Previously posted in Nov 2007
Gobble, Gobble! A few turkey tales (no pun intended) and a great way to prepare your Mr. Gobble on this Thursday before Thanksgiving morning... (Mom calls every morning for a daily blog reading. This morning, we both cackled all the way through because of the silly memories!) on cooking turkeys...
Last year, after I shared this, I received so many emails saying that they'd tried cooking their turkey this way and what a huge hit it was. So, I share this little gem again. Years ago, we learned this great Thanksgiving tip. Cook your turkey upside down!! We use a Reynold's Browning Bag. Season the turkey as always, flour the bag, then place the turkey inside the bag breast side down. Place the browning bag in your roasting pan (I use the big foil ones because it is a great place to debone the meat and just toss the whole thing afterward. Mr. Granolaman, my husband, says that I "owe the earth an apology" every time I use a foil baking pan.) It makes the turkey heavenly moist because the drippings from the dark meat flow into the breast meat while it's cooking. Bake Mr. Gobble at about 285° all night long. Sllllooooooooow cooking is the key! Note: The little red thermometer will pop way early because it's in the juices, so you have to disregard it as your "it's done" gauge. We usually put Mr. G. in the oven right before bedtime and by morning, the yummy smell will wake everyone up. But, the best part is that when you pull Mr. Gobble out of the bag, the meat just falls off the bones. If you like to have the picture perfect golden delicious turkey on the platter to carve, this is not the method for you. The breast is buried in juices and does not brown. For us, eating a moist turkey sliced on a platter is more important than looking like the Waltons for the one moment before we eat. Enjoy!
I love to cook! LOVE IT! When Doug and I first married, for six months and three days, I never duplicated one meal. I spent my days on the ranch searching through my cookbooks for the perfect meal and each night, I'd prepare something new and wonderful. One of my proudest moments was Baked Alaska! Yep, I baked ice cream and it stayed frozen inside the cake! By our first Thanksgiving, I was feeling pretty sure of myself in the kitchen. I was anxious to take on our first Thanksgiving feast at home for just the two of us instead of joining Doug's family. However, I was mortified that I'd have to touch a raw Mr. Gobble!
My childhood memories of that pan of kucky looking innards on the stove on the night before Thanksgiving still haunts me today. As a child, I vowed that I'd never touch those nasty looking things called "gizzards". Apparently, this is the one non-southern bone in my body because I don't even like to say the word "gizzards", let alone think about eating them!
On that first Thanksgiving day, anxious to prepare a meal that matched my mom's perfection, I ended up calling her in tears... thirteen times! This was back when Ma Bell had the monopoly on telephones and five minutes of long distance day rates cost about $5. I called Mom with "How do I" questions all day long. The biggest crisis: I couldn't find the dang hole where the kucky things were hidden! I insisted that it had a backside, but there was no neck and was certain that I had bought the only turkey in history that was headless from the get-go. Mom still laughs and teases me about that one! I finally gave in and asked Doug for help. He had no problem with this. As I recall, he said something like, "If you touched it, it might help to find it." Eeewwwwwww.
There was also the Thanksgiving morning that we awoke to no scent of Mr. Gobble baking. That would be the year when I set the temperature but forgot to turn the oven on "Bake". We ate late that year. Oops. And I'll never hear the end of it for the year after that when I cooked that little plastic pack of kucky things right inside Mr. Gobble. I'd cleaned and rinsed him, inside and out but never gave a thought to the fact that they were frozen on the inside. (Doug still calls that my Freudian slip turkey.) Oops again.
Other than those few Thanksgiving disasters pertaining to Mr. Gobble, our Thanksgivings have always been pleasant and fun. I always pray for a beautiful blizzard right before so that it feels more festive and "over the river and through the woodsy". Today, I get it right, almost every time! We have our perfect feast, the exact same menu, anticipated all year long and reserved for that special day only. It took a few years to perfect the meal but I did discover the two best tips to our Thanksgiving perfection. First, I spend all of Wednesday cooking the entire meal except the rolls, Mr. Gobble and the Mashed potatoes and gravy. Everything else prepared a day early.... all ready to heat and serve right before the meal... No big messes in the kitchen on Thursday... the stress level lowered... I can relax and enjoy the day instead of spending the entire day in the kitchen before and after the meal.
And the most important thing that works for me, being that I still, thirty years later, hate the thought of touching Mr. Gobble until he's going on the platter or into a nice big pot of soup or turkey salad. Doug now takes care of Mr. Gobble! I hold the Browning bag open as he drops him him. Other than that, Doug takes him out of the packaging, prepares him, bakes him, debones him, separates half of him immediately into freezer ziploc bags for later use, fills the platter for the feast and takes out the trash while I make the gravy! It works for us!
The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking:
love, for those you are cooking for.