Home Cooking

Holidays Your Way + Steam Roasted Turkey

February 22 2013 - 9:00 AM

They go by various names. Friendsmas. Feaster. Fauxover. Yum Kippur. Whatever you call them, they are the same thing. A holiday redux with pals, reclaiming the food and feeling of your favorite celebration, without the stress or pressure of the actual holiday.

Fortunately for me holidays with my family are enormously enjoyable and without drama. But I have many friends are not so lucky. There are the uncles who drink too much and get handsy, the aunts who hide razors in their compliments, the cousins whose children are only loosely parented, running amuck and putting their grimy little sticky hands everywhere they will cause the most damage. In-laws who criticize, siblings that snipe and recipes that fail.

At our house? It is Fakesgiving. A February redo of our most favorite holiday, celebrated with close friends as a wonderful pot luck dinner. Our motto? All of the food, none of the family. In sweatpants. Don’t get me wrong, I love regular Thanksgiving. I love cooking for a week, making everything from scratch, planning every detail. But while I have it mostly down to a science and genuinely enjoy it, it wipes me out for a week after.

Fakesgiving is infinitely easier. This year we hosted, so we took on the turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and my husband’s famous yeast rolls. The rest of the meal gets farmed out. That way everyone can make the thing they are famous for. You get the best stuffing, sweet potatoes and veggie side dishes. Throw in a couple of terrific pies and, if you’re really lucky (and we are), a sticky toffee pudding. It’s also a great place to test a new recipe and see if it passes muster. I tried out a new way to make turkey that is a total gamechanger and will definitely make a reappearance next November.

Adapted from a Jacques Pepin recipe,  this recipe will cut your cooking time by nearly two-thirds, and while very simple, turns out perfectly moist and, best of all, tasting like turkey. Turkey is always problematic for me. I like the flavor of turkey, but hate when it’s dry. I’ve tried many different brines over the years, and they do get moist, but I don’t love the texture. The problem with wet brines is that a lot of that moistness is water, which dilutes the turkey flavor. I’ve tried the dry brine rubs, but the salt makes the skin sort of unpleasant and toughens the outer layer of the meat.

This turkey is genius. You start by steaming it, which renders a lot of the fat out of the skin and gets some moist cooking underway, and then roast for browning and crisping. Works like a charm. Your drumsticks will not be as pretty, since the steaming makes the meat shrink up the bone, but they will be more delicious. And if you are concerned, you can always buy a couple extra drumsticks and roast on the side to pretty up your platter.

See the full steam roasted turkey recipe here >

Pick your favorite holiday, find a date that works for your best pals and assign dishes. Decorate accordingly, and enjoy a do-over with no stress and plenty of delicious food.

–Stacey Ballis