Talking Turkey (and other treats)

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December is here! 

It comes every time this year, but it still surprises me.  I live in Florida, so I'm a shorts/flip-flop girl year round.  I hung clothes out in the sunshine just yesterday.   And scarfed down two fat, juicy navel oranges.  Snow shovels and mittens just aren't on my radar.

We have to manufacture Christmas down here.  A couple of things that help Floridans get in the mood are blinking house lights and blow-up yard displays.  One neighbor has a blow-up Santa holding a shot gun peering from a look-out tower.  A reindeer is cowering behind a bush.   That's how we do it in the South.

I learned a couple of tricks this Thanksgiving.  The first one, thanks to Trisha Yearwood, is how to roast a perfect bird (her method was in the Sunday paper.)  It's so easy - and nontraditional - you won't believe it.   I tweaked a few things, and, I'm telling ya', we are never having dry turkey again.  Here's the recipe; it's very short:

For a 12-pounder, stuff the cleaned bird with an apple, an onion, a stalk of celery, and an orange, all cut in chunks.  Place the bird breast side down in a roasting pan with a lid.  It will lean to one side - that's OK.  Add 2 cups of boiling water to the pan, and put the lid on.  Place the pan in a 500 degree oven for one hour.  After the hour, turn the oven off and go to bed.  Really.  

That's it.  In the morning, the turkey is done, still warm, and delicious.  No watching, or basting.  No turkey hogging the oven when you later need it for the sweet potatoes, stuffing, and whatever else you're baking. 

I cooked a 7-pound turkey breast this year, put the bird in about midnight, did not check it until 8 a.m.  The meat fell off the bone.  It was the most tender turkey we have ever had, fork tender.  No knives needed.

Placing the bird breast side down enables all the juices to drain into the bulk of the meat.  Covering the bird and adding water allows the meat to steam.  If you want the golden-skinned Norman Rockwell bird that you present at your holiday table, you might not care for this method, as the turkey skin stays soft and unbrowned. 

We didn't care.  The moist meat was worth it.  (I always slice the meat off the carcass for the table anyway.  If that's the method you use, you will love this.)  The flavorful water/juice remaining in the pan is the base for your gravy.   This method makes such good sense to me, I don't know why, for generations, women have been roasting turkeys breast side up with no fluid and no cover.  That's a recipe for dry meat. 

I discovered another trick while wondering how to use up leftover mashed potatoes and stuffing.  I came up with this.   

I stirred the potatoes and stuffing together, added some Parmesan cheese, and rolled the mixture into balls that fit nicely into a muffin tin.  I baked them for ten minutes until warmed though, then added a slice of cheese and some leftover spinach dip (Ranch dressing would be great too.) 

Viola!  A fancy, tasty new twist on "stuffed potatoes."   I guess you could throw the green bean casserole in there too.

Here's another thing I threw together.  

Our daughter makes the best whole wheat bread.  We usually have rolls, but this year, she was out when the dough was ready to shape.  I didn't want to spend time rolling balls, so I hastily made three uneven snakes and braided them together.  The misshapen log looked small and goofy on the cookie sheet, but it puffed up beautifully.   Sometimes I just get lucky. 

My last item is from Pinterest.  I saw these cutie-patooties and had to try them.

Keebler's Fudge Stripe cookies, peanut-butter cups, and frosting (canned or homemade.)  You just assemble them.  The cups are stuck to the cookies with a glob of frosting.  Tint the last of the frosting yellow, and pipe a "buckle" onto the front with a fine tip.   Miles Standish would be proud. 

I wanted to share a few holiday cooking discoveries, because in four weeks, we get to do it all again.   You might want an ugly, but succulent turkey, a stuffed potato muffin, or a bread braid.  The Ballpark aims to please.




Chatty Crone said...

I am celebrating Christmas every day from here on out - and I loved what you did. Love Pinterest too. sandie

Mari said...

Yum! You have all sorts of great ideas!

Rita said...

You really are the cook and baker!! Everything looks scrumptious! That is a method I have never heard of for cooking a turkey. Love the hats!! :)

Dana said...

Those potatoes look delicious! I need to try that.

renae said...

Mare! hi! hello! i have missed you! but looks like you have been a busy cook and baker and creator. oh my goodness.

Did you fix your email spam mess? just wondering.

#1 pilgrim hats = darling.
#2 my turkey was divine this year. deep fried with a cajun spice injection! Oh i didn't do it, but my chef son-in-law did. It was YUMMMMMMMMMMM.

Michael Ann said...

Yum! The turkey method you used makes total sense. My only question. If the turkey is done in the morning, what time did you eat dinner and how did you keep the turkey warm and not getting dry until then?

Tamera Brose said...

I learned about putting the bird in breast side down many years ago. We use the Reynold's roasting bag. We always have moist meat. Like you say, it isn't the golden bird you see in pictures, but it tastes way better and is much easier. Thanks for all the ideas.

Jerralea said...

Mare, thank you for sharing your creative genius with us. I'm going to try some of your ideas for Christmas. Hope I remember the pilgrim hat idea next Thanksgiving.

Cindy Dwyer said...

Glad you enjoyed your meal. Hat's off to your delicious creations. :)

Although the Northeast gets a little cold sometimes, I don't know how I'd feel about Christmas in flip-flops!

Karen Lange said...

Suddenly I am hungry...:) Thanks for sharing all these tips and goodies! I will have to try that turkey method sometime. I saw a program years ago where Emeril said to slice a few apples and place them in the turkey for moist and tender results. I've done this every year since and the turkey always turns out great. I also need to try the stuffing/mashed potato recipe. It looks delicious!

Have a great weekend,

Kenya G. Johnson said...

Mare I have NEVER prepared or handled a Turkey in my life. Now I am totally intimated by one. You make yours sound easy peesy! Maybe I'll take on the challenge of a 7lber. That looks delish. If you want to know WHY I haven't ever made a Turkey, I grew up a vegetarian. I did start with poultry and seafood later. When I met my husband I didn't really know how to cook meat and my first meal for him was a disaster. So even though I do better now, I don't get handle anything important as a Thanksgiving turkey ;-)

Brenda said...

We did a similar thing with the stuffing/potato idea only made patties and cooked them in a lightly coated skillet. I like your idea better!
I love this time of year!

Danielle L Zecher said...

I love the stuffing potato muffin idea! I'm ready to make stuffing and mashed potatoes just so I can try that. I've never understood why people make dry turkeys either. My family has always insisted on stuffing them with some sort of vegetables and/or fruits and involving some kind of liquid.

I'm very envious of your weather. I don't think I'll get to hang clothes out again until the spring.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

My grandmother always topped her stuffing with olives too. Everything looks great!

Anonymous said...

Mmm... I'm hungry all over again!

We didn't have enough turkey leftover (we hosted, but someone else cooked the turkey), so I wanted to get a small bird just for our family. I think I'll try this method and see what happens! By the way, that's exactly how my husband stuffs the bird. So yummy!


momto8 said...

thank you for these ideas! I am getting smarter and smarter just by reading blogs.