Monday, November 21, 2011

Thinking about Thanksgiving

By Jenn Casey

(This post was originally published on my blog Rational Jenn, on November 10, 2011.)

Last year, I shared my Mostly Paleo Thanksgiving Menu, and boy am I ever glad I did, because I'm thinking about Thanksgiving again (2 weeks from today!) and that post gave me some good ideas.

See? This is the real reason I started blogging in the first place--to help me remember my own awesome ideas.

This year, it'll just be us, the nuclear family. It will be so fun, though it's nice to have friends and family over, too. Maybe next year. But Just Us means fewer dishes and less pressure to make a huge Thanksgiving spread. That's all kinds of YAY.

So here's what I'm thinking about for this year:

  • Prosciutto turkey roll (more on this in a bit)
  • Sausage stuffing because Brendan really really likes this, and I really like it, too (I know that it's supposed to be called dressing if you don't stuff it into a turkey, but we call it stuffing anyway and if you don't like it, you can . . . stuff it. :P)
  • Maybe the Rolls, I haven't decided. I think I will make them this year, because I'm pretty sure I can resist the urge to eat a million of them--bread isn't something I typically crave and when I do eat an occasional piece of bread I have no trouble eating just one piece and stopping. Also, I kind of want to make them with my kids and tell them stories about my grandmother and teach them how to make bread from scratch because it's fun.
  • Pumpkin Pie even though I have always disliked anything pumpkin, I make this for everyone else because I'm a nice person and want people to be happy. :) Also, there is something necessary about the smell of pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving week. Even though I don't eat it, I like the smell.
  • Maybe Key Lime Pie, I haven't decided. It sort of depends on if I make something for my birthday, which is the Monday before Thanksgiving. If I make something for my birthday, then I'll probably only have pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. If not, maybe I'll make something else. And it also depends on if I decide to run a 5K Thanksgiving morning. I'll definitely feel better about eating pie if I've run 5K that day! Key Lime pie is my usual Thanksgiving preference, but I could go for something chocolate or cheesecake-ish.

YUM. I probably shouldn't be writing this post before lunch, because now all I can think about is EATING LUNCH NOW.

Anyway, about the prosciutto-turkey breast thing. My sister gave me this recipe years ago, and I make this every few Thanksgivings or so. I don't have an actual recipe to share with you, but I'll briefly describe what it is to the best of my memory (I could probably put together an actual, you know, recipe, but only after I remember how to do it--which won't happen until Thanksgiving).

You take a boneless turkey breast and butterfly it, which as far as I can remember means make the turkey breast into one big flat piece. Then salt and pepper the inside if you want. Next, lay slices of prosciutto over the entire slab o'turkey.

This is the fun part. You can add lots of different things on top of the prosciutto. In past years, I've tried just sage, just bunches of rosemary, and maybe thyme. I've also sauteed some green onions in butter until they're a little translucent, and then added in some spinach, and then put the spinach-green onion mixture on top of the prosciutto. Basically, add something green and flavorful--it doesn't really matter.

Then, roll up the turkey breast and tie it up with kitchen string. This is the part where it's helpful to have a helper because the turkey breast, as I recall, dislikes being rolled up with all of that stuff inside it, so having one person roll it tight and another tie it up makes everything behave.

THEN THEN THEN, OMG THEN: cover the entire outside of the rolled up turkey with, get this . . . wait for it . . . pancetta! You can use bacon if you'd prefer, but in my opinion, the pancetta is totally worth the price.

Then cook it! Oh look, here's a similar recipe I found thanks to the magic of Google and the Internets. There's no pancetta outer layer in this recipe, so it's clearly inferior to my sister's, but you get a picture of what my turkey breast roll usually looks like, and some helpful cooking hints, too.

Now I will confess that I generally prefer the dark meat on turkeys and chickens, but this turkey breast turns out moist and flavorful every time (thanks to the prosciutto and pancetta!) and it doesn't require the same amount of cooking time that a whole bird does. Which makes it a good Thanksgiving option when it's just the five of us.

Okay, now I'm REALLY hungry. And looking forward to Thanksgiving. But first--lunch!

(PS: What are you having for Thanksgiving?)

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