Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Turkey Tips

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~Melody Beattie

Today we are talking turkey! The first tip I have is for those watching their salt intake. Check the sodium on the frozen turkey before buying it. Some can have up to 350 mg of salt for EACH serving because of the baste injected. Some of the brands are soaked in brine. So, if you are watching your sodium check the labels. Below are more turkey tips sent in to us.

*I make a Thanksgiving check list and keep it from year to year on my computer, so I don't have to re-invent the wheel.

*I go over my list with my Daughter, and we have a special "bonding" time on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, to make our dressing. She has learned the family recipe, "Mom's Giblet Dressing" but can never get it to taste like mine, despite the fact that we are side by side working. I say, "Debi, it is in Mother's Hands"

* Cook the Turkey neck for about 2-2 1/2 hours and the meat will just fall off the bone. No struggling with trying to cut it off the neck.

* Cut up my bread for dressing the day before and leave out to dry, or leave the whole slice of bread out on a tray.

* Peel the potatoes and place in cold water in the refrigerator the day before. Makes your potatoes much nicer. Pull out when ready to cook, and change the water.

* Warm the milk and butter for the mashed potatoes ~ no lumps!

* I buy "fresh" bulk Rubbed Sage and Poultry Seasonings from the Health Food Store. I can measure out just what I need, and I pitch or freeze the rest. No using seasonings that have been saved since the last Turkey day. Be careful not to overdo when making your dressing, as they are much stronger than the bottles from the store.

What we grew up with for a Thanksgiving meal is pretty much a family tradition, and it is hard to change all the families taste buds. Memories of what they "expect" on Thanksgiving Day is the key~ You could have wonderful side dishes that were different and they would still want the "same old thing".

Slow Cooker Dressing

1 cup butter
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 cups finely chopped celery
1/4 cup minced parsley ( I don't use this as it makes it dark)
6 cups slightly dry white bread ( I use one can of 10 count cheap biscuits)
6 cups slightly dry corn bread ( I make one pan of cornbread)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoons sage
4 cups broth
2 eggs well beaten

Day before: Cook breads and chop celery and onions.

Morning of: Saute onions and bread in the butter in microwave till tender In large bowl: Mix breads, baking powder and seasonings. Pour over vegetable mixture. Pour broth over bread mixture. Add eggs and mix well. Pack lightly in a 4 quart slow cooker. (I use 3 1/2 quart and it works fine) Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 to 6 hours. To bake in oven, bake 1 hr at 350 degrees. Very moist and delicious, plus it frees up your oven. I found this recipe many years ago and will never make dressing any other way. It is wonderful. ~Treva


Many of you may have used bacon to moisten and/or season foods like meatloaf or poultry. Watching a cooking show during the holidays, where the bacon was reserved for breakfast the next day, I got an idea for a "jerky" type crust for turkey. As with herb crusts I have written about before, the benefit of making a crust on your roast is the excellent moisture retention in the meat and the flavoring provided by the crust. Here is another way to go at it, and you wind up with an edible 'jerky' or sausage meat-- a two-fer!

NOTE: When cooking a whole turkey for each 5-6 pounds of turkey you will need 1 pound of sausage/herb combination - see recipe for making your own turkey sausage**)

1 5-6 pound turkey breast or whole roasting chicken
1 pound ground turkey* (or combination of ground turkey/sausage meat)
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped herbs

(example: I used sage, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic chives, parsley,
rosemary, lavender and ginger--you can use whatever smells
and tastes good to you).

1 medium onion
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
Sprinkle of Ms. Pinch (Catherine's salt substitute blend)
1 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut onion, carrot and celery into 3/4 inch slices and arrange as a bed in the bottom of a roasting pan. Arrange turkey on top, sprinkle lightly with Ms. Pinch (or any flavorful salt-free seasoning of your choice). Meanwhile mix
herbs, salt and ground turkey together as if you were making meatballs. Pat this mixture all over the top of the turkey, making sure the layer is evenly thick all over, roughly 1/4 inch thick.

Roast at 400 for 30 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350, cooking until done and internal temperature registers 165. Remove from oven and let sit without cutting for 15 minutes. Remove 'jerky' and reserve for crumbling over salad, to use with breakfast the next morning or as a jerky-like nibble. The underside will be slightly moist and the exterior crusty, and your turkey incredibly moist and full of flavor.

Note: * They really do not sell ground meat in one pound packages any more - 1 1/4 pounds will work fine (the typical size of a '1 pound' package these days).


1 Pound Lean Ground Turkey
1/4 C. Shredded Apple***
1 Tablespoon Apple Sauce***
1/4 Teaspoon Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
3/4 Teaspoon Fresh Marjoram
3/4 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano
1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Basil
1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Sage
1/8 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
(or, half Teaspoon Fresh Garlic)
1/8 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Ginger
(or, half Teaspoon Fresh Grated Ginger)

Mix all together well. Let set in refrigerator for a couple of hours for flavors to meld. Freeze or use right away.

Note: The apple sauce and apple replace the fat in the lean meat.

Thanksgiving Traditions: Nine great ideas for families!


  1. Your Thanksgiving turkey tips are just great…. Will follow your recipe while cooking turkey this year.

  2. Your Thanksgiving turkey tips are just great…. Will follow your recipe while cooking turkey this year.


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