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Forky Friday: Nomtastic Thanksgiving Roundup!

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Forky Friday: Thanksgiving Smorgasbord by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Today’s Forky Friday is all about getting you ready for Turkey Day!

Yes, I know Thanksgiving’s still days away, but it’s not too early to get crackin’—especially if your frozen turkey still needs to be thawed. Besides, the weekend’s the perfect time to get a head start on the ginormous feast you’ll be devouring come Thursday. Ideally, you can prep most of your sides beforehand so you can focus on the turkey on Thanksgiving.

Forky Friday: Thanksgiving Smorgasbord by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Me? I’ll be reporting to work at the hospital on Thursday night, so I’ll miss the holiday fun—but you can still enjoy the nomtastic Turkey Day menu I put together for you!

To recap, here are the festive autumn dishes you should prepare (or strong-arm your friends and family into making for you):

Butterflied Big Bird (Spatchcocked Thanksgiving Turkey)

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Warm Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Asian Citrus Dressing

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Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

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Roasted Garlic Autumn Mash

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Umami Gravy

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Paleo Pumpkin, Coconut, & Maple Custard Cups

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But that’s not all! If you head over to my Recipe Index, you’ll find LOADS of other free recipes that are perfect for your Paleo Thanksgiving. Here are just some of ’em:

Brussels Sprouts Chips

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Garlic Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

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Pressure Cooker Braised Kale and Carrots

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Roasted Broccoli With Crispy Prosciutto & Balsamic Vinegar

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Bacon

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Butterflied Big Bird (Spatchcocked Turkey)

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It’s Part 1 of my Nomtastic Thanksgiving series!

Butterflied Big Bird (Thanksgiving Turkey!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

No, I said BUTTERFLIED—not BUTTERFRIED. Sorry to disappoint, butter lovers! And for you strict Paleo peeps, a note of warning: there’s butter in this recipe, though ghee is a fantastic substitute. (If you’re zero-tolerance when it comes to all forms of dairy, substitute duck fat or schmaltz.)

With this post, I’m starting a series of Thanksgiving-related recipe posts, and I figured I’d tackle the hardest one first. Every November, the prospect of roasting a whole turkey strikes fear into the hearts of even experienced cooks. The entire process—from picking a bird to carving it—can be daunting. No one wants to serve a dry, powdery turkey to their gathered friends and family…especially if you’ve got an in-law who’s just waiting to pounce on a kitchen blunder. But never fear: even if Olivia Soprano is your mother-in-law, this foolproof method will keep you in her good graces.

Butterflied Big Bird (Thanksgiving Turkey!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Step One: Pick a Bird

This article by Serious Eats covers everything you need to know about selecting a turkey. (In fact, it covers all things turkey.)

By the way, I learned a valuable lesson this year: Don’t get greedy. The first turkey I roasted to test this recipe was waaaaay too big. The gigantic 18-pounder(!) that I bought from Tendergrass Farms was delicious and came out beautifully (It’s the one I photographed for this post!), but it barely fit in my oven. My second bird (which I didn’t photograph) was a much more manageable 12-pounder that actually fit on my roasting tray.

Step Two: Gear Up

For my recipe, you’ll want to make sure you have a sharp, sturdy pair of poultry shears (to tear through thin bones and cartilage like a skilled orthopedic surgeon). You’ll also need an oven-proof wire rack and a baking sheet or large broiling pan.

Lastly, you’ll need an accurate meat thermometer to ensure perfectly cooked meat. If you don’t want to keep having to open the oven to check your turkey, your best bet is to get an in-oven thermometer.

Butterflied Big Bird (Thanksgiving Turkey!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

Seriously: a meat thermometer is not negotiable. It’s the only way to make sure you don’t overcook your big, pricey turkey and disappoint your guests. 

Step Three: Mark Your Calendars

If you don’t want to eat turkey-flavored popsicles on Thanksgiving, you have to start thawing your bird in the fridge beginning on the Friday or Saturday before Turkey Day. It’ll take 3 or 4 days to fully defrost, and then you’ll want  to dry-brine the bird and let it sit for 1 or 2 more days in the fridge before roasting.

On Thanksgiving Day, make sure you allow for at least 30 minutes of resting time before you carve up the bird. So if you want the bird on the table by early afternoon, you need to pop it in the oven in the morning.

Step Four: Cook!

My Butterflied Big Bird recipe combines Judy Rodgers’ dry-brining techniques with J. Kenji López-Alt’s Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey and my own simple herb butter.

Butterflied Big Bird (Thanksgiving Turkey!) by Michelle Tam http://nomnompaleo.com

The turkey is spatchcocked and dry-brined with kosher salt, and then left to sit loosely-covered in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. Underneath the crispy skin, the tender meat is flavored with an herb-infused butter (or ghee, if you prefer).

Ready?

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