We served our big meal here last night. Almost everything went according to plan. What didn't?
I didn't end up making the pumpkin cheesecake because we had leftover apple pie bites to bring home and our guests brought over pecan pie. I'll save that for another occasion.
My gravy was not just lumpy but totally overcooked. Since I don't usually have such a large turkey, I didn't remember that the drippings are almost all fat, not brothy. What I had tasted good but looked thoroughly unappetizing. If I'd had another small pot and any room on the stove I could have skimmed off the fat and tried again, but I wasn't thinking. I'll try again tonight using the giblet stock I completely forgot about in the fridge and some butter. (I'd even added bacon dripping to make the roux the first time, which I highly recommend if you don't have enough drippings from your bird.)
For the jumbo-sized bird, I ended up brining it, stuffing the cavity with half an onion and a whole apple (quartered), and roasting uncovered at 400 for about 45 minutes. Then I cooked it at 325 with foil lightly tenting it for another 4 hours, then uncovered it for the last 45 minutes. It was golden brown and lovely.
The stuffing turned out really well. I'll share the recipe for that one later.