Roasting a Turkey

Whole roasted turkey

Are you nervous about cooking a whole turkey? It’s OK, I was too, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s really very easy! Honestly, I don’t know what all the fuss is about cooking turkey for Thanksgiving. If you want an easy and quick way to cook a medium-sized turkey, this is a great method:

Ingredients:

1 whole turkey, defrosted (13-15 pounds)

2 cups of chicken broth or 2 cups water plus 2 tsp Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

1 lemon, cut in half

1 head of garlic, top cut off to expose all the cloves

3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

salt & pepper

olive oil

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400°F
  2. Remove the turkey from the package. Remove bag containing neck and organ meats. If making gravy, place them in a small pot and cover with water, set to a low simmer. Directions for gravy at the end of this post.
  3. Rinse turkey and allow to drain a few minutes. Place turkey breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan with rack.
  4. Place cut lemon, garlic and rosemary inside the cavity of the turkey.
  5. Drizzle turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. It is not necessary to truss (tie up) the legs.
  6. Add chicken broth or water to the bottom of the roasting pan.
  7. Place turkey in the oven on a rack that allows equal space above and below the bird.
  8. Cook for 2-2½ hours. After 1 hour pour some of the liquid from the pan over the breast and legs with a baster or a ladle. Check turkey at two hours, if the skin is brown enough but the meat is not up to temperature, cover the turkey with foil to prevent the skin from burning.
  9. Use a meat thermometer to check for proper temperature of 180° in the thickest part of the thigh meat and at least 165° in the thickest part of the breast – be sure you are not touching the bone at either point or you may get a false reading.
  10. Remove turkey from roasting pan and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving. Reserve liquid from roasting pan for gravy if desired, see below.

 

Directions for Homemade Gravy

  1. Simmer the neck and organ meats in a small pot  with water and 1 tsp of chicken bullion paste or one cube of bouillon while the turkey roasts in the oven.
  2. While turkey is resting, place roasting pan drippings into a gravy separator, or a tall narrow vessel (measuring cup or pint drinking glass) and  skim off as much of the excess fat as possible. Some will be olive oil from rubbing the turkey, so don’t worry too much!
  3. After excess fat has been removed, pour pan drippings into a medium skillet over medium heat.
  4. Remove turkey neck that has been simmering and shred the meat, add to skillet. Discard organ meats.
  5. Mix 2 TBSP of cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water until well blended, add half to the drippings to start with and allow to simmer until it begins to thicken. Add additional cornstarch mix to thicken further if desired.
  6. Season to taste with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. I used about 1/2 tsp each.

Persimmon Cookies

These are perfect fall/winter cookies. They have a lovely spice flavor and beautiful with flecks of orange persimmon pulp running through them.

This is the beautiful persimmon cookie dough. It's more like cake batter!

This is the beautiful persimmon cookie dough. It’s more like cake batter!

Ready to bake. Look at that chunk of persimmon pulp!

Ready to bake. Look at that chunk of persimmon pulp!

 

plate of persimmon cookies

These were disappearing off the cooling rack as quickly as I could get them out of the oven. A big hit with my husband and kids.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

Pulp from 2 ripe persimmons (about a cup)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare cookie sheets by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In medium bowl mix dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer blend shortening and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  4. Gradually mix in dry ingredients until combined.
  5. Add raisins and nuts, mix until combined.
  6. Drop cookie dough onto greased sheets using a small to medium scoop.
  7. Bake for 25-20 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Tips:

  • Use very ripe Hachiya persimmons (the heart-shaped kind, not the flat type). Carefully peel off the skin and remove the calyx (the stem). Don’t worry about the very tiny seeds in the pulp, they are edible.
  • Greasing the cookie sheets is recommended to ensure the cookies come off easily.
  • You can make bigger cookies using a big scoop, but increase cooking time to 25 minutes. It may also be necessary to reduce oven temperature to 325°.

 

Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli casserole is a great addition to your holiday meals or a unique potluck dish. This recipe is based on a dish my mother-in-law makes. It’s a nice change from the ordinary green bean casserole for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Don’t be frightened when you see the ingredients–canned cheese is for more than just snack crackers! I was skeptical as first too, but it tastes delicious.

Ingredients:

1 cube of butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 box seasoned croutons

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 ½ – 2 pounds broccoli florets

1 can Easy Cheese, American or Cheddar flavor

 

Directions:

  1.  In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter and add chopped onions. Cook until onions become translucent.
  2. Add the croutons and cook until most of the butter is absorbed. The croutons will brown a little.
  3. Add broccoli and cover. Cook for a few minutes, just to soften broccoli slightly. Remove from heat.
  4. In a 9×13″ casserole dish begin by spreading a thin layer of soup in the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add broccoli mixture. Dollop on more soup. Spray on Easy Cheese in an even layer. Repeat.
  6. When finished, press down into pan gently.
  7. Cook at 350° for one hour or until casserole is bubbly and heated through in center. Or, if making ahead cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Cook the following day at 350° for up to two hours, or until heated through.

Step By Step Photos

 

Melt butter, saute onion and croutons.

 

Add broccoli, cook slightly.

 

Layer broccoli, soup, cheese. Repeat.

 

Cook until bubbly and center is heated through.

 

Thanksgiving Inspiration

The latest issue of Real Simple magazine arrived in my mailbox last week. The November and December issues are always wonderful; filled with beautiful photos and ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I’ve been drooling over the recipes in the November issue. It includes recipes, a shopping list and timeline for a Thanksgiving feast that is mostly made ahead. A great option to take the stress out of marathon cooking on the big day.  I’m particularly interested in the recipe for a cranberry hazelnut quick bread, and will give it a try once I figure out where to purchase whole hazelnuts.

If you are looking for a little Thanksgiving inspiration pick one up.  Even if you never make one recipe, the journey through the magazine will get you ready for some great Thanksgiving cooking!

They also have a vast website with recipes, cleaning tips, money tips and fashion.  A lot of the content is free, and subscribers to the magazine can access the recipe archive and more.  I’ve given this magazine as a subscription gift a few times and it was welcomed.