Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Turkey Exploded!

Do you like the Thanksgiving celebration?  It is one of my favorite meals.  I love the dark meat, dressing, and gravy.  OOPS, almost forgot the cranberries.  I am not so much into the side dishes.

I have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a long time.  I remember the first time I made the dinner for Michael’s family.  We had not yet celebrated our first anniversary so I guess that is why my cooking may have surprised my beloved father-in-law.

I learned how to make the dressing from my Mom’s mom.  Her stuffing was more like a savory bread pudding.  Sunday dinners at her home always had the same things, chicken, mashed potatoes, noodles, and dressing I always looked forward to the dressing.

My first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner was rather exciting for me.  I did not do the triple starch, only the mashed potatoes and my favorite the dressing.  I used about six loaves of bread along with 14 eggs.  Yes, you read that correctly, 14 eggs.  I love sage, so my dressing had a green tint to it as well as being moist.  The turkeys we served were always 25 pounds plus.  For the cooking, I believed in tightly crimping aluminum foil around the roaster to keep the turkey moist and it cooks evenly and in less time. 

Michael and his dad pulled the roaster from the oven, and slowly carefully, peeled back the foil to lift the turkey out to carve.  To their surprise, the turkey had self-carved compliments of the egg rich dressing stuffed into the bird.  The legs had separated from the carcass and the breast had fallen off the bone.  Lifting it out of the roaster was the biggest problem of the day.  My turkey exploded!  However, it remained very moist since the foil sealed in all the liquids.  Dad O’Kane had never seen such a thing before, and to my delight, he enjoyed the dressing. 

As time went on, we enjoyed cooking the holiday meals and tried some of the strangest things in our cooking methods.  One year Michael read a recipe in a magazine that deboned the turkey before cooking it.  He carefully pulled the skin back, and carved the breast meat off the bone and removed the breastbone.  Then he stuffed layers of the sliced breast meat and dressing to fill the cavity.  To finish, he delicately laid the skin back over the redesigned main course, and stitched the skin back in place.  This certainly made for easy carving at the table and interesting conversations for the family. 

One year we did the side dishes the day before.  I had two very large electric roasters, which were set up as a steaming station.  The side dishes were ready when the bird was ready.  I guess, as we got older we developed stress saving methods.

Michael, who happens to make wonderful bread, now bakes about six loaves of sage bread for the dressing.  We control the ingredients in an effort to avoid preservatives and unnecessary fats.  Besides, it makes the house smell so luscious.    

Today, I still have the same results; my turkeys carve themselves.  Oh yes, our birds are still 25 pounds plus.  What do we do with all the leftovers?  The answer is simple; club sandwiches on Friday, turkey salad on Saturday, and the rest, “turkey pot pies” putting all the left over meat, gravy, and veggies, in frozen pie shells for quick meals down the road. 

Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity for us to express the many reasons why we give thanks.  We have love, family, friends, and freedom.  Remembering, the freedom of religion was a major reasons the pilgrims sought refuge in this land.  We should remember our troops fighting so that all of our freedoms remain.  So in this season of gratitude, let us remember our troops, home and abroad, as they stand ready to defend our land and liberties.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!