Monday, November 22, 2004

MOTHER'S COOKING SCHOOL- THE TURKEY

As we approach this Holiday Feast of ours, in Thankfulness to our God, Creator or whatever fates one might think brought us to thrive on these shores, consider the turkey.   Such succulent delight, infused with the memories of all of the Thanksgivings before. It is this very creature, this gift of nature that the esteemed Benjaminn Franklin dubbed, "a bird of courage", which rests in such beauty in his eternal slumber upon our boards. So, remember, do not fear the Turkey...It cannot hurt you (anymore).

HOW TO BUY A TURKEY

If you have never bought a turkey before, there are a few things to consider:
-How many servings do you need?
-Where are you going to cook it, is your oven big enough?
-How soon do you need it, and where are you going to store it before cooking?  (This may make the difference between choosing a fresh or frozen bird, because it can take days to defrost a large one!)
-What can you afford? (Once you have established your needs, you may have a choice between the more expensive "name-brand" or less-expensive "store brand" turkey. A "free-range" turkey may even be an option in your area, at considerably more cost.)

Here is a link to the Butterball Turkey web site (in English or Spanish) which offers information to make it easier to figure out how much bird to get(it is a "turkey and stuffing calculator), general cooking tips, and recipes. They even have a "turkey talkline" (at 1.800.BUTTERBALL, 8 am- 8 pm Central time, 8-6 on Thanksgiving!) where you can get bilingual "live help".

Do make sure you appreciate how large your oven actually is, or is not. If you have a huge bird, that is all that will fit in your oven at one time, so organize your cooking appropriately.  If you are referring to this for Thanksgiving, know that you will need to get a frozen turkey completely thawed before you cook it!  This means, either (in a pan) in the fridge, or breast side up in constantly running cool water (maybe in the sink or a pot in the sink if it will fit.) Change the water in the pot or sink often.  DO NOT JUST LEAVE THE FROZEN TURKEY OUT TO THAW, because then, you would very much need to fear the turkey. The worst part of thawing out the turkey is getting the inside done. I have had success filling the cavity with running warm water to finish the thawing process right before cooking - but do not just leave it to soak..Raw turkey goes bad very quickly. One of the beauties of the "fresh" (never frozen) bird is skipping the whole thawing process.

Through the years, my final determinate in bird selection ,(if I have a choice of brands), has been price. This said, sometimes the "name brand" has been the one on sale. Many may disagree with me, but I have not found there to be that much discernible difference in the final product placed on the table when I choose the "off brand" turkey - and I firmly believe that it is because of the method with which I choose to cook it (in foil).

I started cooking my turkey wrapped in foil almost from the beginning, because I had made a terrible error in organizing my cooking- and was coming up short on time. Lo and behold, my trusty old red Betty Crocker's Cookbook told me that if I cooked my bird wrapped in foil, it would come out moist and juicy, in considerably less time! I have never been disappointed in a turkey I have cooked ever since, and the method has cut literally hours off the cooking time! I am providing you with the link to the Reynolds Kitchens "recipe" for cooking a turkey in foil-they provide the time/size charts too. If you do not think that is the way you want to go, go back to Butterball's comprehensive site for a "regular" roasting "recipe",and this page offers all kinds of tips useful to anyone serving up a turkey dinner, including "how to videos"!

So, do your homework, and tomorrow we will talk about the rest of the meal!

1 Comments:

At October 6, 2006 at 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU FOR BEING THERE!!! I couldn't get a hold of muy mom and am cooking a Turkey today for my husband. You are the best and love your site even tho I am a Canadian I appreciate how the good ol US of A kmnows how to celbrate Thanksgiving!
:)
T

 

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