…to the Drunk Uncle’s House we go.
It’s that time of year again. Seems like it was just last year…
Occasionally I like to share certain things allowing a brief glimpse into my exceptionally average life. This year it will be the formula for my Turkey… which is my responsibility. I’m not complaining, it allows me to support some sense of sanity.
(Note: I have no issue killing Turkey’s. It’s the heinous acts perpetrated upon them after they’re dead that I’m trying to stop. You people are sick.)
So Easy it Should be Illegal Turkey, Stuffing and Gravy.
Start gathering the below crap together FIRST…
Day before ingredients:
2 cups Salt
½ cup Sugar
Thing to put Turkey in overnight:
(1) Large portable, sealable container
Day of Turkey ingredients:
(1) 12-15 pound Turkey w/giblets
BIG Roasting Pan – the Aluminum throw away ones are fine. You typically get 3 to a pack… so you can make hats out of the other two. Perfect!
3 – 12oz. cans Chicken Stock, or bullion, or make your own from the chicken in your neighbor’s yard. I’ve done all three and other than time… effort… and years of lying about what happened to the chickens, it’s all about the same.
1-stick butter (soft)
½ cup O.J.
2-medium onions or 4 large shallots chopped
2-cups chopped Celery
Day of Gravy ingredients:
2-shot’s Dry Sherry
1-pint whipping/heavy cream (optional)
2-tablespoon’s Corn Starch or a “cold rue” which is just equal parts butter and flour mashed together until you get a paste. I find the rue easier to use.
1-teaspoon Ground Paprika deepens the flavor and helps make the gravy yellow.
Day of Stuffing ingredients:
2-bags Pepperidge Farms Stuffing (Any variety… I like Country) I know it’s cheating… and? (If you want to dry out your own bread, OK. Cube it and dust it with garlic salt and Sage/Thyme/Rosemary then bake till hard, dry and slightly brown.) By the time you’re done with the above cubing, dusting, and baking you could have bought the bags, spent less money and time with nobody being any wiser. There’s plenty of work ahead for everybody to be impressed.
Gather all of this stuff around you within easy reach FIRST. It will go much faster and you’ll remember everything when you need to remember it.
Day before instructions:
Step 1. Pour 2 cups Salt and ½ cup Sugar into the container. Add water to dissolve.
Step 2. Place thawed Turkey (with giblets still in the neck cavity) into the container.
Step 3. Cover with water completely and seal/close the container. (Yes, I know it floats.)
Step 4. Place the container outside, if not below freezing, overnight. If it’s freezing, then put it in the garage. The object is to keep the Turkey COLD so nobody dies… there is no point in killing anybody, at least on Thanksgiving. Don’t worry too much, I’ve done this for 20 years and never killed anybody, yet… on Thanksgiving… day… before 5pm… except that once…
Day of Turkey Instructions:
Step 1. Remove all but a lower rack in Oven. Pre-heat to 250 degrees.
Step 2. Remove Turkey from container and drain well. Remove giblets (That’s all the gut’s stuffed inside which they have helpfully enclosed in a blood-soaked bag.) and put into a pot on the stove. (We’ll come back to them) Pat dry the turkey with paper towels. This will make it crisp. I’ve seen people use a hair-dryer… if you’re so inclined. If you choose to do this, adopt a 1000-yard stare, and don’t explain it to anybody. It makes Thanksgiving so much more fun when they think you’re insane.
Step 3. In large Roasting Pan add onion, then celery, and place carrots at an angle lengthwise in the pan. (i.e./////) Turkey will sit on them keeping Turkey off the bottom of the pan. OR, just buy a roasting rack. But that costs money and all of this was designed to just throw it away when you’re done. Your choice.
Step 4. Add 3 cans of Chicken Stock to the pan.
Step 5. Place Turkey in pan on top of carrots.
Step 6. Insert/shove/massage apple slices and herb sprigs (saving a sprig of each for gravy) into Turkey cavities front and back, tie legs together with string. (The TURKEY LEGS… seriously… I worry about you people. Sometimes I think you’re being funny, other times not so much.) Now for the gourmet secret; I like bacon wrapped around the wing and leg tips to keep them from burning or browning too much. This is easier than using a string that is difficult to tie and leaves marks on your bird. USE THE STRING ON THE LEGS, but then take strips of bacon and wrap it around the tips of the wing and lay directly on top of the legs. You’ll amaze your in-laws by being sooooo smart.
Step 7. Mix butter and O.J. together in a bowl. Wash your hands. (You probably should have done this earlier… but I know how you are.) Now apply the mixture to Turkey with your fingers. It should be gooey/messy but I haven’t found a better way yet. Rub it all over Turkey. It’s very therapeutic, and you know you’re done when the other people in the kitchen begin to feel a bit uncomfortable. It shouldn’t take but a couple of minutes. I like a little extra salt and pepper on the outside too, but it’s up to you.
Step 8. Place it all into a preheated oven. Set a timer for 1 hour for each 3-1/2 pounds of bird. Remember, this isn’t your mother’s bird. We are NOT taking all this time to burn the crap out of it or dehydrate it for future generations. There is NO stuffing on the inside, thus it will cook faster at lower temperatures than usual. If anyone tries to argue with you, stab them. (Be careful not to kill them… refer to Day Before; step #4)
Step 9. Baste this thing about every 30 minutes until the last 2 hours and while you’re in there make sure the fluid level is OK. Then, LEAVE IT ALONE. This will make it crispy. I did say leave it alone, didn’t I?
Step 10. Remove Bird and transfer to Turkey plate (the giant plate with fancy crap on it that is located in the very back of your cupboard because you haven’t used it in years… if ever. Typically a gift from much older relatives given to you when you got married with the idea that you would be possessed by Norman Rockwell and don the June Cleaver pumps and pearls. (That goes for the guys too, you know who you are.)) Remove any bits of bacon and toss back into pan. Just kind of gaze upon the bird… gently/lovingly. If you act this way the in-laws will either think you’re “in the zone” or dipping into the sherry and pain killers. Either way they will leave you alone, which can be nice during the Holidays.
Day of Gravy instructions:
Step 1. Add water to giblets (guts) sitting on the stove. Turn on to medium heat at the same time you put Turkey in the oven and bring to a boil. You will have to periodically add water, as you are boiling these things to death. That’s the point, we are making stock for gravy. Boil, boil, boil.
Step 2. Add leftover sprigs to the pot.
Step 3. Add crushed or chopped Garlic.
Step 4. Add Dry Sherry. If you have purchased a bottle for this occasion, we’ll use relatively little of it. So go ahead and have a shot… that’s right… from the bottle. It’s OK, nobody’s looking! They do it at home too, go ahead… OK, that’s enough, put it down. PUT IT DOWN.
Step 5. I like to add my salt here, to taste, so I don’t have to worry about it later. It also saves lives… as I don’t have to hear anybody bitch about how much salt I choose to use or not use, and then be forced to challenge Day Before; step #4.
Step 6. Time the boiling process for it. It should be reduced to about half of the pot when Turkey has 30-minutes left. When the timer hits 30 minutes left on the Oven, strain the liquid and giblets (guts) from the stock. Again, set the giblets (guts) aside to cool, as you will use these for their “meat” and put it back into the gravy.
Step 7. Put the liquid back on to boil.. Allow to simmer until it just barely starts to taste right.
Step 8. Add Paprika and stir. It should turn yellow… right? (No? Throw everything away. Just kidding… it will turn yellow.. er.)
Step 9. Dissolve cornstarch well in 1/4 cup of very cold water. Pour quickly into lightly boiling liquid. Bring back to a boil. The gravy should begin to thicken immediately with NO LUMPS. Follow my directions and NO LUMPS. If you’re using the “cold rue” then stir it in gradually with a whisk. (If you have a hand blender then screw it and dump it all in, just blend it in the pot till smooth. Then have a shot of sherry celebrating your ingenuity.)
Step 10. If satisfied with texture (if not, you can add a little more cornstarch or rue, but don’t overdo it) and the flavor, turn it to low and check occasionally. It’s ready to serve.
Step 11. (Optional) I like to peel the meat from the neck bone and chop up the giblets very small then put back into the gravy. It adds a great flavor as well as texture and improves the appearance. It’s up to you, but I recommend it.
Step 12. (Optional) If you find the relatives wanting to “share the spirit of the season” with you troubling… you may want to consider hurling the now empty Dry Sherry bottle through the closest window in a brief but explosive fit of inexplicable rage. Nothing says “Happy Thanksgiving” like the jolly sound of a loud, lone, angry voice and the merry tinkle of shattering glass. If this hits too close to home, feel free to ad-lib, just don’t mess up the food.
Day of Stuffing instructions:
Step 1. Locate all the good stuff in the now still warm, but Turkey-less roasting pan. Remove carrots and chop. Yes, I know they’re hot, if you can’t stand the heat get out of… I can’t remember how this quote goes but I think it ends with Sherry. Throw chopped carrots back into pan.
Step 2. Open packages of stuffing bread and throw (THE BREAD, NOT THE BAGS) into pan. STIR WELL ONCE! Cover with foil and leave it alone. If you fiddle with it, it will turn to mush.
I SAID NO FIDDLING. It will be ready to stir again in five minutes and serve in about 10 minutes. (I like to add an entire stick of butter and allowing it to melt prior to throwing in the bags of bread, but it’s your call.)
Well all right then… you’re finished!
Serve it up however you would like. I no longer care.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! or, whatever…
IF IT’S STILL IN YOUR HAND, PUT THE SHERRY DOWN AND GO TALK TO THE RELATIVES, or open another bottle of Sherry and don’t talk to the relatives. Either way is a path to something unhealthy.
We could go over potatoes but everybody has their own way of doing it and they all equally suck.
Cheers! – Mike