Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Things

The heat is being fixed as I type this. I will sleep well tonight for the first time in 5 days! YAY!

Thanksgiving was wonderful! I had a wonderful time with our family who came up here to share it with us, and it was the only time the whole week the house was warm. I guess the stove, oven, and wood stove working together is what it takes without the heater on. So glad it's getting fixed!

I have a new trick to share with you. I haven't made the turkey for Thanksgiving in 4 years. And before that, I usually made it in those oven safe bags. I didn't have a whole lot of turkey tricks that made it well, I just did what the instructions told me, and we ended up with a cooked turkey that wasn't terribly dry. Not fantastic, but not bad and slathered in gravy that WAS fantastic (I make darn good gravy) it passed for a great meal.

Well this year, I was doing some research and started to find that if you allow the turkey to seal itself, as if you were searing meat for stew or a roast before cooking, then the inside would be more moist. I found some instructions and added my own flare to it and it made the world's most tender turkey ever!

Super Simple Moist Turkey Recipe

What you need:

15 - 20lb turkey, completely thawed
3 Tbs fresh thyme, minced
2 Tbs fresh sage, minced
1/2 stick room temperature butter
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. This recipe is for a turkey that is NOT stuffed. I make stuffing in a separate dish when turkey is resting (and that is the other recipe I will share with you here)
  2. Remove gizzard and other inside stuff from bird.
  3. Place unstuffed turkey on a plastic board (one that can be placed in the sanitizing wash in the dishwasher) and gently pull up the skin on the breast part of the bird so it separates from the meat of the breast.
  4. Put the butter and herbs under the skin. You want it spread around between the skin and the breast meat. (Using your fingers is best, and I'll agree it is a little gross to do, but I promise, the result is worth it.)
  5. Brush the skin outside with the olive oil and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Place the turkey in a oven safe baking dish with high edges. I used a 13 X 9 Pyrex dish.
  7. Preheat the oven to 475*. Yep, that's right. 475*. Place the turkey in the oven at 475* for 20 minutes.
  8. Turn down the heat to 250*. Yep, 250* and proceed to cook the turkey for 20 minutes per pound of turkey meat or until the meat reaches 165*. (I had so much drippings at this point that I had to remove a couple cups of them so they didn't over flow. So check that often, and take some out if you think there is danger of the drippings ending up on the bottom of you oven.)
  9. You don't have to baste. You don't have to touch it. You will have enough drippings for a huge batch of gravy and enough for the stuffing recipe on top of that. And your turkey (even the breast meat!!) will be tender and flavorful all the way through!

I honestly will never cook a turkey any other way. It was perfect, tasty and even the breast was moist and tender, never dry. I am sold.

The stuffing... awe the stuffing! I have never liked stuffing before, but this recipe was one I made up and includes all my favorite things. Martha Stewart had a 'how to put together stuffing' guide in the November 2000 Living and I happened to glean a copy from my mom a few years back. The guide basically said there were four major components to stuffing. The binder (eggs, water, butter, drippings), the bread, the herbs, and the fillers (fruit, nuts, meat, etc). So here is my recipe that I made up with that guide:

Pork Sausage and Pear Stuffing

Two pears (diced)
1 lb pork sausage (ground)
1 large bag cornbread stuffing squares
2 stalks celery (diced)
1 lg onion (diced)
2 sticks + 1 Tbs butter
1 tea Thyme leaves (dried)
2 tea fresh Sage leaves (minced)
1/2 cup yellow raisins
2 cups of chicken stock or drippings from turkey

1. Melt 1 Tbs of the butter in a large saute pan. Add sausage and break up until browned and crumbly. Take out of pan and set aside on paper towels to drain.

2. Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a large stock pot. Add 1 cup of stock or drippings. Toss the butter liquid with the cornbread stuffing until liquid and butter are gone. (If you need to add more drippings to moisten it all, then do that until the bread is moist but not wet.)

3. To the sausage pan (without washing) add the celery, onion, thyme, and sage. When onion turns mostly clear add in the diced pear, and saute' for another 5 or 6 minutes. If it starts to stick to the bottom at all, add drippings or stock to loosen it all up. You want the stuff on the bottom of the pan in the stuffing... it adds a lot of flavor.

4. When that is done, add the sausage back onto the pan and mix. Add raisins and turn over a couple times to coat them with flavor.

5. In a very large baking dish (I used a 10X15 Pyrex) put the stuffing bread, and the veggie sausage mix and toss. Add stock to moisten if you notice dry spots. (I usually use about 1/2 cup to a cup of drippings just to be sure it is all moist.) Cover and bake for 45 minutes at 350*. Take the cover off and cook for another 15 minutes to brown the top. If a dry, add the last cup of stock.

And my last Thanksgiving trick that I was able to pull off were these sweet little 'horns of plenty'. My niece and I made them together and then I filled them with pistachios, chocolates, and candies. Each plate had one and they looked so decadent on the place setting. It was a double layered cone, with off-white or chocolate colored solid cardstock on the inside, and gold, blue, and brown scrapbooking paper for the outside. Then I matched the other table arrangements to the paper. I used eucalyptus as my 'blue' and other greens for the 'floral', and then drilled tea light and taper sized holes in off-white gourds and added off-white and blue candles for the center piece. It was beautiful!




ColorSlut said...

This low temperature roasting technique is what we do in our house. It works really well and I think creates a better turkey.

Callista said...

i do a similar thing with the butter under the skin of turkey/chicken. except i make an herb/butter mix (whatever im in the mood for). then i put it on plastic wrap and make a little log. chill it for a few hrs and then cut little disks off and place liberally under the skin. takes longer but it can be prepped ahead of time and its a little less messy :)

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