Sunday, November 22, 2009

Advice needed: How to avoid turkey jerky

For this first time, my husband and I are staying home for Thanksgiving this year. We would like to start our own traditions with our new baby, and thought this would be the perfect time to start.

I am very much looking forward to all the cooking, but there's just one problem...

...I've never cooked a turkey.

Me, posing with my mom's traditional 60 pound turkey as a tot. Ah, the memories.

Since it's just the two of us (as much as we wouldn't mind pumping a little tryptophan into the little guy post-dinner), I bought an 11 pound frozen turkey.

I've heard that I should brine the bird, and a friend passed over Emeril's recipe for brining and roasting. Some ladies at work told me to ignore everything anyone on TV said, cut up oranges, shove them in the bird, and stick it in the oven. Some people say baste, some people say it makes no difference.

The only thing I know -- the word "giblet" is not in my vocabulary. There will be no turkey organs in any gravy or stuffing of mine.

My other obstacle... I am cooking for a guy who doesn't enjoy turkey (he will "choke down a piece, once a year"), loathes mashed potatoes, hates vegetables, gets grossed out by stuffing, and becomes ill at the site of gravy. Eesh.

He's said he'll eat the turkey. He'll eat roasted potatoes, but not mashed. He'll eat a few roasted onions, but absolutely no carrots or sweet potatoes. And if I deglaze with a little white wine, he'll try the gravy. But our one source of contention... stuffing.

He will NOT eat it. I'm all for stuffing -- be it homemade, Stove Top, whatever. I'll eat it with delight and yes I'll take a second helping please. It's not Thanksgiving without it. John would rather eat the newspaper.

I asked him what it was he didn't like, and he said he really wasn't sure -- couldn't pinpoint it, but it likely came from "the disgusting celery pieces." Oh ye of little vegetables.

So, faithful readers -- both of you -- I need help with two things:

Do you have any tips for turkey cooking? And, any recipes for stuffing without "the disgusting celery pieces"? Please add them to the comments, if you do. My husband and his stomach thank you.


Erica Jacobson said...

To have a nice, moist turkey, employ the quilt method. About an hour before dinner, take the covered turkey pan out of the oven, wrap it in a quilt or blanket and set it out of the way in a bedroom.

It sounds insane, I know, but I got the method from the BEST home cook I've ever known. What basically happens is the turkey settles into its own juices quite nicely and there's no threat of overcooking it to jerky status. The two times I did this (I'm with your hubby on hating turkey), I got incredible compliments from everyone at the table on how it was the moistest turkey they'd ever had.

Good luck with the stuffing issue. I love stuffing by the pot full, so can't help you there. :)

Anonymous said...


I cook my turkey in an oven bag. They are in the ailse with plastic wrap, and it takes less time, it self baste's and if you follow how long the directions in the package say, it will come out moist. I have only done 2 turkey's so far with this year being my 3rd year, everyone has commented on how moist the turkey has come out...


Deidra said...

Thanksgiving is usually for the three of us plus maybe a few friends who cant be with family or drop by. To cook the turkey i clean it out, season it as we like, butter it/EVOO fill the bottom of roasting pan with water, feel free to stuff the turkey if you do,cover turkey with foil until the last half hour or so cook and baste away!
For stuffing I just get the classic stove top, its my fave anyways. My son has a small scoop and hubby will have the same in the name of the holiday the rest is mine for leftovers lol. We always have leftovers!! Good luck Amy, and enjoy starting your traditions!

CherylK said...

Hi there! I found you through "Visit our Peeps". I sympathize with you about your Thanksgiving menu dilemma.

If you're just going to do a small turkey (and 11 lbs. would qualify as small), the oven bag method is great. No mess to clean up. You'll love it. As for the dressing, just don't put celery in it. It'll be fine. You could use a little celery salt, though, to get that flavor if you like. If you cook it in a casserole dish instead of inside the turkey, he might like it better because it'll be less mushy. But add some broth to it if you do that so it won't dry out and cover the dish with foil or a lid.

Roasted potatoes and onions are fabulous! If you cook the turkey in a bag you can just pour the drippings into a small pot to make the gravy and adding wine is a great idea!

As for starting a tradition in your little family, maybe a special muffin recipe or a special recipe for biscuits or rolls and you could just do that every year. It'll all work out. Have a great day.