The Koreans call Chooseok the Korean Thanksgiving, and we never have the American Thanksgiving day off in Korea, so we have begun making our Thanksgiving meal on one of the Chooseok days when we can all be off work and then going out to eat on the actual American Thanksgiving. I planned on making our Thanksgiving meal today, but my daughter was so excited that when I woke up, she was already in the kitchen working. I believe in everyone knowing how to cook, so I have taught all four of my kids how to cook, even my sons. My youngest daughter is 24 years old, and she is the one who did the cooking today. On a day to day basis, I have more time than she does, so I usually do the cooking, so it was nice to have her so excited she couldn’t stay out of the kitchen. Korean kitchens are tiny, so we usually only have one person at a time cooking because there is only room for one person at a time in a normal Korean kitchen.
She began yesterday by taking the chicken out of the freezer and putting it in the fridge to thaw overnight. Yes, we use a chicken, and not a turkey. The only turkeys I have seen here were from the American military base, and we are not American military. the Koreans say the exist in Korea, but no one eats them because they are too expensive. I have never even seen one in a Korean store. It has become our custom to stuff a chicken instead of a turkey because that is what is available.
If you saw my blog yesterday, I made the pumpkin pie yesterday, and it wasn’t quite how American women would have made it because everything is not available to us that is available to women in America. As for cranberries, I have never seen them here either, but it is okay because we aren’t a big fan of cranberry sauce. However, we do make the stuffing for the chicken and the mashed potatoes and gravy. Koreans have sweet potatoes, and they eat them quite often. They are popular in Korea, but we prefer to only use one kind of potatoes at a time, and for this meal, we go for mashed potatoes. My daughter took pictures while she was cooking so you could see what she does.
She began by making toast and peeling potatoes. The potatoes will be mashed potatoes, but you may wonder why she was making toast. This is the easiest way to make stuffing for the chicken.
After she peeled the potatoes, she cut them up, put them in a pan and ran water over them. With the toast, she cut it up into little squares. Next, she got an onion and cut it up to very small pieces.
She got out the frying pan and melted one cup of butter in the frying pan. She fried the onions, and then she added the pieces of bread and fried the bread getting it all covered in the butter.
Before she did anything with the chicken, she cut the neck off, put the neck in a pan, covered the neck with water, and put it on to boil. She will want chicken flavored liquid to make the gravy and for extra stuffing.
Next, she turned her oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius) to preheat it.
After the bread was fried, she rubbed butter and salt all over the outside of the chicken. After that, she stuffed the bread inside of the chicken. She says she forgot to take a picture at this point, but if you look between the chicken’s legs, you will find a place to put the stuffing inside of the chicken. Next, she melted some more butter and put it in a cup to baste the chicken while it is baking.
The next step is to put the chicken in the oven and put the potatoes on the stove and turn the fire on under the potatoes. The potatoes will cook until they are soft. Put a lid on the potatoes, and when they begin to boil, turn the fire down or they will boil over. When a fork can be put into one of the potatoes easily, you know the potatoes are finished. The chicken will take much longer than the potatoes, so you may want to wait a bit before putting the potatoes on the fire. The chicken will take two hours to bake. Every so often, you will want to take the chicken out and pour some of the melted butter over it, then put it back into the oven. This is called basting. It keeps the chicken more moist as it is baking. About half way through the baking time, you will want to turn the chicken over to make sure is is brown on both the top and bottom and cooked everywhere. The chicken will be done when you can take a butter knife and cut where the leg is attached to the body, and it separated easily, except for the bone, and there is no blood coming out.
While the chicken was baking, she began putting together more stuffing because she knows everyone likes stuffing. At our house, they can never get enough stuffing, and the stuffing we make is extremely simple. This time, since the chicken is already stuffed, we cut the bread up, cut the onions up, fry the onions in a cup of butter, and fry the bead pieces like we did before. When all that is done, we put the fried bread and onions into a baking pan, then we pour broth and drippings from the cooked bird over the bread and mix it. We wait until after the chicken comes out of the oven to get the drippings. After the stuffing is all mixed up, we leave the oven on where it was for the bird, and put the stuffing in the oven. If we had a bigger oven, we may put the stuffing in the oven the same time as we are cooking the bird, but we are not using a nice big American oven, but a small confectioner’s oven, and at times, we have had to use a toaster oven to do this whole job. The stuffing stays in the oven about 10 minutes.
About this time, the potatoes are soft, so pour the water out of the potatoes. Next, we use a potato masher and mash the potatoes and add a little bit of milk. The amount of milk you add is according to how many potatoes you have cooked. If you add too much milk, the potatoes will be runny, so just add a little so they will turn into mashed potatoes. Put some butter, some salt, and pepper on the potatoes after you have mashed them and mixed milk into them.
About this time, you will also be working on the gravy. Start with the drippings from the chicken. Put them in a frying pan and turn the fire on. Add a couple of tablespoons of flour and make a paste, pushing it around and browning the flour in the drippings from the chicken. Next, use some of the chicken broth you made at the beginning. If you don’t have two cups of broth, add what broth you have, and then finish it with water. I like to use a wire whip to mix the liquid into the gravy to prevent lumps. I cook the gravy until it begins to thicken. I asked my daughter why her gravy was so white. She said she had put all her chicken broth into the stuffing and used only water for her liquid in her gravy. Her gravy was good, but if you can get some broth in the gravy, you will have more of a chicken taste. Let it cook until it begins to thicken a little stirring it with the wire whip. Salt and pepper it to taste.
She did really well considering how young she is. Since she has been off work, she also made homemade spaghetti and meatballs. If you are interested in how to make that, look back through my blogs, and I blogged about it when I made it. We cook at our house. We don’t live in America, so we all have to learn how to cook from scratch. I was adamant about my boys learning to cook before they left home because when my brother left home, I went to visit him once when he was about my daughter’s age. He was living in an apartment with a group of guys. They were all going on about what a good cook my brother was. They said they were going out to eat for every meal because none of them could cook, but that when my brother began cooking, they ate at home with him. I asked him what he made, and he said he just got a can of Campbell’s soup, opened it up, added water, and heated it up, and his room mates decided he was a gourmet cook! I decided that none of my kids would leave home not even knowing how to open up a can of soup and heat it up like his room mates. Guys have to eat just like girls. I am proud of the cooking my kids can do. At times, when I visit my older kids, they have me sit down and write recipes of things they ate when they were growing up that they want to eat. I appreciate my daughter taking over today.