Serves: 6 to 8
12 to 15 pound turkey, rinsed thoroughly, giblets and neck removed
2 cups kosher or 1 cup table salt
½ stick butter
6 to 10 sage leaves
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons butter melted
12 cups prepared stuffing
1 tablespoon butter, plus extra to grease baking dish
1 cup chicken or turkey broth
Assemble all ingredients keeping wet and dry ingredients separate until ready to stuff the bird. Refrigerate if necessary.
PREPARE BASTING SOLUTION:
Cut up the ½ stick of butter into a small bowl or large mug. Add ¾ cup of turkey or chicken broth. Microwave at full power for 1 ½ minutes. Crumble or cut sage leaves and fresh thyme into the mixture. (if using different flavoring, crumble or cut appropriate flavor sources into the mixture.)
PREPARE THE TURKEY:
NON MICROWAVED STUFFING
COLLECTED THANKSGIVING HINTS
Determine how far in advance your chosen recipes can be made without sacrificing taste. For example:
Every cook has an idea, but it is helpful to review the recipes, the required amounts and what is in the cabinet, such as eggs, flour, sugar, chicken broth, milk, garlic, butter, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger, vanilla, brandy, rum, sherry or other alcohols for cooking.
Make sure, that you have the correct cooking weight. Figure out your turkey cooking timing in advance so that you know what time it has to go into the oven to be out an hour before you serve, then add 20 minutes to account for basting, turning etcetera.
There are dozens of turkey options, each with pros and cons. However, if you want moist white meat and a roasted brown skin (as opposed to a burnt black one) start roasting the turkey breast side down. It makes an enormous difference.
Because there is so little meat on the wings and because they stick out into the hot oven, wrapping your wings with foil until the last hour of roasting prevents them from being burnt.
To stuff or not to stuff was an annual debate for years. There were concerns about stuffed turkeys being inadequately cooked because the stuffing increases the roasting time. The gist of offered solutions was to pre-cook the stuffing. Recommendations included that half of the stuffing be put in the bird and the other half cooked in a buttered baking dish.
If you stuff, try positioning a wide mouthed canning funnel firmly into the bird’s cavity. The funnel will hold the bird open and allow the stuffing to get into the bird, instead of all over the counter. Another method is to use a large spoon and thermal Bluette gloves, which allows you to use your fingers to push the stuffing off the spoon and into the cavity.
TRUSSING THE TURKEY:
The current trend is to not truss the bird. The plus to not trussing is that the bird will cook more quickly. We stuff and truss and we start the roasting breast down then turn the bird over which guarantees moist white meat. If you truss, the simplest approach is:
MOVING A HOT TURKEY:
Forget all those fancy, expensive implements that require the juggling skills of a master. And put that kitchen towel that will tear apart the perfect roasted breast skin back in the drawer. Buy yourself a pair of thermal rubber gloves like Bluettes. If you start your bird breast down and need to turn it halfway or simply want to get the turkey to the platter in one confident piece, do it with your hands safely encased in these little gems.
CARVING THE TURKEY:
Lots of people have rules for this. I’ve recently found a few new tricks on the internet that makes it a lot easier, especially because many have videos. We all know how many words a picture is worth. Here’s the link to the one I liked best: http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/channels/how-to-carve-a-turkey.html
THE BASTING SOLUTION:
Whatever the flavors of this year’s bird, a 4 to 6 cup solution of butter, chicken broth, salt, pepper and the herbs or spices of choice and kept warm spot on or near the stove makes the basting go a bit more smoothly. If there’s anything left, it goes into the gravy.
THE BASTER: Vacuum basters that suck up and distribute basting solution and the pan drippings have had problems. If the tube is plastic it melts if it touchs the side of the pan. If the tube is metal, you can’t see how much is in it. Many have a nasty habit of squirting the liquid all over the oven and dripping uncontrollably. There was once a glass one that worked, but it broke. There is now one with a slanted tip that is dripless, the bulb provides real controlled release of the liquid and the clear plastic tube is reputed to withstand heat of up to 600◦.
This is the time when you need additional measuring spoons and cups. It is frustrating to have to stop what you’re doing to wash and dry the required utensil in the middle of a recipe.
Flowers are always lovely, but are frequently hard to see over and around on the table. They can however, brighten the room from other positions. If you prefer a centerpiece, choose one that can be assembled in advance and is low to the table.
GRANITE HARD BROWN SUGAR:
No matter how well sealed, brown sugar tends to lose its moisture becoming so hard as to double for marble. Place the lump of sugar in a microwavable container and place it in the microwave alongside a small bowl full of water. Microwave for about 1 minute. If it has not attained the needed degree of softness, give it another 30 seconds. Don’t microwave it too long or you will melt the sugar.
HOW TO CHOP ONIONS QUICKLY:
Peel your onions leaving the root end on. Halve the onion, root end up and again, leave the root end on, but slicing off the green or sprout end smoothly. Make narrow slices into the onion, from the sliced end toward the root end, but without cutting the piece of root that is holding the onion together. Turn the onion and now cut crosswise across the slices. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwGBt3V0yvc
When making one of the thousands of wonderful homemade cranberry sauces, if you freeze them, even briefly, they will be juicier and a little less tart.
PEELING FRESH CHESNUTS:
Parboil scored chestnuts before roasting them. Once roasted, cool them only to the point that you can hold them in your hand (another good use of the thermal rubber gloves). You will generally find them much easier to peel while they are still warm. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm6_P4_KJT4
Alternatively, you can purchase perfectly peeled chestnuts in a jar which work beautifully and are miles above the dried or frozen ones.
You may think that if you get one more call from a participant at your table about what they are unable or unwilling to eat you may be tempted to discourtesy. Should that occur, please watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX9EAavxrus
We post a new recipe (or two!) each week, and you can click on an item below to see all past recipes that feature that ingredient.
For more recipes from CT farmers' markets click here.
The NY Times also has a Recipe Generator to help you come up with great meals to make based on what you get at the market each week.