Thanksgiving Turkey

Coming from Norway, having lived in the USA and living in Sweden, my traditions have become a mix of many cultures. And as I keep my Norwegian and even Swedish one´s I also like to mix it with a little American. And next weekend is Thanksgiving in the USA. Thursday is actually Thanksgiving and the day for the Turkey.

Recipes for making a whole turkey in the oven are so many. There are so many ways to fill it and also various spices to use, all according to taste really. So to give a recipe is kind of hard. There are also a variety of things that you usually serve with the turkey from Brussel sprouts to red cabbage. Also what kind of potatoes, mashed or baked in various ways. It could be made with filling or simply with boiled potatoes and green beans. It could be a good creamy sauce and a filling with fruits mainly mixed with the liver and spices, or a breadfilling, or one with minced meat. For your own turkey search recipes that you like.

A turkey is too much for me alone or just a few like me and my daughter when she lived at home, but I don´t mind the left overs. It is nice to have another meal ready to just heat in the micro the day after. And I also use to take the meat off the bones, cut it in smaller pieces and put it in portions in the freezer to be used for future meals of various kind.

I will give you two recipes for roasting Turkey below and with different fillings and sauce.

How to roast a turkey

If you have never roasted a turkey before, or if your turkeys always turn out dry, here is a handy guide to preparing the perfect Thanksgiving bird.

Preheat the oven to 176 Celcius Degrees (350 Fahrenheit degrees).

Prepare the Turkey

Remove the turkey from its packaging, but save the wrapping for its information on suggested cooking times.

Remove and discard the metal or plastic braces that are holding the legs in place.

Remove the giblets and neck. If you plan to cook these with the bird or use them in your stuffing, set them aside. You can also freeze them (if your turkey was fresh) to use later for turkey stock. Or you can cook them (wrapped inside tin foil) and feed them to your pets.

Wash the turkey thoroughly, inside and out, with cold running tap water. Water from the cavity of the bird should eventually run clear, i.e. no blood.

Trim away any excess skin and fat from the neck and bottom of the turkey.

Place the turkey, breast side up, in a non-shallow roasting pan.

If you are planning to stuff the bird, you might want to first line the roasting pan with celery and onions or an herbal bundle (thyme, rosemary and sage all complement the natural flavor of turkey). Then stuff the bird with your homemade stuffing.

If you are not planning to stuff the bird, fill the cavity with one or more of the following to enhance the flavor of the meat: celery and onions; an herb bouquet; chopped apples; or even a whole orange or lemon (punctured with fork tines to release more flavor).

Pour a stick of melted butter or margarine over the turkey.

Season the turkey by rubbing herbs or seasoning in to the skin of the bird. Chose from any combination of freshly ground sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, dried onions or onion powder, minced garlic, sage, savory, lemon pepper, lemon juice or basil. Let your taste buds and your imagination guide you.

Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the roasting pan and insert a meat thermometer deep into the thigh area.

Place the pan into the preheated oven. Open the oven door first, as the pan will be extremely heavy, particularly if your bird is stuffed. Set a timer for the length of time recommended on the packaging, which will be between three and six hours, depending on the size of the turkey (and your individual oven). Be sure to check on the bird every hour and bade it each time. When done, the outside skin will be brown and lightly crispy, the meat thermometer will register at least 82 Celsius Degrees (180 Fahrenheit degrees), and both legs and wings will move easily. A well-cooked bird will have tender, moist meat; an overcooked one will have dry (and potentially flavorless) meat.

Remove the turkey from oven and let it sit on your counter for about 20-30 minutes before carving. Cover with a roasting pan lid, especially if you have animals at home.

Old Fashioned Bread Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 loaves of white bread (or 5 if you like leftovers)
  • Water
  • Chicken broth
  • Insides of the turkey
  • 2 bunches of celery
  • 1 or 2 onions
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp  sage
  • Oysters (optional)
  • Mushrooms (option)

Instructions:

The night before you want to eat the stuffing, break the bread into small pieces (about 1 inch squares) into 2 huge bowls or pots. Let the bread sit overnight to dry out.

The next day, after you remove the insides of turkey, boil them in water in 2/3 qt. sauce pan until cooked (about 20/30 minutes).

Remove insides for later use or discard. Keep water and put aside.

Preheat oven to 176 Celsius Degrees (350 Fahrenheit degrees).

Chop onion and celery and place into food processor until minced.

Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in large saucepan.

Saute onion and celery until heated through. Do not brown! (Saute mushrooms also at this time if wanted). Depending on how much stuffing you want and how much celery and onion you\’ve chopped, you may have to saute the onion and celery in two parts.

Once cooked, pour the onion/celery mixture directly over the dried out bread.

Pour 1/2 tsp sage over bread/onion/celery mixture.

Then take your reserved water and pour slowly over bread. The bread will shrink as you do this. Be careful not to pour too much water in.

Mix thoroughly and smell/taste for perfect stuffing.

If you need more liquid, add chicken broth and pour over bread. If you need more spice, add more sage.

If you are using oysters, add them now.

Once stuffing is of a consistency that it will stick together and does not look too dry, do not add more liquid.

Either stuff in turkey to be baked in oven, or put in a separate 9 x 13 pan.

If using oysters, it is recommended that you bake the stuffing in a pan so as to ensure the oysters will be cooked through.

Bake in 176 Celsius Degrees (350 Fahrenheit degree) oven for 45 minutes to an hour. You want the stuffing to have a nice brown crust on top.

Basic Turkey Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package Neck, heart, gizzard from Turkey giblets
  • 1 Medium carrot thickly sliced
  • 1 Medium onion thickly sliced
  • 1 Medium celery rib thickly sliced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Turkey liver
  • 3 Tablespoons fat from poultry drippings
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt

Instructions:

In a saucepan, over high heat, place neck, heart, gizzard, vegetables, and salt in enough water to cover.

Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 45 minutes.

Add liver and cook 15 minutes longer. Strain both into a large bowl; cover and reserve broth in the refrigerator.

To make gravy, remove the cooked turkey and roasting rack from the roasting pan. Pour poultry drippings through a sieve into a measuring cup.

Add 1 cup giblet broth to the roasting pan and stir until the crusty brown bits are loosened; pour the deglazed liquid/broth into the measuring cup. Let the mixture stand a few minutes, until the fat rises to the top.

Over medium heat, spoon 3 tablespoons fat from the poultry drippings into a saucepan. Whisk flour and salt into the heated fat and continue to cook and stir until the flour turns golden.

Meanwhile, skim and discard any fat that remains on top of the poultry drippings. Add remaining broth and enough water to the poultry drippings to equal 3-1/2 cups.

Gradually whisk in warm poultry drippings/broth mixture.

Cook and stir, until gravy boils and is slightly thick.

Here is another recipe

Roasted Turkey

Ingredients:

  • 1 Turkey
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon

Stuffing with ground beef:

  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 0,5 dl water
  • 1,5 tsp salt
  • 0,5 tsp black pepper
  • 750 g ground beef
  • 1 dl bread crumbs
  • 1 dl prunes

For the Turkey

  • 4 tsp salt
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 dl pressed orange juice
  • 2 tbs pressed lemon juice

Instructions:

Defrost the Turkey and remove the giblets if they are in the Turkey. Save this for the sauce. Dry off the in and outside of the Turkey with a paper towel.

Divide the orange in smaller parts and even the lemon and put them inside the back part of the Turkey. Tie the legs with a steak string to keep the Turkey together. Put the oven on 175 Degrees Celsius.

Make the stuffing:

Cut the onion in small pieces and fry up in a frying pan in a little bit of oil, just enough for it to become shiny. Put aside.

Mix together the breadcrumbs, eggs, prunes cut in small pieces, water, salt and the ground beef. Last add the fried up onions.

Fill and roast the Turkey:

Put the stuffing inside the Turkey from the throat opening. Sew it up with a steak string to keep the stuffing inside while in the oven. Tie the legs together as well.

Put an oven thermometer inside the Turkey. Place it so you easily can see the temperature rising when opening the oven.

Take some butter and salt and pepper and mix with your hands and cover the Turkey all around with it.

Place the Turkey on a cooking grill and cover the Turkey with grill foil. Place in the middle of the oven. Place a pan underneath.  Pour some water in the pan, add the lemon and orange juice into the water.

As the Turkey is on the cooking grill the juice will be dripping into the pan underneath. After one hour open the oven and remove the foil and take a large cooking spoon and take from the juice and pour over the Turkey. Put the foil back over the Turkey and close the oven. Let it roast for another 40 minutes and do the same again with pouring from the juice over the Turkey.

After two hours in the oven, remove the foil. Roast for another 40 minutes and pour juice over the Turkey again.

Put the giblets in a small pan and cover with some of the juice and put in the oven to cook.

Try with a sharp knife if the Turkey is done. If the juice coming out is pink, roast for another 30 minutes. The temperature inside the Turkey should come up to 70 degrees Celsius when it is done.

Remember the breast part will be cooked and done before the legs. So try the legs with the knife as well. If it is not done, leave it inside the oven for another 30 minutes.

The time really also depends on the weight of the Turkey. I usually think about 45 minutes per 1 kg Turkey in the oven.

When it is roasted turn the oven off and leave the Turkey to rest 30 minutes before you decorate and serve it.

It is most important that you are pouring the juice over the Turkey regularly as you roast it. This will prevent the meat from becoming dry.

The gravy:

When the Turkey is roasted you will have a lot of juice in the pan underneath and also in the pan with the giblets. Pour the juice through a sift into a cooking pan and heat on the oven and make the gravy from this. To thicken you can mix a little Potatoe starch or Tapioca starch with a little cold water (just 0,5 dl and some table spoons of the flour). Mix until dissolved and add into the juice from the Turkey. Cook to boiling point while stirring. When the gravy is as thick as you want it turn down the heat and taste. If you want more salt or pepper add. Usually it is enough taste from the juice in the pan. However this is a little after each and every one´s taste. Add a little cream into the gravy and stir.

Preparing the Brussels sprouts and carrots:

I prepare the Brussels sprouts and carrots through steaming them. Peel the carrots and cut in sticks the size you prefer. Steam to the tenderness you prefer them. This way they will be more crisp and not watery as if boiled in water, and you keep all the nutrients as well.

If you don´t have anything to steam them in, just boil them.

To make the mashed potatoes:

Peel the potatoes and cut into smaller pieces. This will lessen the time you need for them to boil. Boil the potatoes until soft. Mix them in a mixer until smooth. Add some boiled milk and butter and salt and pepper. Add milk to the thickness you like your mashed potatoes.

Serve:

Serve with Brussels sprouts, carrots and mashed potatoes.

Cut the giblets and serve on the side as well.

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