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In the years before my bariatric surgery in 2001, preparing a Thanksgiving meal would take me a week. I would spend weeks thinking about and finding the right recipes for too many dishes.
Now that we eat so much healthier, I make a shrimp cocktails, a small turkey, some roasted vegetables and a sugar free pumpkin custard. It takes me 90 minutes. While I am still a perfectionist, it’s really just a meal. Now that I have more to be thankful for and am at peace with myself, I spend less time on the food and we have a much nicer day.
My 3 best tips to get you through the day!
1. GENIUS: USE MEAT THERMOMETER!
The most reliable way to check the doneness of turkey is with a meat thermometer. Pull that plastic pop up thing out of your turkey and throw it into the trash. You can buy a digital thermometer for five dollars at the grocery store.
Test the temperature by sticking the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, without hitting the bone. When the internal temperature registers a steady 165°F in the thigh, your turkey is done. Remove it from the oven.
NO FOIL on a cooked turkey – the steam will make the skin soggy. Pre-op, I would eat most of the crispy skin on the entire turkey while I carved it in the kitchen, but now it (thankfully) makes me gag.
2. GENIUS GRAVY!
You have to moisten your sliced turkey in order for it to be bariatric friendly. Gravy is VERY easy if you create the flavorful liquid in your roasting pan while you are cooking your turkey. Look at all the gorgeous juices in this roasting pan of turkey thighs!
Lay a bed of sliced onion, apple, celery and fresh poultry herbs in a heavy roasting pan. (sometimes I use carrot, for this photo I did not) Rub the turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with Bells Poultry Seasoning and sea salt on all sides – place on top of the herb apple vegetable layer. The vegetables act as a rack.
Roast in preheated 350 degree oven until inner temperature has reached 165 on an instant read thermometer as discussed. Remove to a large platter. And now the GRAVY begins.
Pour 2 cups Swanson Natural Goodness chicken broth into the roasting pan and mash the roasted vegetables with a wooden spoon, scraping browned bits off sides and edges. Pour it all through a wire mesh strainer into a medium saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract all the flavor and goodness. Skim off the fat with a big spoon into a cup (pour the fat down the garbage disposal).
Bring your beautiful gravy stock to a boil and lower the heat to medium. NOW WE THICKEN IT. In a small bowl, mush together 2 tablespoons soft butter and 2 tablespoons flour – it will almost be like a soft dough (this is called a ‘beurre manie’ (fancy French word)). Add small pieces of this soft ‘dough’ to the simmering stock while whisking and cook until the gravy is smooth and glossy. Taste it and add salt if it needs some. Best gravy ever!
2.GENIUS PUMPKIN CUSTARD
No matter what our friends are serving, or how dry their turkey turns out, I have ALWAYS brought a sugar free NO PIE PUMPKIN PIE aka Spiced Pumpkin Custard. If the dinner is truly Bariatric Unfriendly or if it just isn’t working for me, I push it around on my plate knowing that I can have a dish of my soft smooth pumpkin custard!
This has saved me on more than one occasion! ALWAYS BE PREPARED. Happy Thanksgiving. Gratitude is an attitude. Love that person in the mirror.