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woodburner

Bygone Thanksgivings

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As a young child, I recall my mother waking at 6 am Thanksgiving morning, to cook the turkey for a minimum of 6 hours it seemed. Somehow after we all ate, a victory was always proclaimed for such a great meal.

What were they thinking.

Why is it that generation thought roasting meant, overcooked, dry, stringy turkey?

Any stories?

woodburner

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You must be one of my long-lost siblings, woodburner! :laugh:

That indescribable sawdust texture lent a certain je ne sais quoi .. and required vats of gravy to wash it down :shock: .. this precedes the popular Heimlich Maneuvre ..


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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That's just turkey.

Horrid.

No excuse,


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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That's just turkey.

Horrid.

No excuse,

I would charge the cook with Murder Most Fowl ... :raz:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Well Gifted Gourmet, we may not be siblings but we were certainly neighbors. I think your kitchen lights were always on Thanksgiving morning when we started our Turkey. :wink:

Yeah, when they turkey was sliced, or maybe I mean shreded, I think back now and think, WTF??

Possibly we should have been eating Turkey taco's. :angry:

Uugh.

woodburner

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which is why, woodburner, God gave us mayonnaise! :hmmm:

shredded turkey with mayo .. ahhh, the memories ... :laugh:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I dunno... My mom made a pretty mean roasted turkey, for a turkey that is. She always did it in an oiled brown paper bag. It was ok. I was never a fan of turkey, but I don't remember anything but a relatively juicy turkey, but a turkey nonetheless. The Thanksgiving that we all want to forget was sometime in the late 60s when she got into this Weight Watchers thing. The whole dinner was done on those principals. There was a family mutiny. She never tried THAT again.

We haven't done a baked turkey in many years... Smoked or fried, yes. Most often we have opted for pork or venison.

edit to add: That is not entirely true. We did do a tamale stuffed turkey one year with tamales lining the bottom of the baking pan to absorb the juices. That was pretty good.


Edited by fifi (log)

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I actually like Turkey, at least on thanksgiving. I don't much care for it in deli-meat form, or in 'turkey chili' or other situations where it is subbed for beef, but a whole roasted bird with good gravey and the right sides is downright tasty, I think it has more flavor than chicken at least.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I don't know what you mean, "bygones", I'll be sitting down to just such a turkey at my mother-in-law's house this Thanksgiving. :rolleyes: Of course, when we had Thanksgiving at my house a couple years ago, the white meat was okay but the dark meat was terribly undercooked, so I guess I can't complain. :wink:


"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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I don't know what you mean, "bygones", I'll be sitting down to just such a turkey at my mother-in-law's house this Thanksgiving.  :rolleyes:  Of course, when we had Thanksgiving at my house a couple years ago, the white meat was okay but the dark meat was terribly undercooked, so I guess I can't complain.  :wink:

Showing age here, I conclude that in the era of 1960-1965 or so, there was a horrid urge to cook fowl for many hours, I suppose to kill purported bacteria.

Things have changed much for the better in the past 30 years.

woodburner

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That's just turkey.

Horrid.

No excuse,

Its not if you prepare turkey properly. Turkey can be a great, provided that the moisture in the meat is maintained and that ample amounts of fat, such as bacon (try "roasting" your turkey this year on your outdoor grill with a whole package of bacon shoved under the skin and onto the breast meat) and herbs are used to enhance the flavor.

Turkey is by far one of my most favorite of birds, even more than chicken. Its an incredibly versatile protein.

My best turkey experience by far was at the late Verbena Restaurant in NYC, run by husband and wife team Diane Forley and Micheal Otsuka. They had a roasted turkey breast dish there that was fantastic -- if I recall, it had entire twigs of Sage skewered through it so that they would release their essential oils through cooking and it also was seasoned with lemon:

Sage and Lemon Studded Turkey Steak (22.50) and a special of Lamb Beggar's Purse (27.00) were our mains. We both felt the turkey was exceptional. You hardly ever see turkey on menus except in November, this was an attempt to make a real, new-American cuisine dish out of a seldom used ingredient. The turkey breast was larded with sage and lemon peel and came out thickly sliced and very tender. This was served atop spinach and mushrooms with pancetta lending additional flavor. Really, a lovely dish.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Turkey is by far one of my most favorite of birds, even more than chicken. Its an incredibly versatile protein.

I am now convinced that you are a sick puppy. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

It is only good insofar as how you can cover it up. :laugh:

A disclaimer here... I have to say that I am mad at turkey. Every trick I have tried over the last several years to impart taste and seasoning to that incalcitrant bird have evaded my efforts. I have done brining (works for smoked), basting, stuffing, making slits in the skin and from the inside and stuffing in stuff... the damn bird is impervious to flavor. The best success was the tamales in the bottom of the baking pan under that tamale stuffed bird. I suspect that the goodness came from the lard in the tamale stuffing. :raz:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I would really rather avoid Thanksgiving dinner. I leave every thanksgiving for a weekend away with old college buds (to a posh resort in northern MN), but my family objects to me not sharing this meal with them.

So, thanks to all for exciting me so much for the ritual. The dried out turkey, the gravy thickened with raw flour. The green bean casserole. That's how they do in in at my in-laws. Put the way too big turkey in way too late, and then all exclaim over how wonderful the strings are.

I'm brining appetizers this year, and am bringing summer rolls and larb. At least I won't leave hungry this year.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I would really rather avoid Thanksgiving dinner.  I leave every thanksgiving for a weekend away with old college buds (to a posh resort in northern MN), but my family objects to me not sharing this meal with them.

So, thanks to all for exciting me so much for the ritual.  The dried out turkey, the gravy thickened with raw flour.  The green bean casserole.  That's how they do in in at my in-laws.  Put the way too big turkey in way too late, and then all exclaim over how wonderful the strings are.

I'm brining appetizers this year, and am bringing summer rolls and larb.  At least I won't leave hungry this year.

This year for me is exciting.

It's normally, thanks to my wife, tradtional, with family. But I'm taking an extra step, even though small, cooking for a not so fortunate co-worker.

My ever so giving boss and friend, (thankfully) offers locally farm raised turkey's to all employees, as a Thanksgiving gift. (about 50).

I'll be custom smoking a 13lb bird for him to enjoy as he see's fit, only because he is not a fortunate to have such a giving and caring close family. I'll cook the bird, supply all the trimmings, vaccuum pack the balance and let him enjoy his holiday, and the day's to come as he see's fit.

It's just a small gift, to a friend that may mean so much.

Back on topic, hopefully this will be one of his most memorable Turkey's ever.

woodburner

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I am now convinced that you are a sick puppy.  :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:

You just suddenly figured this out, after what, nearly 2 years? It didn't dawn on you before that anyone that would willingly start a food discussion website was, well, a bit screwed up? :laugh:


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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call me old fashioned my friends but i do love my turkey on Thanksgiving and it is and i suspect will always be made with all the traditional sides i.e. dressing,cranberry sauce,creamed onions,fresh asparagus,deviled eggs,pickled eggs,stuffed celery, and good pan gravy

Dave s


"Food is our common ground,a universal experience"

James Beard

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i'm with you on this one jason and phifly; turkey is muy groovy gravy, baby... fortunately my mother is an amazing cook, so i was never subjected to the ravages described above... two years ago, however, i had thanksgiving dinner with my girlfriend's chicago aunt, and was severely disappointed, to say the least...30 lbs of browns chicked thighs, drums and bone-in breasts (fried, and chicken, not turkey) along with storebought coleslaw, macaroni salad, instant mashed, etc. (see the I was FLOORED... string for more discourse on this matter) i cried, almost, on the metra train back to the city the next day...

however, her family redeemed itself in my eyes last year; i ate thanksgiving dinner in cashmere, WA (outside seattle) with about 35 of her relatives...we had 5 turkeys; 1 smoked (yum yum!!!), 1 deep-fried whole, 1 rotisseried, and 2 oven-roasted. 12 pies for dessert. all the aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws outdid each other bringing sides.

in a similarly culinary vein, i felt like a piece of meat as i was introduced to almost all of them for the first time :wacko:

edited for repetition :shock:


Edited by mike_r (log)

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Turkey is fine, but I prefer the taste of chicken and all other chicken-like birds (capon, Cornish hen, guinea hen, etc.). My parents feel the same way. I think the chances are about 90% that we'll have chicken for Thanksgiving if we're doing our own (which I think we are). Possibly, if, as there's some likelihood of, we invite one family of cousins, we'll get a capon or make two chickens.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I don't mind turkey, but I don't really like it per se. I do however like turkey skin quite a lot--I gorged myself on it this summer when I roasted about 15 whole turkey breasts for a festival I was catering.

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Turkey is okay, although I like chicken much better. But as to those bygone Thanksgivings -- it's true that my mother roasted the bird seemingly forever, and in our family vegetables came out of a can (and we celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday, no less). But the truth is -- I do not remember a "bad" Thanksgiving. We always enjoyed it, I guess because it was something different. I look back at it now and it can make me shudder, but I don't recall doing any shuddering when I was a kid.

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I learned to cook turkey, goose, capon, etc., 50-some years ago and I am still fixing it the same way.

It requires a very heavy roasting pan with a tight fitting lid - thus the giant Magnalite roasters (and their smaller siblings) that take up so much space in my storeroom.

In fact this is the only way I know how to prepare an extra large turkey (30 pounds and up) without having to start in the middle of the night. It also insures that dressing inside the turkey, should one wish to do it this way, comes up to temp early without too much time spent in the "danger zone."

It starts out on top of the stove over two burners, turkey on a rack and with enough stock in the bottom of the pan so that one quickly gets a good bit of steam in the roaster, thus the tight-fitting lid.

The last big one I did was a 33-pounder and if roasted the normal way it would take 11 hours, figuring the traditional 20 minutes per pound.

My way took 5 1/2 hours. 4 3/4 hours on top of the stove and the last 45 minutes uncovered in the oven to brown.

All the meat, including the breast meat, is moist and tender and it is done all the way through.

I cook by temp, not by time.

I always stick a couple of meat thermometers in a bird this size and near the end of cooking time check on the internal temp periodically. Using these is easier for me than using the instant read thermometers as it only takes a couple of seconds to lift off the lid, check the temps and replace the cover. Even the most rapid "instant-read" thermometers take more time.

Most stores offer a "free" bird, or greatly discounted one depending on how much other stuff you buy so give it a try with one of these loss leader items and see what you think.

If you don't have a heavy-bottom roaster that you can use directly on a burner, you can use them with heat diffusers.

However, ebay often has the Magnalite roasters, usually the medium-sized ones, the 4267

but occasionally a 4269 will show up.

They are again available new but the price is fairly high. See it here.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Well, my MIL must still be in a timewarp LOL. She is still producing dry stringy turkeys. I am not a huge fan of turkey. I much prefer the taste of chicken(except when MIL cooks it then it's just as dry as the turkey LOL).

I still remember the first year my mother(who was a good cook) cooked a butterball. My brothers raved for YEARS how great that turkey was. Although she bought other butterballs, that first one was the best.

I'm in Canada so I've already had my stringy, dry turkey this year. Enjoy your turkey day-it has to be better than mine was.

Sandra

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I love a good turkey, once a year. Enjoy it for all it's bennefits -- like that great carcass to use for stock. Never have roasted a turkey that was dried out and stringy. I do internal basting with needle pointed bulb baster, herbs . . . but honestly, Andie I love the idea of your method. If I can snatch up a Magnalite roaster may have to try that this year. :biggrin:


Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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With Turkey vs. Chicken, I find that Turkey tastes much better when roasted, the meat just has more flavor than chicken meat. For smoked meat I will also give Turkey the edge, smoked turkey legs from the smoker guy at the farmers market are a great treat.

When it comes to fried, chopped in a chili, curried, or almost any other culinary treatment I prefer chicken all the way however.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I do love turkey. Roasted, smoked, fried...any way. Smoked turkey legs!! My Basset Hound daughter Lucy Belle would share with me--one of my fondest memories of her. I am determined this year to cook a turkey in the ground, with DH helping me, as well as my traditional table bird.

The turkey in the ground method is the most tender and moist method I know of. It takes about 1 to 1 1/2 days all told, if you are not prepared with the hole dug ahead of time. But we are supposed to dig the hole and lay up the supplies this Sunday.....oh my goodness....I think this Thanksgiving will be fun, for a welcome change :smile:

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