safe you can stuff them after you remove them from the oven. *Remember that the chicken MUST BE COOKED THROUGH to avoid food-borne illness.

Prepping: Vegetables will serve as your roasting rack. Cut potatoes, carrots, and onions into 2-inch cubes, plus 2 whole lemons cut in half. Spread them evenly on your baking dish or baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place your hens or chicken on top.

Roasting: Preheat your oven to 450. Turn it down to 400 and roast your poultry uncovered. Four Cornish hens will take around the same time as 1 whole chicken to roast.  After 55 minutes, check their internal temperature. The thickest part of the breast should reach a temperature of 160 degrees. This recipe is for 4 Cornish hens. Keep in mind that the cooking time will increase the more you add.

Serving: Remove the poultry and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Turn your vegetables a few times in the oven. If fork tender you can remove them and pour them on your serving dish. Place your chickens on top and add some fresh herbs and sliced lemons for decor and pictures.

Prime Rib

It is also called Rib Roast or Holiday Roast. Three ribs will feed 8-10 people. Account for about a pound per person when purchasing your roast. Most stores set some out in the meat section. However, if you can’t find it you can ask the butcher for one or visit your local butcher shop.

We will use the easiest method which is the ‘closed oven method.

Seasoning: Rub all around with butter and sprinkle salt generously. Don’t be stingy with the salt because it is a big chunk of meat. 2 tbsp Herbs de Provence or just some minced fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and parsley.

Roasting: Set your oven to 500 degrees. Calculate your time by counting 5 minutes per pound. If you have a 5lb roast it will only need to cook for 25 minutes at 500 degrees. When the time is up, turn your oven off and let your rib roast rest for 2 hours before opening the door. Your meat needs an internal temperature of 130 degrees before taking it out. Let it rest some time longer until it reaches 120 degrees so the juices remain in place.

In the end, Thanksgiving dinner has nothing to do with turkey but the fact that the entire family is sitting at the same table and enjoying each other’s company.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

FELIZ DIA DE ACCION DE GRACIAS

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Kairym was born and raised in Puerto Rico and has spent her entire life immersed in different cultures. She is multilingual (Spanish, English, German, basic French) and has lived in 10 different states and countries. After her husband's active duty service, in the Air Force, was completed (2015) they decided to set roots in Pensacola with their two children Juliana (10) and Marco (7). Kairym loves to travel abroad, go to the beach, dance, paddleboard, brunch, cook, and entertain. But, what she loves most is dedicating her time and energy to her husband and kids. She is the CEO of her family and no matter how crazy mom life gets, she always finds time to whip up nice dinners from scratch. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, she has cooked more than 500 decadent meals. You can follow her culinary adventures @frommykitchentotheworld on Facebook or on Instagram at Chateaucruzlischpensacola.

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