Monday, October 20, 2008

Talk turkey to me



Confession time. I've never cooked a turkey before. You know, the big, pretty Thanksgiving kind. In my family, my grandma was the one who prepared the entire Thanksgiving meal. She was a southern farmer's wife and also a school lunchroom cook (back when the schools actually still made all the food from scratch). I can vaguely remember going to work with her when I was little. Sitting on a stool in the school kitchen while she made homemade rolls. YUM! It amazes me, now that I'm old enough to appreciate it, the spread she put on at any of her dinners - whether it was a Thanksgiving dinner, or just Sunday dinner. She passed away a few years ago, and it's one of my biggest regrets that I never took the opportunity to spend time with her in her kitchen, learning to cook. Her specialties were many, but, it was all good old southern comfort foods - dumplings, macaroni and cheese, homemade yeast rolls, etc. And, her homemade pies. Oh my goodness. There were always so many pies. Chocolate cream, lemon cream, coconut cream, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cherry pie.... Nowadays, my mother and my sister have taken over the job of preparing our Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, I'll help out and bring a side dish or two, but, most of the work is theirs. It's really got me thinking....what happens when it's my turn to take over, when my own kids are grown and come home for Thanksgiving with their families? My husband is a wonderful cook; he's learned a lot in the kitchen at the firehouse. But, I want to be able to pull off the big spread. I'm thinking I need to start practicing a little bit. I may do a little "mock" Thanksgiving dinner of my own, just for my family of six here at home. So, here's where you come in. Talk turkey to me! Tell me your tips, recipes, hints; anything to help me roast a beautiful Thanksgiving turkey. I don't want to do a stuffed turkey, I'm going to attempt to make my grandmother's baked dressing as a seperate dish. I need, clear, precise, and easy instructions, people! Remember, I'm a novice here. Thanks!

~Kari

5 comments:

Rue said...

Hi Kari :)

I've been cooking turkey dinners for about 6 years now without my mom. She gave me the reins for Thanksgiving until she moved to Arizona and now it's hers again, but Christmas is all mine :)

My advice is to buy a Butterball turkey and just follow the directions. Once you get the hang of that you can move on to other recipes, but I find that they all pretty much taste the same. Just make sure that you take it out of the oven or the roaster and let it sit for 20 minutes before you carve it so that it stays juicy. Oh and you can stuff things like basil leaves and that sort of thing in the cavity instead of stuffing :)

Good luck!

rue

More, More, More said...

I can't help because I've never cooked a turkey either! We always go to my parents house for Thanksgiving. Good Luck!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Kari, My favorite holiday is thanksgiving. When I was a kid, we didn't have formal thanksgiving because my dad owned a bakery, and we worked all day. When I met my husband, the first time I met his family was thanksgiving. Totally traditional..I loved it and have been making the holiday at our house ever since. Turkey is easy. figure 15 minutes to the pound. Just 15, otherwise, it is overcooked before you know it. Rinse it, salt, pepper and pop in oven. I pour a little water over after a few hours to keep moist and it helps to make gravy afterwards. 325 degrees and when done, use a thermometer, take out and cover loosely with tinfoil and let sit for at least 15 minutes..it continues to cook and the juices stay in better. Need any other help. just email me. Susan

Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

Kari, I have THE best turkey recipe. It's wonderful and it's foolproof (this coming from ME, the world's laziest and worst cook!). I got this recipe from my daughter-n-law's mother. Here goes:

Clean your turkey with water. Remove all that gross stuff from the cavity.

You'll need:
1 orange (with peel and quartered)
1 lemon (with peel and quartered)
1 whole peeled onion
2 stalks of celery, cut in half
handful of baby carrots

Stuff all those things up there in your turkey.

Season the turkey with salt and pepper. Put turkey in a browning bag (don't forget to shake about a tbsp of flour inside the bag first - I always forget to do that and then it's a big mess). Add 1 cup of water. Seal and cook for as long as the browning bag instructs for that size turkey. Use the "stuffed" cooking times because, even though you're going to throw out the orange and lemon and all when you're done cooking, it's still basically "stuffed" when it's cooked. Once the turkey is done cooking, like I said, throw all that stuff inside out, let the turkey sit for about 15 minutes and then cut it.

I'm telling you - I swear by this recipe. I've never cooked such juicy, flavorful turkeys before - and this is using the cheaper turkeys, not the expensive Butterballs. I bet it'd be even BETTER with butterball, though (but I'm just way too cheap to find out for myself. LOL).

Good luck! Hope you try this. You WON'T regret it!!!

Kari

Martha said...

Oh, girlfriend!

I LOVE turkey dinner!!! I will help you in any way I can!

I agree with Rue. Start with the Butterball...you can start experimenting after you make one or two of those. Everybody here is right about stuffing the cavity with herbs, lemons and apples, too. And don't forget the salt and pepper on the skin....so important.

And I've got some gravy help if you need it.

Make sure you let us know how it goes :)

xoxo,
martha