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Talking turkey.

Mark Twain sorely missed American cuisine while traveling in Europe - an adventure he chronicled in A Tramp Abroad. Anticipating an imminent return, Twain authored his ideal homecoming meal. "I have selected a few dishes, and made out a bill of fare, which will go home in the steamer that precedes me, and be hot when I arrive," he wrote. Foremost in this list of favorites was "roast turkey, Thanksgiving style."

Generations later, turkey still tops the charts of Americans' favorite foods. All year we look forward to the long-awaited feast and savor the memory of tantalizing aromas and delicious flavors of roast turkey and other well-loved holiday recipes.

The best way to roast a turkey remains a bone of contention among even well-seasoned cooks. As on well-known chef wrote, "Any expert will gladly tell you there's only one proper way to cook turkey: his way." The only "best" way to fix a turkey is the way that suits you and your family's taste best. There are a few ground rules. Here's a quick review of some roast-turkey basics.

To safely thaw a frozen turkey, leave the turkey in its plastic bag and place it on a tray in the refrigerator for three to four days, depending on its weight. In a hurry? Defrost the frozen tom in a deep sink filled with cold water; change the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes' defrosting time for each pound of dressed weight. Once defrosted, cook the bird immediately.

Place the bird on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. To get the most attractive turkey, place the turkey breast side up. For moister white meat, you can place the turkey breast side down on a V-rack during the first half of the cooking time. Then turn the turkey breast side up midway through the cooking process.

Use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the leg bone. If roasting the turkey breast side down during the first half of the cooking, you can delay inserting the thermometer until the turkey is turned breast side up.

Roast the turkey in a 325 [degrees] F. 4-4 1/2 oven, following the time and temperature indicated on the wrapper or recipe in your favorite cookbook (The Year-Round Turkey Cookbook by Barbara Gibbons is a creative and informative source). Brush skin with oil or natural juices to prevent it from drying. When skin is golden brown, shield breast loosely with lightweight foil to prevent overbrowning.

Check for doneness. The internal thigh temperature of the turkey should be 180 to 185 [degrees]. The thigh and drumstick meat should feel soft. When the thigh is pierced, juices should be clear, not pink.

Stuffing, anyone? As one child replied when asked if he preferred white or dark meat: "I'll just take more of what the turkey ate!" Almost everyone loves stuffing, so why not vary the experience from time to time? Experiment with different ingredients and recipes. Low-cal, high-fiber dressings can be made in a casserole - with more veggies and less bread, with no fat added - that promise to be just as tasty as the scaled-up counterparts. If your favorite recipe includes sausage, substitute the lower-fat turkey sausage and carve off considerable calories. Broth or pan drippings used to moisten the dressing should be fat-skimmed before being added to the mixture.

When in doubt, call the turkey hotline (1-800-323-4848). No question could startle the home economists manning the phones. The experts answer questions from college coeds, seniors, army sergeants, campers, and "expecting" fathers trying to roast the picture-perfect holiday turkey.

Traditional Stuffed Turkey

(Makes 18-20 servings)

1 pound fresh turkey sausage 1/2 cup Fleischmann's margarine 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped 1 medium onion, chopped 1/2 cup chopped celery 1/2 cup water 4 cups crumbled corn bread or 1 package (8 oz.) corn bread stuffing mix 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans 1/4 cup chopped parsley 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1 18- to 20-pound frozen ready-to-stuff turkey, thawed 1/2 cup juice or vegetable oil Salt to taste Pepper to taste

In 10" skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until browned, breaking apart with fork. Stir in 1/2 cup margarine, apples, onion, and celery; cook until celery is tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water; heat to boiling. Remove from heat. In large bowl, combine meat mixture with corn bread, pecans, parsley, and poultry seasoning. Stir until well-mixed.

Remove giblets and neck from inside turkey. Rinse turkey with running cold water; drain well. Spoon some stuffing lightly into neck cavity. Fold neck skin over stuffing; skewer closed. With turkey breast side up, lift wings up toward neck, then fold under back of bird to balance it.

Spoon remaining stuffing lightly into body cavity. Fold skin over opening; skewer closed. Tie legs or fasten under metal clip. On rack in roasting pan, place turkey breast side up. Brush skin with juice or vegetable oil to prevent drying out. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Insert meat thermometer to test for doneness.

Roast, uncovered, at 325 [degrees] F. 4-4 1/2 hours until thermometer reads 180 [degrees F]. or thickest part of drumstick feels soft when pressed between thumb and forefinger protected by paper towels. Baste occasionally with pan drippings. When skin turns golden, cover loosely with tent of foil. Begin checking for doneness after 3 hours cooking time. Toward end of roasting, remove foil; brush turkey with drippings.

Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes for easier carving. Serve with gravy.

Roast Turkey-Pineapple

Rice Stuffing

10- to 12-pound turkey Salt, if desired Pepper 1 can (20 oz.) juice-packed crushed pineapple Water 2 cups long-grain white rice 1/2 cup slivered almonds 1/4 cup Fleischmann's margarine 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion, including tops 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 cup raisins

Remove giblets and neck from turkey. Rinse turkey; drain and pat dry. Rub salt and pepper into neck and body cavities. Secure drumsticks lightly with string. Insert meat thermometer into center of thigh next to body, but not touching bone. Roast, uncovered, on roasting rack in 325 [degrees] F oven 20-22 minutes per pound. Turkey is done, as previously noted in article, when meat thermometer registers 17 [degrees]-180 [degrees] F

Prepare Pineapple rice Stuffing. Drain pineapple well; reserve juice. Add water to juice to make 4 1/4 cups. Bring to boil in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir in rice and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cover tightly; simmer 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat. Meanwhile, toast almonds in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Add margarine and onion and saute, stirring, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, cloves, raisins, and pineapple. Combine with rice. Serve immediately or place in buttered 2-quart casserole to reheat while turkey stands for carving.

When turkey is done, remove from stove and let stand 200-30 minutes before carving.

Dijon Turkey

(Makes 10-12 servings)

12- to 14-pound turkey, thawed if

frozen 1/3 cup grainy Dijon mustard Vegetable oil Sauce Dijon (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 [degrees] F Remove neck and giblets from turkey. Rinse turkey; drain well. Free legs from tucked position. Using rubber spatula or hand, loosen skin over breast, starting at body cavity opening by legs. Spread 2 tablespoons of mustard inside body cavity; spread remaining mustard on meat under skin. Hold skin in place at opening with wooden picks. Return legs to tucked position; turn wings back to hold neck skin place. Place turkey, breast side up, on flat rack in open pan, about 2" deep. Insert meat thermometer deep into thickest part of thigh next to body, not touching bone, Brush skin with oil.

Place turkey in oven and roast about 3 1/2-3 3/4 hours. When skin is golden brown, shield breast loosely with foil to prevent overbrowning. Check for doneness; thigh temperature should be 180 [degrees] F. Let turkey stand 15-20 minutes before carving.

Sauce Dijon

(Makes 3 1/2 cups)

Remove fat from turkey drippings; add enough water to make 2 cups, if necessary. In medium saucepan, with wire whisk, blend drippings and 3 tablespoons all purpose flour. cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and begins to boil. Stir in 1 cup low-fat yogurt, 1/4 cup grainy Dijon mustard, and 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened; do not boil.

Berniece's Best Turkey

(Makes 8-10 servings)

10- to 12-pound turkey, fresh or frozen Paprika Black Pepper Salt 1 medium onion 1 stalk celery

Remove giblets and neck from inside turkey. Rinse turkey with running cold water; drain well. Rub turkey inside and out with paprika, black pepper, and salt. Cut up onion and stalk of celery. Place inside turkey cavity for added moistness.

Cover with foil Bake at 325 [degrees] F. 2-2 1/2 hours depending on weight. Remove foil last 20 minutes to brown.

Prosciutto and Barley

Stuffed Turkey

(Makes 10-12 servings)

1/2 cup margarine 1 1/2 cups chopped onion 1 1/2 cups chopped celery 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto ham,

cut into julienne strips 4 cups dried stuffing cubes 2 cups cooked barley 1 cup chicken broth 12- to 14-pound turkey, thawed if

frozen Vegetable oil

Melt margarine in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 7-8 minutes. Stir in thyme and prosciutto. In large bowl, combine stuffing cubes, barley, vegetable-prosciutto mixture, and broth. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 [degrees] F. Remove neck and giblets form turkey cavities. Rinse turkey and drain well. Stuff neck and body cavities lightly with stuffing. Turn wings back to hold neck skin in place. Place turkey, breast side up, on flat rack in open pan, about 2" deep.

Insert meat thermometer deep into thickest part of thigh next to body, not touching bone. Brush skin with oil. Place turkey in oven and roast about 4-4 1/2 hours. When skin is golden brown, shield breast loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Check for doneness; thigh temperature should be 180 [degrees]-185 [degrees] F. F. Let turkey stand 15-20 minutes before carving.

Especially Festive Rice


(Makes 6 servings)

1/4 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained 2 1/4 cups boiling chicken broth, divided 1 cup slice mushrooms 1/2 cup each chopped onions and celery 1 tablespoon unsalted poly-unsaturated margarine 3/4 cup uncooked price 1 small tart red apple, cored and chopped 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted, if desired.

Place wild rice in deep 2-quart baking dish coated with vegetable cooking spray. Add 1 cup broth. Cover and bake at 350 [degrees] F. 45 minutes. Cook mushrooms, onions, and celery in margarine in large skillet until tender crisp. Add to baking dish. Stir in rice and remaining 1 1/4 cups broth. Cover; bake at 350 [degrees] F. 25 minutes, or until rices are tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir in apple; cover and let stand 2 minutes.

Garnish with almonds, if desired. Serve with roast turkey.

Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing

(Makes 8 cups)

1 1/2 cups chopped onion 1 1/2 cups chopped celery 1/2 cup margarine 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 1 teaspoon rubbed sage 1 teaspoon salt Dash ground black pepper 1/2 cup water or chicken broth 8 cups dried whole-wheat bread cubes (10-12 bread slices, cubed and dried overnight)

Cook and stir onion and celery in margarine in medium skillet over medium heat until tender. Stir in seasonings. Add onion mixture and water to bread cubes in large bowl. Toss to mix. Stuff neck and body cavities of turkey. Roast immediately.

Guilt-Free Turkey Gravy

(Makes 4 cups)

4 tablespoons cornstarch 4 tablespoons water 4 cups turkey broth and defatted pan juices (see directions for turkey broth below) Salt and pepper

In small bowl combine cornstarch and water. In large saucepan, over medium heat, bring turkey broth and pan juices to boil. Stir in cornstarch mixture and continue beating until gravy is thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make turkey broth: In large pan, over high heat, bring 4 cups water, turkey giblets, 1 sliced celery stalk, 1 sliced carrot, 1 sliced onion, 1 bay leaf, 3 parsley sprigs, and 4 pepper-corns to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 1 hour. Strain both and use to make gravy.

Fiber-Full Stuffing

(Makes 6 servings)

10 slices whole-wheat or whole-grain bread 1/2 cup turkey broth, skimmed 1 cup chopped celery 1 cup peeled and chopped onion 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning Salt and pepper

Dry bread slices overnight. Dice bread into cubes. Toss lightly with remaining ingredients. Spoon mixture into casserole. Cover and bake 45 minutes at 350 [degrees] F. or 1 hour at 325 [degrees] F.

"Lite" Apricot Stuffing

(Makes 8 servings)

1 cup sliced celery 3/4 cup chopped onion 1 1/2 cups turkey broth or reduced-sodium chicken bouillon 16 slices reduced-calorie bread, cubed and dried 2 tablespoons dried parsley 1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning 1/2 teaspoons salt 2 egg whites 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots

In small saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine celery, onions, and turkey broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

In large bowl combine celery-onion mixture, bread cubes, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt, egg whites, and apricots. Spoon into lightly greased 2-quart casserole; cover. Bake in oven last 1/2 hour of turkey roasting time.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Saturday Evening Post Society
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Author:Perry, Patrick
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Nov 1, 1990
Previous Article:The great hugging plague.
Next Article:Be good to your heart for the holidays.

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