An Evening to Be Thankful For

Yesterday I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner, and it was a terrific success! Originally expecting to have only 8 friends over, the list quickly blossomed to 15! For those of you who know my place, fitting that many people at a dinner table was not an easy feat. Yet there we were, 15 friends gathering for the year’s most thankful (and indulgent) dinner. It couldn’t have been a more perfect evening.
This was also my first time making a Roast Turkey (commence panic mode). I probably considered over 20 different recipes while planning this, but the biggest question I had was on brining. There was a 50/50 take on this – some say it works wonder, others say it’s a complete waste of time. Having never cooked a turkey, I of course had no idea which to trust. At the end, I went with the brine; I am so happy I did!
Brining may seem scary, but it’s not actually that intimidating (though finding the space in your refrigerator might be). The basic components of a brine are salt and water – meats immersed in this solution . Brining works through diffusion and osmosis – the brining water, which has a high concentration of salt, moves to where there is a lower concentration in the meat. In permeating the meat’s cells, the water becomes “locked” into the meat, creating a perfectly moist roast as result. Seasoning are often added to brines to give the meat more flavor.
That being said, brining takes time – I left mine in the fridge for about 18 hours. I bought a brining bag to place the turkey in…and I highly suggest having a second hand to help lift the turkey into the bag (this coming from the near catastrophe I had trying to do this myself). I chose an 18-lb fresh turkey – fresh is key, as frozen turkeys often have higher sodium content (unless you go organic).
The stock for the gravy is made in the pan while the turkey roasts – it’s an added step, but creates one of the most flavorful gravies you will ever make! Unfortunately, I was unable to snap a photo of the finished product in the dinner rush. It makes a lot of gravy, which your friends will be extremely grateful for. If you are looking to impress, go with this recipe – you’ll be extremely please (and so will your friends!) Click HERE to learn how to make this perfect centerpiece to your Thanksgiving meal!
Seeing how this was my first-ever Roast Turkey (and that first Thanksgiving I’ve hosted), I felt it only appropriate to (finally) showcase a work by Gustav Mahler. Though he was primarily known as a conductor during his own lifetime, Mahler’s symphonies are among the most prominent of the orchestral repertoire. These large-scale works utilize the full orchestral force, and are lush with rich musical content. In spirit of this being my first Thanksgiving, I chose his Symphony No. 1. in D Major.  The symphony took him nearly two years to complete, and was premiered with the orchestra he was the conductor of at that time. Though it is a lengthy work (just under an hour), it is extremely beautiful and difficult to not enjoy, like our Thanksgiving: though the dinner was a lot of effort and quite demanding, it too became an occasion of wonderful friends and great food that was meant to be enjoyed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UskC4VILUeg

Sources Cited:
“Symphony No. 1 (Mahler),” Wikipedia.com.

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