On the fourth Thursday in November, the US celebrates one of its most important public holidays: Thanksgiving Day. This is a day for the family, a day to celebrate home cooking, where the star of the show is the Thanksgiving turkey.
The tradition of Thanksgiving dates back to 1620, when the settlers arrived in Massachusetts. In those days they weren’t prepared for the freezing winters, and many people died from cold, hunger or disease. A year later, there was a celebration on this day, and today that celebration is called Thanksgiving. In 1863, president Abraham Lincoln declared it to be a national holiday.
Why not try it at home and pair this most festive of dishes with a cava gran reserva (aged for more than 30 months).
For the stuffing:
1 large, whole turkey (weighing approximately 6 kg)
5 sticks of celery
For the stuffing
400 g maize bread (the crumb)
200 g bacon (cut into strips)
30 g raisins
300 ml chicken stock
To accompany the turkey:
4 corn on the cob (cooked)
The first step in preparing your Thanksgiving turkey is to rub the skin with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then stuff it with the apples cut into large chunks. This will help to make the turkey nice and juicy.
Next, cover the legs with aluminum foil so they don't burn while it’s roasting.
Put the turkey into a large roasting bag. You can find these in specialised shops, or shops selling American food.
Place the onion cut into chunks and the chopped celery in the bag with the turkey. When you have all these ingredients safely inside the bag, close it, and put it on a baking tray.
Roast the turkey in the bag at 175ºC for two and a half hours. Place the baking tray at the centre of the oven to make sure that the turkey doesn't touch the heating elements of the top.
After two hours, cover the bag with aluminum foil to stop the turkey from burning.
At the end of the cooking time, turn the oven off, but don't take the turkey out until you're ready to serve.
While the turkey is cooking, start to prepare the traditional stuffing. This could be cooked inside the turkey, but Americans generally cook and serve it separately.
To prepare the stuffing, sauté the bacon and finely chopped onion together in a pan.
When the onion is transparent, add the breadcrumbs, raisins, and stock. Mix all the ingredients together to make a wet paste.
Now that the turkey and stuffing are ready, it's time to open the roasting bag and pour off the cooking juices together with the celery and onion. Reduce the juices to make the gravy.
Carve the turkey into slices, starting with the breast, and place it on a plate. The leg, wings, and other parts of the bird are usually boned so that each guest can help themselves to the meat.
Place the turkey meat, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn cobs, and cranberry sauce on the table, so that each guest can help themselves.
A traditional festive dish that at the Cava Regulatory Board we recommend you serve with a cava gran reserva (aged for more than 30 months).
Maize bread: you could use cornbread instead, which is typically eaten in the US with the Thanksgiving turkey. You can find it in shops specialising in American food.