I’d like to think of myself as being a modern, evolving, and accepting human being, one that is open to change, considers other’s ideas and suggestions, and constantly alters set patterns of behavior in hopes of achieving self-growth and a new perspective. However, there are some things I just don’t mess with. Take Thanksgiving dinner, for instance. I know, I know, it’s a wild and changing world out there—many others are achieving growth by glazing their birds with exotic fruit juices, smoking them in the backyard in big old garbage pails or even taking the plunge and tossing their ode to our country’s heritage in frightfully deep vats of boiling oil. They all make for delicious meals, I am sure. You just won’t find them in my home.Call me a foodie hypocrite, a culinary closet conservative, or whatever you like. On this day I don’t budge on my traditions, and, year after year, sit my family down to a classic meal of roast turkey with herbed stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed onions, baby peas, and pumpkin and apple pies, respectively, all just like my mother made when I was a kid. I confess to one tiny slip-up in my traditionalism: my sister-in-law’s cranberry relish: too good not to introduce into our family ritual, even though, I still put out the jellied can stuff so as not to offend the die-hards.Occasionally, I get the 7-year turkey itch and my Thanksgiving routine temporarily feels boring. My mind may stray for an instant while looking at glossy magazine pictures exploring the new twists on bird stuffing, side dishes, or pie crusts, imagining what it may be like to prepare and eat these. But, before I can do any real damage in disrupting a solid and loving food family, my innate culinary instinct (a solid chunk of my DNA structure) kicks in, demanding and driving me to produce the traditional Thanksgiving dinner year after year. So far, I have heard no complaints from my family, just a whole lot of chewing.
Roast Turkey with Herbed Stuffing and Gravy
1 bag of white bread cut into 1" pieces and lightly toasted with the crust (or one bag of prepared bread crumbs for stuffing)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped Portobello mushrooms
1 cup chopped shitake mushrooms
1 cup chopped white mushrooms
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup Port wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large,non-stick skillet, heat butter over medium heat.
Sauté onions, celery, and mushrooms until onions are translucent, approximately 4 minutes. Add apples, sage, thyme, and parsley and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add bread crumbs and slowly pour in broth and Port wine, tossing with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely before stuffing the bird.
(from The Silver Palate Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins)
1 turkey, 18 – 22 pounds
2 large oranges, cut into halves
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
paprika, to taste
4 tablespoons corn oil
Preheat oven to 325F
Wash the turkey well and dry inside out. Be sure to remove any giblets from the cavity. Squeeze juice from the 2 oranges all over the outside of the bird and rub into the cavity. Salt and pepper the cavity, to taste. Fill the turkey with the stuffing, not packing too tightly. Sew up the cavity or close with small trussing skewers (additional stuffing can be placed in the neck cavity.) Rub the outside of the turkey all over with 1 1/2 sticks of the butter and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and paprika. Drape the turkey with a cheesecloth. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan and place in oven. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter with the 4 tablespoons of corn oil in a saucepan. Lift cheesecloth from the turkey and baste every 30 minutes, first with butter and oil mixture, later with the turkey's own juices. Roast for 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 hours or until the thigh juices run clear when pricked. There should be no traces of pinkness. The drumstick will move easily in the socket when the turkey is done. When turkey is done, remove to a heated platter and cover. Allow turkey to sit for 30 minutes before carving. Serves 10 – 15
Simply delicious, the gravy boat will never stop traveling around the table! The trick to this dish is to always begin it in the roasting pan of the turkey.
2 cups white wine
2 cups chicken broth
3-4 tablespoons flour
salt, to taste
After removing turkey from the roasting pan, place roasting pan over high heat (use two burners to accommodate pan's size.) When pan is hot, add white wine and scrape vigorously, making sure to remove all bits and pieces from the pan. Pour wine and pieces into a pan. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup gravy with the flour. Mix well and then slowly incorporate into the gravy, stirring constantly with a whisk. Let simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.