This is my second Thanksgiving overseas. For the first several years after we got married, Bryan and I flew from Boston to California for Thanksgiving. There, we would enjoy the Che family tradition, which involved all the fixings of a very traditional American Thanksgiving meal. His mom learned how to make Thanksgiving turkey from her American host family back when she first moved to the US. Their family has been doing traditional Thanksgiving for as long as anyone can remember.
As time went by and it became harder for us to fly all the way to California over such a short holiday weekend, Bryan’s mom shifted “Thanksgiving” and began making that same turkey meal over the Christmas holiday. She made a point to preserve that family tradition for us, no matter when we could make it back to California.
As a result, not a single year has passed by where I have not been able to enjoy that exact same meal.
And I do mean exact.
“Thanksgiving” in December – 2017
But there’s something about the sameness and consistency of it all that makes the meal that much more special. At this point, I don’t think we would have it any other way. THIS is Thanksgiving at the Che family home – everything from the super crunchy twice-baked cookie-sheet flattened stuffing (heh, we like it crunchy!) and the microwave steamed yams to the succulent turkey and the world’s best gravy made from all the giblets and browned turkey wings.
A couple years ago I asked Bryan’s mom to share her “recipe” with me. As you know with Chinese moms, there is never really a recipe. It’s just a series of general steps and lots of secret know how.
If I’m still in Hong Kong next year, perhaps I’ll try making this myself. It’s too late now (considering it’s Thanksgiving today!). At the very least I can share with you the “recipe” that she shared with me.
I’m already looking forward to this Christmas, where I know we’ll be enjoying that same meal again. Until then, I’ll just enjoy these photos in anticipation of next month.
Remove wings at joint and set aside along with the neck, heart, liver, and gizzard.
You will use this to make the gravy later.
Rub the inside and outside of the turkey with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Fill the turkey cavity with wine (2-3 cups or more!). Bake, covered partially with foil, breast side down at 325 for 3 hours.
Turn the turkey so that the breast is facing up.
Remove the foil and put turkey back in the oven to brown. Let turkey cool on rack.
Find a pro, ideally someone with an electric knife, to carve the turkey.
Serve! Eat with lots of gravy, mashed potato, and cranberry sauce. Repeat multiple times until you can no longer move. Enjoy leftovers for the next several days, perhaps with some Che pumpkin cakes.
Boil the removed browned wings, neck, heart, liver, and gizzard in about 2 cups water to make a broth.
When turkey is done, pour out drippings, taking care to remove the fat (e.g., use oil separator?).
In order to scrape off all of the drippings, heat the pan on a stove with 1-2 cups water. Add drippings/water mixture to the broth. Remove any bones by picking off the meat. Blend the meat (chop up into small pieces if necessary) and liquids together in a blender. Add flour + water mixture until gravy is to desired consistency.
Melt butter. Add bread crumbs, 1-2 cups of the turkey wings broth to butter and stir until the bread crumbs absorb the broth. Add celery. Bake covered for 30 minutes and the uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.
This is the thirty-second post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.