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“I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but then I saw this,” said Adam Longworth, holding up a clear plastic card with purple-and-gold writing. “I was looking at turkeys and they were going to break my budget. Then I saw the sign that said if you had a Giant card the turkey was only $12.”
The 701 chef had accepted our Frugal Foodie challenge to cook Thanksgiving dinner for six for less than $50, not including pantry items. He was taking it seriously. He beat me to the grocery store in order to scout out ingredients. He insisted that the amount of sugar and butter he needed would be more than what’s considered fair pantry item use and included both in his budget. And now he was the proud owner of a Giant card so he could save a few extra dollars.
When he got to the checkout counter, the Giant card saved him more than seven dollars, with his total bill ringing in at $46.34.
At my apartment, Longworth cut the turkey into pieces. To make a full turkey in one afternoon, he’d have to speed up the stock-making process and he wouldn’t be able to brine the bird. Instead, he removed the turkey breasts to roast them separately. He used the drumsticks, wings, and neck to make stock and gravy, snagging some of the extra meat for the stuffing.
“You have to season the sh-t out of the meat when you can’t brine it,” said Longworth as he covered the breasts with a little salt and a lot of black pepper and thyme. Longworth then got to work on the rest of the meal, slicing onions, peeling carrots, chopping apples, and dicing bread. He folded two batches of cranberries together, whipped potatoes, whisked gravy, and caramelized vegetables. As the turkey roasted and the stuffing baked, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and rutabaga sizzled in a sauté pan.
In less than five hours, Longworth pulled together a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. There was an abundance of smells and flavors to be thankful for—and all on a tight budget of time and money. But later, as I set the table, I saw that Longworth’s Giant card had been left behind.
All recipes serve six.
Turkey, Stock, and Gravy
1 12-pound turkey
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 1.2-ounce packets chicken bouillon
½ cup flour
½ stick butter
1 8-ounce package white-button mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
Make the stock:
Break down the turkey, removing the legs, wings, drumsticks, and neck (reserve the thighs and breasts). Place these parts in a large pot, cover with water, and bring to boil.
In a sauté pan, add the oil. Over high heat, brown the drumsticks, wings, legs, and neck. Add the carrots and onion to the large pot. Add 2 ladles of the stock to the sauté pan that was used to brown the turkey. Deglaze the pan and add any browned bits to the stock. Simmer over medium heat for 2 hours.
Remove the drumsticks, wings, and legs and remove the meat from the bones. Set aside for the stuffing. Strain the stock. Add the bouillon and bring to a boil. Reserve for recipes below (2 cups for the turkey while its roasting, 10 cups for the stuffing, and the remainder for the gravy).
Roast the turkey:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the breasts and thighs in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add 2 cups of stock to the roasting pan. Cover and cook until done.
Make the gravy:
Mix the flour and butter, and stir in a pan over medium-high heat to make a roux. Sear the mushrooms in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until brown. Add 2 ladles of stock. Simmer. After reserving stock for turkey and stuffing recipes, boil the remaining stock down to about 3 cups. Whisk in the roux, and add in the mushrooms. Keep warm.
2 12-ounce bags fresh cranberries
3 cups sugar
2 ounces ginger, peeled and sliced
Add 1 bag of cranberries, 1 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar to a saucepan set over medium heat. Add the juice of both oranges and the peel of 1. Add the ginger. Simmer until sauce reaches a jam-like consistency, about 1 hour. Remove the chunks of ginger and orange peel. Reserve.
In a separate saucepan, add the second bag of cranberries, the remaining sugar, and 2 cups of water. Simmer over medium heat until the cranberries crack, about 20 minutes. Drain the syrup and fold into the first batch of cranberries.
1½ loaves French bread, cubed
1 pound hot pork sausage (not in casing)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 carrots, diced
2 onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 apples, peeled and diced
Leftover turkey meat (from stock)
10 cups stock
Salt, pepper, and dried thyme to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and toast for 20 minutes or until golden brown. When the bread is finished, turn the oven up to 375 degrees.
In a sauté pan set over medium-high heat, brown the sausage. In a separate sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of oil and sweat the carrots and onions until tender.
Split the bread into 2 bowls. Add the sausage, carrots, onions, garlic, and apples evenly to each. Add the bits of turkey meat that were removed from the drumsticks, wings, legs. Add 5 cups of stock to each bowl and mix. Pour both bowls into a large baking pan. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and bake until golden, about 30 more minutes.
10 ounces Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 rutabaga, peeled and chopped
1⁄8 cup salt, plus more to taste
1 pat butter
Honey to taste
Remove the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts. In a cold pan set over low heat, add the sprouts cut side down. Drizzle with oil. Cook 3 to 5 minutes until the sprouts turn golden. Add butter, salt, and pepper to taste.
Fill a large sauce pot with water and the 1⁄8 cup of salt. Bring to a boil. Add the carrots and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from the water with a strainer or ladle and set aside. In the same pot, add the rutabaga. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Raise the heat to medium. In the sauté pan, roast the carrots in the butter until golden. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, roast the rutabaga. Drizzle with honey to taste. When the rutabaga is golden, remove it from the pan. Mix the Brussels sprouts, carrots, and rutabaga together.
3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups half and half
¼ pound butter
Set up a pot of boiling water and add the potatoes. Cook until soft, about 35 minutes. Remove to a bowl and mix in the butter and cream. Mash until smooth.
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