There is an art to properly cooking your Thanksgiving turkey. A perfectly roasted bird should have a rich, golden skin and tender, succulent meat.
An eight- to 12-pound turkey should easily feed a hungry family of six. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the bird in a roasting pan with a wire rack to allow proper air circulation during the cooking process.
If you choose to stuff your bird, do so just before putting it in the oven to prevent any possibility of food-borne llnesses.
Also, stuffed turkeys require about a half-hour additional cooking time.
An unstuffed turkey should reach 175 degrees in about two hours and 45 minutes to three and a half hours. Keep in mind that it will continue cooking during the setting process and will peak in temperature at about 180 degrees or more.
Regular basting will retain moisture. To avoid overbrowning, you can loosely cover with aluminum foil during the last hour or so. A meat thermometer will ultimately determine doneness, but you ll know when the legs move freely. Good luck, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Cornbread and Pecan Stuffing
This stuffing is richer if stuffed in the bird itself, but is still very tasty baked in a casserole dish. I use the meat from the neck and giblets along with chicken stock to create the best results. Here s the recipe:
1 cup butter, melted
3 celery stalks
1 large yellow onion
1 red pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper (about four twists)
1 tsp. kosher salt
16 oz. pre-seasoned cornbread stuffing mix (or create your own sage-and-thyme-seasoned, crouton-sized cornbread cubes)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil the neck, gizzards, heart and enough water to just cover it all. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 45 minutes, checking your liquid levels from time to time so you don t burn anything. Add the liver and cook for another 15 minutes. Strain broth, pull the meat and discard the bones, saving the broth for the gravy later on.
Sauté the giblets with four tablespoons butter or bacon fat. Remove giblets and add the vegetable mixture, cooking on low to medium heat until caramelized.
Chop giblets and combine all ingredients evenly. Now you are ready to stuff your bird. Take care to properly lose the flap or hatch or whatever you want to call it, but make sure it s closed! The leftover mixture can be baked at 325 degrees for 30 minutes in a standard casserole dish.
Home-style Turkey Gravy
A turkey dinner just wouldn t be the same without home-style turkey gravy, so here s the science to show you the way. Actually there is little science here just make sure there aren t any lumps! Here goes:
Remove rack from roasting pan and sieve your drippings into a big measuring cup. Add the broth created from the neck and gizzards, etc., into the pan to loosen up the brownish specks of flavor stuck to the bottom ( deglaze would be the proper culinary term). Let stand until the fat separates and floats to the top for easy removal.
Keep two tablespoons of turkey fat and use it to make a roux, cooking it with a couple of tablespoons of white flour and half a teaspoon kosher (because it tastes better) salt over medium heat until you see a golden color and bubbles.
Gradually add remaining broth and enough liquid consommé or water all the while stirring continuously.
This should make about three to four cups of gravy.
Courtesy of Chef Jeff Holley, Capitol Grill at White House Hotel
Pumpkin Pie Recipe
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. Crisco
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 tbsp. apple vinegar
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, adding the
Crisco gradually. In a separate bowl beat the yolk, water
and vinegar, then add the dry ingredients and combine.
Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on
a table and roll out the dough, then mold into a 9-inch pie
pan. Put it in the oven for about 3 minutes, until golden.
1/4 cup mashed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup regular milk
2 tsp. vanilla
Beat the mashed pumpkin with the sugar and salt.Add the eggs one by one, then the cinnamon, ginger, flour and milk. Add the vanilla. Pour the mixture into the pie pan and bake at 300 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the pie comes out dry.