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Turkey & Fixin's - How do you do it?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Since the US Thanksgiving is this week I thought I would pose the question. and I thought it would be fun to share cooking secrets and recipes. I've also been watching some cooking shows tonight and all of them have said not to cook the stuffing in the turkey, since it takes longer to cook and will dry out the turkey. Instead, they suggest putting fresh herbs and even onions and apples in the cavity to season the bird. I swear they didn't say to do this last year! LOL Funny, though, one said to baste every 1/2 hour and another said never to open the oven, but instead put a "turkey triangle" of tin foil over the breast after the first 1/2 hour at a high temperature, then lower the temp and let it roast.

I'm a stuffer. I pack the stuffing in the bird, both in the main cavity and in the front part where that flap of skin is. I also use chicken broth to add to the dry stuffing and actually make it more moist than I want to eat it, so it doesn't get dry. It does take more time, but I love the flavor the turkey gives the stuffing. The last few years I have used a turkey bag, which has kept the turkey nice and moist. You have to cut a few slits in the bag which browns the outside throughout the cooking process. My mother made a tent out of tin foil and let it roast like that. Same basic concept. Then in the last 1/2 hour or so, she would remove the foil to get the nice browning.

The rest of the meal is pretty boring, really. We did find last year on a cooking show to make a rue for the gravy with the drippings, taking a small portion of the dippings, add flour and make it really thick. Then bring the rest of the drippings and water to a boil and add the rue to thicken it up. It makes a nice, smooth gravy - not too thick, not lumpy, and not too thin.

Any other tricks you do? Any special side dish recipes that are a must have?
post #2 of 33
And this year, I get to indulge. I have lost so much weight recently, I put my jeans on the other day and they fell off me after I zipped them up!

Potato Fudge

3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup cooked mashed potatoes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash salt
4 cups powdered sugar

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat. Remove from heat, add potatoes, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Blend in sugar and mix. When moist, turn mixture onto floured board.Knead until smooth and mixed. Press into 8" square pan. Chill and cut into 1" squares.

Pineapple Casserole

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 Cup Ritz crackers- shredded
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup margarine, melted

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
post #3 of 33
I've heard that about not putting the stuffing in the turkey, but I do it too! It's tradition, you know. I do cover the turkey with foil (like your mom, Heidi!) and take it off during the last half hour or so to let the turkey brown.

This year we're having everyone over that doesn't have any family nearby. There will be a total of 6 (maybe 8) of us, and I'm really looking forward to it.

I don't really have any original recipes, though. That Potato Fudge looks really interesting, though, Hissy! I might have to try that!
post #4 of 33
A little special thing I like to do is mixed some mashed sweet potatoes into my 'regular' mashed potatoes. May sound wierd at first, but the coloring turns out just beautiful and it really doesn't affect the taste too much, maybe a bit sweeter, but not really. I mainly just do it for the look, and also to say I've eaten my thanksgiving sweet potatoes since I never liked the sweet potato/marshmellow/cranberry casserole thing I grew up having to eat!
post #5 of 33
Oh Boy!! A thread on Turkey Day dinner....its my favorite meal of the whole year! I love cooking it just as much as eating it I think.

As far as the turkey goes I stuff it and roast it in the oven bag. Those things are great! They cut down cooking time by so much, and the meat cooks so tender. I love it. I put celery and carrots in the bag too to give it a fantastic flavor. YUM!

I make the traditional mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, Peas/carrots, candied yams, and usually one or two other things like a soup for the first course.

My Gravy Recipie:
1 chicken boulion
1 cup water
turkey drippings
3 TBSP butter
2 TBS Cornstarch
Extra water as needed

I put in a small skillet everything except the cornstarch and extra water. Bring it to very slow boil on Low heat. In a separate bowl, put the cornstarch and about 1/2 cup water and mix until smooth. Slowly add this to your gravy and bring back to a boil. Once its thick, you can lower it way down to "warm" on the stove and let it just keep warm. You can adjust the thickness by adding a bit more or less cornstarch and if it gets too thick just add a bit more water. I also add a bit of black pepper and a touch of salt for seasoning. Its not low fat, but its yummy!!
post #6 of 33
My Thanksgiving preparations are simple.

One week prior:

Pick up telephone.

Dial nice restaurant.

Make reservation.

Thanksgiving Day:

Sleep late.

Lounge around, drink coffee and have nice breakfast (cooked by Bill).

Feed cats and dog.

Put on nice outfit and go to restaurant.

Enjoy delicious meal.

Leave clean-up and leftovers, for restaurant staff.

Go home, relax and cuddle with Bill, cats and dog.
post #7 of 33

Your Thanksgiving plans sound like mine! My Dad and I have a new tradition, where he comes out to Cleveland for the holiday. In the morning, we go and see a Harry Potter movie. We go back to my apartment, he falls asleep on the floor with Ivo while I read. Then, we go to Nighttown (local restaurant)for dinner. Then, he comes back to my apartment, falls asleep on the floor again, and I kick him out early and SLEEP!

post #8 of 33
My family doesn't have a tradition, not really. It used to be dinner at my parents, just the 3 of us, and sometimes Dan. I worked in restaurants for a few years, so that killed any normal Thanksgiving, since I was working. My whole family never got together anyway, and I wish they had.

Last year, Thanksgiving was also my mom's birthday, so we took my parents out to eat. This year, we are going to a friend's house. Everyone is sharing the cooking duties. I am bringing stuffing/filling/dressing, whatever you prefer to call it. Our hostess decided not to stuff the bird. I am using my mom's recipe, cause I think it's awesome, I hope everyone else likes it too!

I am also bringing a green bean casserole and potato fougasse, that's a fancy way of saying French potato bread. I found the recipe in Cooking Light magazine. It's the first time I've made it, so I hope it turns out ok. I am cooking on Wednesday, since I don't have school that day That way I can make sure everything turns out ok, too.
post #9 of 33
Thanksgiving is the one and only holiday I care to celebrate. I am pretty much a purist.....turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole. This year I am digging out my pumpkin pie recipe and adding an extra ingredient to it...apple butter. I hope it turns out as good as promised.
post #10 of 33
Do you traditionally have a turkey for Xmas as well? And if you do have a turkey at Xmas, do you have the same trimmings as you have at Thanksgiving?
post #11 of 33
The best trick I ever learned was to stuff the turkey, rub the outside with shortening, put it in a paper bag, crimping the end, and put it in the oven for the suggested time. No basting, very moist, and brown as you could ever want. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings backwards under the turkey before putting him in the bag--not a recycled, but recyclable is fine. Don't open the bag until it's time to put the turkey on the platter.

I also make very good pumpkin pie, but I have to do it mostly by memory. I think it was the Pet milk recipe. It called for Pet milk, molasses, brown and white sugar, and the other usual ingredients. It is the smoothest pumpkin pie I have ever tasted. By the way, if you put your pie crust ingredients (without the water, yet) into a SEALED (the classic round seal) Tupperware bowl and shake, you will get the shortening cut in perfectly. Then add the very cold water and shake around until it begins to form a ball. This avoids the excess handling that can make crust tough. (Don't try to do more than two crusts at once in a medium bowl. It works so much faster than cutting in the normal way anyway, and the consistency is perfect. The mixture should have pea sized balls on average.)

To make the pie look pretty, use the left over dough to roll out, cut oak leaves and acorn covers with a clove on top. (Shape them over a metal bottle cap.) Bake until med. brown. Roll a ball of cream cheese in ginger or cinnamon for the body of the acorns. Decorate the pie when it has cooled. (The cream cheese balls are a bit too spicy to eat; just decorate with them.)
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
I do turkey for Christmas as well, Flimflam. I do the same trimmings. Of course, I could live on turkey, I think. I just love it!! Last year we had turkey for Easter, too, since the grocery store had a great sale on it.
post #13 of 33
Another traditional Christmas meal is baked ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, etc. My family, however, would have a roast on Christmas.

Last Friday, our floor had a traditional Thanksgiving luncheon. We have a lot of non-Americans working here, and one woman from China had expressed interest in having a traditional meal. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, apple pie and pecan pie. It was such a hit, we are planning a Christmas luncheon.
post #14 of 33
Originally posted by flimflam
Do you traditionally have a turkey for Xmas as well? And if you do have a turkey at Xmas, do you have the same trimmings as you have at Thanksgiving?
Being of British descent, my Xmas dinner is roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Yum. The 2 best meals of the year!
post #15 of 33
We're having a ham dinner, for Christmas. Its all pre-cooked. We pick it up at the supermarket, warm everything up and serve. I'm feeding six people, for $40.00. We're buying extra rolls, a pie and a cake. Twelve rolls won't be enough nor will one pie. The cake is because I hate pumpkin pie.

The dinner comes with scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole and several other items. If we do have leftovers, I'll pack them home with everybody.
post #16 of 33
Last year, it was just me & hubby & the cats, so I made some ham, potatoes, and rolls; nothing special, but it was good. The year before & for Christmas, when it was with my parents & his parents @ my house, I ended up buying a Turkey dinner from the grocery store, and it always turned out good.

This year, I need to find which restaurants are open...
post #17 of 33
Deep fried turkey is the best! I had never heard of it until a few years ago. This is what you need-

large turkey, emptied and cleaned thoroughly
any kind of spices you want, but one of them needs to be poultry seasoning
a wire coathanger
sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, corn on the cob
Ranch Dressing, a lot of it
a pot big enough to hold 4 gallons of oil (ours was a witchy-type cauldron, hung from a branch of a big oak tree, using a chain from an engine hoist)
a heat source to get oil boiling (we used a propane heating unit made from an old tire rim)
in place of the 2 above items, a turkey fryer will do
a Chevy pick up with the back cleaned out
many empty Budweiser cases (you can empty them while the oil is heating and turkey is being prepared and fried)
rub the turkey with enough butter to hold the spices on, sprinkle on spices
When the oil is hot enough, take the wire coathanger and bend it around the turkey's legs, leaving the hook intact at the top, drop it in and leave it alone until it floats
go have a beer
line the back of the pick up truck with empty beer cases
have another beer
by then it should be time to cook the veggies by dropping them whole, into the oil with the turkey
have another beer
when all the food is floating to the top of the oil, remove it and lay it on the beer boxes to drain
hang the turkey from the chain for a few minutes to let it drain
have another beer
put the turkey in the back of the truck, and let the soberest person there carve it. Stand around the back of the truck, dip everything in the Ranch Dressing.
Give thanks that you got to spend a beautiful day outside with all your best friends. That was the best Thanksgiving I ever spent!
post #18 of 33
A deep fried turkey! I have heard of it before, but the idea of all that oil makes me gag!! I watched Emeril LaGasse do one once, and the turkey was completely submerged in oil!!!!!!!!! ACK!!

How does it taste though?? Is it moiste or greasy???
post #19 of 33
The deep fried turkey: it's not greasy at all, it is REALLY moist inside and REALLY crispy outside. It's fabulous! Haven't ever done one for thanksgiving, but have had it at backyard bar-be-cue, believe it or not!

Gary is the chef in our house. His turkeys are THE BEST. He covers them in foil almost the entire time to keep it moist, and I'll have to find out, but the last half hour or so he turns up the heat and takes the foil off. They come out really crispy outside and moist inside.

He bastes them with butter and orange juice (and their own drippings) and seasons the outside with garlic salt and some cajun spices - not a lot to make it spicey, just to add a bit of color and flavor. And the orange juice does NOT make the outside sweet - it makes the skin a dark golden brown and really crunchy.

They say not to cook the stuffing in the turkey because of the risk of salmonella. We do it anyway because of the flavor.

Another one of Gary's tricks is to loosen the skin around the whole turkey, and stuff stuffing between the skin and the turkey, not just inside the cavity. YUM!

Heidi - he makes the gravy the way you do. It comes out dark and thick.


I overheard Gary on the phone this morning with someone. He said - Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays to celebrate. Of course, the first thing we do is dress as pilgrims, run outside and shoot a few shots into the air and celebrate the taking of the land from the Indians... (He was, of course, being facetious). At Thanksgiving, we take the time to go around the table and everyone says what they're thankful for in their lives. We also take a few moments to express our sorrow for all the broken treaties, the syphillus the white man brought to the country, and how it all affected the Native Americans....

...and though I don't feel angry like this little guy on the soapbox, just thought I'd get down off the soapbox now.... (I deleted the little soapbox guy. I didn't realize he was cussing!)


post #20 of 33
Thread Starter 
Deep fried turkey is GREAT! As long as the oil is hot enough it sears the skin really quick so you don't get any of the oil seeping into the bird. A friend of ours slathers the bird with cajun seasoning before frying and it is SO YUMMY!

Earl reminded me of another tip/trick we do. When you make real mashed potatoes, warm up the butter and milk before you put it in. I heard the scientific explanation of why it works better but I don't remember. Something about it blending better with the starches in the potatoes so it truly joins it. All I know is that it really does make a difference for the better.
post #21 of 33
Put strips of bacon on the turkey for the cooking time and remove for last 30 to 45 minutes for browing. Adds great flavour.

We have a pork stuffing when my mother in law comes and a bread stuffing on my side of the fam. Both very delicious!
post #22 of 33
I have very difficult Thanksgiving plans.

I basically get up, get showered and dressed and drag myself to my Aunt's . I eat the food, and then surrender to the Turkey induced nap time . Gotta love it.
post #23 of 33
Laurie, Every year I swear I won't burst another turkey by putting in too much stuffing. Of course, I continue to do it, but now you are actually encouraging me! Oh, heaven help poor TOM TURKEY!
post #24 of 33
This thread has got me thinking about Xmas (turkey and boiled ham being the traditional fare). Any vegetarians out there with a special recipe that I can steal?
post #25 of 33

Cooking Light just recently put out their Thanksgiving issue, which had a vegetarian meal. There is also a vegetarian Thanksgiving menu on their website-it may be useful for Xmas, too. This is the link:

Go to the bottom of the page, to Menu Thirteen.
post #26 of 33
Hi Heidi,
you might like to try a German stuffing for a turkey You cut up an apple in small cubes,add raisins and prunes plus some breadcrumbs to suck up superfluous liquid.you fill this mixture in your turkey and it even tastes nice when you eat it with the meat. I usually add some of this mixture to the gravy improves the taste a lot.You see, that´s how we prepare a turkey in northern Germany
hope you like it. Have a lot of fun and don´t prepare too much food nobody is starving any longer and needs a good meal.
All the best Elisabeth
post #27 of 33
We're Scotch-Irish, and also have Roast beef and yorkshire pudding on Christmas. Mmm!

Thanksgiving I do with my other half's family. This year I am hosting. We're having turkey and stuffing of course! I'm not doing that part, they make it different than I do. I make turkeys a lot, in fact just made one last Saturday. I'm nuts! Then the usual sides and stuff. I don't really have a plan for this, just gonna wing it! Not eating until 4, so it should all work out!
post #28 of 33
Do I detect alicat in the house? How are ya doing?
post #29 of 33
Originally posted by adymarie
Put strips of bacon on the turkey for the cooking time and remove for last 30 to 45 minutes for browing. Adds great flavour.
I'll second that! That's the way we do the turkey around this house.
post #30 of 33
Thanks for the hello! I am going to post a reintro update, just also doing a ton of housework and expecting a guest any minute! Doing great, lots to tell!

That does sound yummy, with the bacon!
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