The List: The Most Delicious Turkey I've Ever Made (And a Documentary That Warned Me Not to Eat It)

Plus the best Black Friday purchase I've ever made is still on sale!
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A view of snow-topped mountains from yesterday's hike in Griffith Park!

A view of snow-topped mountains from yesterday's hike in Griffith Park!

Aaannd we're back! I hope you all had a restful Thanksgiving break, and your post-break inbox isn't nearly as painful as your turkey hangover was on Friday morning. I'm going to be honest. As much as I love coming into work, I thought I would dread coming in today after the long weekend, but then the exact opposite happened: This morning I woke up two minutes before my alarm went off, and felt excited and energized to head into the office, which I attribute to actually allowing myself time to unwind over the holidays. 

Last week, I took advantage of the slow pace at work (a lot of our company was either traveling or working from home) and took Monday and Tuesday off, in addition to Thursday and Friday. And I spent them doing absolutely nothing. I deleted Instagram off my phone (which I do every once in a while for a refresh) and spent entire days in my pajamas. I read books, went to movies, and cooked ambitious meals, just because. On Tuesday, the most productive thing I did was see Jojo Rabbit (which I LOVED) then sit in the sauna of my favorite Korean spa with a book. As someone who rarely slows down, I didn't anticipate that doing nothing could feel so productive, but the proof is how I feel today. Before Thanksgiving, I felt uninspired but also overwhelmed looking at my December workload, but today I feel like I could tackle anything work and life throws at me. There are three more packed weeks until we leave for Christmas and I'm ready for it. Bring it on! Here's what else I'm loving this week: 

1

We all know I've gone back and forth on a plant-based diet. I've been vegan, I've been an omnivore, and these days the pendulum has settled somewhere in the middle. I eat primarily plant-based but have been known to throw fish and poultry into the mix on occasion (see "Best Turkey ever" below). This weekend, Jonah and I watched the documentary The Game Changers on Netflix, which is basically Super-Size Me for veganism. It sets forth a pretty convincing argument for going vegan, from a health and physical performance perspective. As my nutritionist friend warns me, diets are far from "one fits all," and what may work for one person may be the last thing another person needs for their health, but it's safe to say I'm intrigued and inspired! It's well worth a watch, and maybe even a try at going all-veg, as Jonah and I are going to test out for the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

2

Speaking of going vegan (ha), I know no one wants to think about turkey for another 360 days or so, but I would be remiss if I didn't include a rehash of the piecemeal recipe that turned out to be the best turkey of my entire life. Here's how I did it:

1. Dry Brine: After buying an 11-pound turkey on Wednesday evening for Thanksgiving with six people, Jonah and I brought it home only to realize we were out of regular salt for a dry brine. Instead, I mixed 4 tablespoons of brown sugar with 1 cup of Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt, a salt and herb mix I'm obsessed with (wrote about it here!) that's available in most grocery stores. After removing the giblets and neck (for gravy), rinsing the turkey, and patting it dry with a clean dish towel, I pressed the brine all over the turkey and let it sit overnight, uncovered, on a rack in our fridge placed in a baking dish to let any juices drain out. 

2. Prep for Roasting: In the morning, Jonah made his Brown Butter Cinnamon Ice Cream (okay, I have to brag here because it is literally award-winning!), and we had about a cup of clarified brown butter leftover from it. I added another stick to it and put it in the microwave juuust long enough for it to soften. Then, I added a pack-worth each of chopped rosemary and chopped sage to the butter, and used my immersion blender to blend it all together into a compound butter, which we brought to our friends' house in a Weck jar, along with the brined turkey. As soon as we arrived at our friends' place, I rinsed the salt mixture off of the turkey and used a clean dish towel to pat it completely dry, then used my hands to absolutely cover it in the butter mixture and stick it every place possible. I used my fingers and a paring knife to ease it under the breast skin (which makes the skin crispier on both turkeys and roast chickens!), and covered every surface with the butter mixture. Next, I sliced about five lemons in half and squeezed the juices into and on top of the turkey before putting the lemons into its, erm, cavity.

3. Roast: I placed the bird on a roasting pan set into a baking dish (it doesn't have to be fancy—I used something like this in an aluminum disposable baking dish I bought at the grocery store, but I'm thinking of buying this from Food52's sale today for next year). I poured a cup of water into the baking dish so that the juices running off the turkey didn't burn, then placed it into an oven set at 425° F. From there, I checked it every 20 to 30 minutes, pulling the rack out to baste the turkey each time (you want to baste both the top, but also put the baster under the skin and into crevices to make sure everything stays juicy). As soon as the skin looked crispy and golden, I lowered the temperature to 350° and placed a meat thermometer into the breast (you can also place it into the thigh, but I wanted to make sure the breast meat wasn't over-cooked). I continued checking on it every 30 minutes and tented the wingtips with aluminum foil when they looked like they were on the edge of burning. As soon as the meat thermometer hit 155° F, I removed the bird and placed it on the stove, tenting it completely with aluminum foil for an hour, until it reached 160° F. Note on the temperature: Most recipes will tell you to take the bird out at 160° F, which is the safe temperature for eating meat, but I have a theory that that's only because they don't want to be responsible if you eat undercooked meat. I suggest removing it at 155° F so it doesn't go too far above 160° F (I consider 165° F to be over-cooked). But also, I am not a food safety expert. This is just what works for me—use your eyes too, and don't eat anything that looks undercooked! 

4. Eat: I didn't get a single photo of this glorious turkey because I was too excited, and immediately started carving it after it had rested, but let me tell you: It was perfection. Juicy, unbelievably flavorful, and not-at-all dry. I won't be using any other method to cook next year's bird!

3

I've never considered myself a doorbuster, usually opting to hike off the turkey and wait for deals until I'm at my computer Monday morning (Emily wrote a Cyber Monday guide here!), but Jonah and I made a spontaneous Black Friday purchase I could not be more thrilled about. Inspired by a gift card we received from his family as an engagement present, Jonah and I cruised through the William Sonoma website on Friday morning "just in case," and came across the most glorious, luxurious kitchen product of all time: an automatic pasta maker. 

All you have to do is add flour to the top of the maker, which it automatically weighs, before telling you how many millimeters of liquid to add. Once you add water (Or water and an egg! Or water and beet juice! Or water and squid ink!), it spits out your chosen shape of pasta in just three minutes. Three minutes!! I hesitate to call a pasta machine life-changing, but what could be more life-changing than on-demand fresh weeknight pasta in ten minutes including cook time (cook time takes about three minutes because it's fresh). It tastes so much better than store-bought pasta and is actually some of the best pasta I've ever eaten. Jonah and I have only owned it for three nights, but have eaten pasta all three of those nights—including a spontaneous pasta party with friends. We bought the 'Philips Smart Pasta Maker Plus' which is on sale now at William Sonoma, but a similar older version is available in white from Bed, Bath, and Beyond here! It's expensive, but considering the amount of money I anticipate it saving us on takeout, eating out, and pasta, plus the happiness it brings to my heart and stomach, it's well worth the cost. 

P.S., E wrote a bonus post today with all of her Cyber Monday Sale picks, but mostly her favorites from Revolve because they're offering up to 75% off sale with an additional 20% off (I mean, come on!). Read it here!