Let's Talk Turkey

It's 10:15 and I totally forgot that I'm supposed to be blogging.

Also, tomorrow it's Thursday. Which means Thanksgiving is in ONE WEEK. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

So rather than post a random photo or two (though I'm tempted), I thought I would ask you to please tell me:

- Where is the best place to get a Thanksgiving turkey?

- What is the best way to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey?

Last year I cooked a turkey for the first time, and after exhaustive research and like, three near-panic attacks, I decided to get the bird from Whole Foods, brine it with a bag and brine from Williams-Sonoma, and roast it according to Alton Brown's instructions (which rely heavily on the use of aromatics).

The result was quite good...

Seriously. Not bad for a first time!
Also, nothing caught on fire!

...and I plan to follow the same procedures this year. The only thing I didn't like about last year's bird was that it cooked a lot faster than an un-brined bird would have. Which is fine on the one hand (fast is efficient!), but kind of sad on the other because part of the joy of Thanksgiving is having the smell of turkey wafting through the house all day long. I also think the aromatics didn't get an opportunity to do their thing for the same reason (even though I microwaved them in water to get them going).

Also, I need a better stuffing recipe. I want something with a LOT of flavor that doesn't involve sausage or rely on celery. I have yet to find a stuffing I like better than the stupid Stove Top mix (yes, shutup), even though I've gone to elaborate lengths to try and find a replacement.

Lastly, what do you use to tie/truss the turkey with? This part eludes me. Can someone explain, please?


  1. Can't help you with the turkey, obviously, but this is the stuffing I have been making for a few years now. You could mess with the apple- celery ratio if you don't want that much celery. Oh, and I definitely don't consider the toasted almonds optional!


  2. If you STUFF your turkey it will take longer to roast ... and there was a FABULOUS looking stuffing recipe in a pamphlet that I picked up recently from Williams Sonoma (you seem to be a fan !!) They also had step by step instructions for how to truss the bird. One stop shopping.

  3. I've yet to make my own turkey (crap oven in a rental property!), however I remember my dad had these metal things and some twine. The metal things were shapped like this: O---- and you poke them into the turkey, across the opening and then use the twine to "lace up" like a shoe.

    Fig. 1.
    (very crude diagram! :) )

    I like prepackaged stuffing also. Who says you have to make it from scratch if the stuff in the box is good? :)

    I live in the UK now with my English husband, so they don't have Thanksgiving. And since it is difficult to get everyone together at the "right time", I set up a meal at a later date that we have coined "Fakesgiving". Last year was the first time I did it, and since I don't trust my oven to cook stuff properly and didn't want to poison people, we bought an already cooked chicken from the deli counter at the supermarket (which tastes really good anyway) and just didn't tell anyone! (Well, until later, but even mum was fooled! hehe)

    Good luck :D

  4. i can't help with the stuffing if you don't want sausage...that just doesn't make sense! but definitely check food network's website - they have a million options, and if you just watch the star ratings, you'll find the good ones.

    as for trussing, just go buy some butcher's twine in the supplies section at the grocery store (it will be near the hardware like the foil baking pans and spatulas). i don't ever fully truss - too hard! just tie the legs together and, if you're worried about them, tuck the wings under the bird. you can try martha's tying method, which is a bit easier than true threaded trussing like the above poster recommended - for me, i'm just not clever enough for either.

    http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/how-to-roast-a-turkey#slide_7 (scroll down and watch the "stuffing a turkey" video - that includes the trussing demo.

  5. I love my Stove Top! I decided years ago that would be my stuffing and who cares if it isn't gourmet? =)

  6. Boston Market. And prepare by taking it out of the container and putting it on a plate :o) OK, I'm no help. I'm not a huge Thanksgiving fan and have this fantasy of just ordering pizza.

  7. My stuffing is one of the few things that I do without a recipe and I think it's pretty awesome. Equal parts celery, onions and apples (usually Granny Smith), loads of sage and roughly chopped walnuts. I use veggie stock and very little butter since there's so much flavor from the apples and walnuts. Sometimes I add mushrooms. I generally use half white and half whole wheat bread cubes. Salt and pepper to taste. Since I'm a veggie and my husband is not - I stuff the turkey and make a huge casserole dish for me.

  8. Fry the turkey! It's the only way to go! I know, so much for tradition, right? But dang it, fried turkey is sooo good.
    Oh, & A+ on Stovetop stuffing, too. It's definitely the best, I agree.

  9. I def. agree with the fried turkey commenter. (I never trussed the turkey, my dad did, so I don't know how difficult it is.) Fried turkey is awesome. The only problem is where to store the thing you fry the bird in until next year. LOL

    Also, my comment above sounds like I didn't tell ppl we were having chicken - we did tell them that part, but they were totally convinced that we roasted it in the oven ourselves! :)

  10. We started frying our turkey a few years ago and I just can't do an oven baked bird anymore. A fried turkey is juicy and full of flavor - very yummy.

    As for dressing, look up Giada on the foot network. She has a great recipe for cornbread dressing that looked delicious that I might have to try this year.

    Good luck trussing and all that jazz!

  11. replace the celery in a recipe with water chestnuts - delicious!

  12. I make a bacon/sausage/cornbread stuffing that I add a bit of bacon grease and turkey drippings to for the "cook by itself stuffing", as well as parsley, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, and a whole lot of other spices. The stuffing I cook in the bird is always so moist I don't need to add any extra liquid. (And yes, I make the cornbread myself a few days in advance with a box or 2 of Jiffy mix and then season the crap out of that, too.)

    I also rub my stuffed turkey with an olive oil and heavily spiced mixture before baking and then baste the crap out of it every 30-45 minutes. At 350, it still takes several hours to cook.

    I LOVE cooking Thanksgiving meal. Love it!

    Also, get some butcher's twin and put it under the bird before you cook it to make a little sling to hoist it out of your roasting pan.

  13. I was reading another blog today that she recommended this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/dave-lieberman/sourdough-bread-stuffing-recipe/index.html and she suggested you add some bacon as well for general yumminess.

    And I really really really want to try her pumpkin cheesecake: http://lemmonex.com/2007/11/this-will-make-people-like-you/

    (Ah, aside from recommending the first recipe up top, she also has posted this one: http://lemmonex.com/2008/11/the-daughter-the-daughter-tradition/)

  14. My family uses an oyster stuffing that you would either love or hate, there seems to be no middle ground. Sadly I haven't the recipe, but there must be some out there on Ye Olde Intarwebs. Further, the brining was done last year by this year's fiancé, and it resulted in a scrumptious turkey. I definitely recommend that. So both together, plus plain old string for the trussing = tastyliciousness!

  15. i make my own stuffing and it does involve sausage and it will make you cry tears of joy.

    i think you can easily jazz up stovetop for thanskgiving with a few little secrets.

    1) apple, green. peel and chop then sautee in some olive oil or butter with a little onion and a little celery (it really adds something and you don't need much) - cook til onions are clear.

    2) dried fruit: after you put the turkey in; put some currants and dried cranberries in a small bowl and pour in just enough whiskey cover. let that sit.

    3) homemade chicken broth. put a chicken in the crockpot this week with half a bottle of white wine and some poultry seasoning. make whatever with the chicken, then save the broth (scale off the gross fat that will form when you refrigerate it)

    4) nuts. i'm from texas, so it's pecans or nothing. i've heard people use walnuts at the holidays. those people are probably the same ones that put beans in their chili.

    okay - so you got your stovetop, you'll probably need 2 boxes. dump the dry stuff into a bowl, then substitute your chicken broth for the water (you may need to heat it up); add the apple mixture and the dried fruit--whiskey and all. check the consistency. you may need more bready stuff or more liquid. plain sandwich bread will work. but don't tell me if you do that, because i'll have to poke you.

    mix it all up and put it in your baking dish. you want it a little wet almost soupy-ish. then sprinkle the pecans on top. then bake til it's kinda firm like bread pudding.

    i have brined my turkeys a'la alton for years. but i've come to think a good turkey is really all in the temp control. digital termometer with an alarm: way to go.

    oh mother mary how i love thanksgiving.

    happy first thanksgiving as a MOMMY!

  16. OK, I'm just saying, my cornbread dressing (we don't stuff in the south)is the best on the planet, I ALWAYS have to make it no matter where we're doing Thanksgiving.

    Most southerners groan when they hear cornbread dressing because it's often dry as dust. The trick is to make the cornbread with just a skosh (technical term) more fat and liquid than called for on the the recipe on the back of the White Lily cornmeal mix bag. Yes, you must use White Lily, even if you have to order it online. Williams Sonoma used to carry it; I'm not sure about now.

    Combine one 9x9 pan's worth of cornbread with the stuffing mix of your choice (I use Pepperidge Farm Sage & Onion). Add two medium onions that you have diced and softened in the microwave with a stick of butter (no, I did not say it was healthy, just yummy). I also add as much minced garlic as I think my guests will tolerate. Mix well, then *soak* (and I mean soak) with Kitchen Basics chicken *stock* (not broth) and a can or two of Swanson's roasted garlic chicken broth. It usually takes two boxes of stock and two cans of broth for me. Then add sage and white pepper to taste; I use lots of both.

    It will be wet, runny even. Do not be afraid. Dump it all into your largest casserole dish and bake at 350 for however long it takes to get golden brown on top. It will be moist and heavenly!

    Warning: you will have to make this for everyone who tastes it for the rest of your life.

  17. Easiest stuffing ever...loaf of bread, let it sit out, covered in a dishcloth to dry up a bit overnight. Chop up an onion or 2. Cook some potatoes, mash them. Tear your bread up in chunks, mix in with cooled mashed potatoes, chopped onions and summer savory, with salt and pepper to taste then add a generous amount of melted butter gradually, while mixing it up by hand. This is how my mother has always made stuffing and its simple and delicious! In fact I could make a whole Thanksgiving meal on just the stuffing...MMM!

  18. I make a wonderful cornbread dressing...a Southern thing. And the best place to cook a turkey is in my oven...I usually buy wherever they are cheapest. This year Albertson's had a deal that wound up with the turkey costing 31 cents and Seminary Food Store has them for 29 cents a pound. That is fabulous.

    Hope you get or find a great stuffing recipe.

  19. Yep, I was going to say the Ina Garten recipe too. It's awesome.

  20. Cook the turkey upside down for the first hour....so all of the juices go to the breast then turn over for the rest of the cooking time. As for stuffing I make a very basic bread stuffing (croutons, butter, onion, celerey, egg, sage and the like) the only special thing about it is that we form the stuffing into balls about the size of a tennis ball and bake them on a sheet pan so everyone gets the crusty outside and the moist inside...and we call them stuffing balls and that's funny ;)

  21. If you're anti-Stove Top (although, why play? it's delicious) I would go with one of the Pepperidge Farms bags of cubed seasoned bread stuff and then just add to it as you see fit. I personally like a lot of onions and sage (and celery) in mine...but if you're anti-celery leave out most of it. If it's a texture thing, you could add some celery salt in place of table salt to get the flavor w/o the texture. Celery salt is also where it is at for your Bloody Mary while prepping that morning. Seriously delicious.

    As to buying the turkey, I think any old place will do. I don't subscribe to the organic thing, but I do try to buy locally.

    Good luck!

  22. We fry our turkey. I have baked and smoked on the grill before but once we fried a turkey that's my favorite. Also, tell your friends and fry their turkeys, too, because if you're going to fry one it's just as easy to fry 5, then you can have an impromptu party Thanksgiving morning! It's so much fun! Can't help you on the stuffing my husband makes his cornbread dressing and it's wonderful. I grew up with the stale bread dressing and love that but it involves sage and celery. You might want to go on the Food Network for some recipes. Good luck!

  23. My boyfriend's family has had great success using the Jacques and Julia deconstructed turkey method. They also buy extra legs since they like dark meat better. They roll the stuffing into the legs, which go around the outside of the pan, and place the breast on top of a mound of stuffing. Then you can use the bones to make a stock or flavor the gravy. I don't know about stuffing recipe unfortunately, but with this method, although everything cooks faster and is easier to serve, the flavors have more of a chance to permeate the meat with the bones out of the way.

  24. Stuffing: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/apple-and-onion-stuffin-muffins-recipe/index.html.

    I have made every year, it is amazing. Just ignore the whole muffin thing (if you want.) I am normally not a Rachael Ray fan, but this stuffing is worth her annoying directions and catch phrases.

    I think everyone else already covered the turkey. :)

  25. What Nicole said. Though I don't put potatoes in mine. And be generous with the summer savory. You don't want to skimp on it. The dressing can handle (and needs) a lot.

  26. Fresh sage and poultry seasoning are the trick to flavorful stuffing. I make mine with equal parts cornbread (not the sweet kind) and stale white bread, saute equal parts onion and celery in a stick of butter, mix it all together, moisten with chicken broth and 3 eggs and season with salt, pepper, sage, and poultry seasoning to taste.

  27. Yummy & simple stuffing: 1 pkg. cornbread stuffing mix (we use Pepperage Farms). To that add 1 egg, 1- 1 1/2 cans turkey (or chicken) broth, 1 small chopped onion and equal amounts of chopped celery and finally sage. I add this to taste. I know, I know...raw egg and everything, but I'm still alive. Then cover with alum. foil if you're baking in a pan, and pop it into the oven. Bake for approx. 1 hour. Uncover for the last 10 min or so to brown.

  28. I have two words for you....MAPLE SYRUP! The best tasting turkey EVER!! Add a little extra to the gravy and no one will ever go anywhere else for Thanksgiving.


  29. i AM NOT a stuffing eater. it may have something to do with the texture but the smell is so delicious every year that i always try one bite anyways! well, i was at trader joes yesterday and they were sampling their cornbread stuffing and it was SO GOOD! i've had a hard time not ripping the box open and making it for myself everytime i open the pantry!


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