Thanksgiving is the gift that keeps on giving, at least here at 30 Rock. Thursday we celebrated the first annual Rocksgiving – which was basically an excuse to consume more turkey, stuffing and pie and do the unimaginable: Have lunch away from our desks. The brainchild of marketing manager and phenomenal cook Bret Sorkness, the potlock meal brought out some of our inner chefs.
Bret was up until 3 a.m. preparing turkey and gravy, which he called “the best sauce ever.” His claims were well deserved, evidenced by the “ooohs” and “ahhhs” expressed upon first bite by the kitchen full of skeptical journalists.
But it wasn’t just Bret’s incredibly juicy turkey, savory gravy and cranberry sauce that had the crowd going wild. Video producer Katie Quinn made Ina Garten’s tart, delicious cranberry and apple cake – and it was a big hit. Editor Steve Veres made mashed sweet potatoes, and divulged that the key ingredient to the satisfying, creamy side was Thai red curry.
Even TODAY.com director (a.k.a boss lady) Jen Brown made a mouthwatering contribution, taking inspiration from —where else—TODAY viewers! She made the stuffin’ muffins recipe created by Ann Laye, who recently took top honors in the TODAY stuffing cook-off.
Some of us skipped the elbow grease and just brought in delectable dishes, including an unbelievable apple and sour cream pie, cookies and some shockingly good quinoa.
I was the laziest with my on-the-fly contribution – a bottle of syrah that I stash in my desk drawer for just such an emergency. Bret was prepared to MacGyver his way into the bottle using his dress shoe and the wall, but we thankfully were able to find a corkscrew.
Others, like editor Rina Raphael, served as the clean-up crew, scavenging the eats and making sure no morsel went to waste.
By the end of the event, I was in full-scale food coma. I struggled to make it through the rest of the day and was on board with supervising editor Ian Sager who refused to take part in Rocksgiving, shaking his head as if reliving a traumatic experience, saying, “I can’t eat any more Thanksgiving food. I just can’t do it.”
Want to keep Thanksgiving going? Get Bret's gravy recipe, and tell us, what's your go-to potluck dish?
- stalk of chopped celery
- chopped carrot
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- chopped onion (with its peel – for color)
- 6 cups of water
Simmer all ingredients for about an hour. Remove from heat and strain broth. Discard vegetables and strained giblets. Reserve giblet stock for gravy.
- giblet stock
- chicken stock
- turkey drippings
- all-purpose flour (1tbs for each cup of liquid)
Remove the cooked turkey and rack from the roasting pan. Transfer turkey to a cutting board with a lip to collect juices and let the turkey rest before carving. While the turkey is resting, make the gravy.
Place roasting pan (with the drippings and fat) over two (2) burners on your stovetop over medium heat (always make the gravy in the same pan you used to roast the turkey).
Pour the turkey juices and fat into a large measuring cup or bowl. The fat will float to the top of the bowl. Skim off all but about 3 to 4 tablespoons fat (the amount you need to make your gravy) and return it to the turkey roasting pan.
Using a heavy spoon, scrape all the dark drippings and any crunchy bits from the sides and bottom of roasting pan. Leave them in your roasting pan as these are what add great flavor and a nice rich color to the gravy.
Add the turkey giblet stock, that you previously made, to the roasting pan.
Heat the liquid until just boiling, then reduce to simmer. While liquid is simmering, make a slurry. In a container with a lid, shake together the all-purpose flour and about cups of cool water.
Once the simmering liquids are lightly bubbling, slowly add the slurry mixture to the gravy pan, stirring constantly.
Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, being sure to cook the flour all the way through.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve in a warmed sauceboat.
Vidya Rao is the TODAY.com food editor. She's known to leave crumbs in her wake, especially on her keyboard.