Saturday, April 23, 2011

Turkey with Stuffing without breaking the Budget

We have a very busy family (four of which reside in 2 households) therefore when we are all able to meet up in the same place for a meal we celebrate. Tonight is turkey night for seven. The first time I cooked a turkey (age 33) was a bit scary. Luckily I happened to have my Mother visiting and was walked through the process. About 20 turkeys later and zero failure rate! According to my Betty Crocker cook book there is no difference between fresh and frozen turkeys. I wait until the turkey gets to .99 cents per pound and buy a young frozen turkey - 12 lbs in this case for seven - and there are always leftovers.

Here is a step by step Turkey cooking/stuffing recipe process:

1. Unthaw your turkey 2 days ahead - start out on the counter and finish in the fridge. If you prefer to thaw entirely in the fridge check the night before you are set to cook to ensure it will be completely thawed. If you run out of time you can also place the turkey in a sink full of water which speeds the thawing process.

2. Extract turkey from plastic casing - be sure to remove the neck piece and giblet bag that the meat packers leave inside the cavity. You can use those if you wish in making broth for future meals. You can also cook those outside the turkey as they add to gravy flavouring.

3. Thoroughly wash the bird. Salt the exterior-I never used to salt but find it makes the skin taste even better. Drizzle olive oil or rub butter/margarine over breast area

4. Place the bird breast side up. Most roasting pans come a small rack that make it easier to remove the bird when done roasting. I pour 1 cup water in the bottom to mix with the juices and butter/oil for basting.

My Mothers Stuffing Recipe:
3/4 cup chopped white onion
1 1/2 cup chopped celery (include some leaf bits for extra taste)
2 1/2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons pepper
1 - 1 1/2 loaves of bread (any kind except rye) torn up into small 1 inch pieces
1/2 - 3/4 cup margarine
Water/Vegetable stock/Chicken stock as moistening agent

In a saucepan on the stove melt the butter, poultry seasoning, pepper, onions and celery just until butter melts and onions are starting to turn opaque then remove from the heat. Pour the mixture over the bread and add 1 - 2 cups of water or stock so that the mixture is just moist when thoroughly mixed.

Adjust ingredients to taste. I always make it exactly as above as hubby loves this stuffing. If you use less butter you must make sure to add extra hot water to give the stuffing some moisture. I prefer to stuff the bird (take your rings off first) with the stuffing putting excess under the skin beside the legs. I also prefer to use fresh bread (or recently thawed) versus day old or croutons that they sell for this purpose as find it tastes better. You could save bread ends for the month or two prior to turkey day for this purpose. I had a bag in the freezer for this purpose but hubby went and fed my bread ends to our little geese friends in the back yard :)

Some prefer not to stuff the bird for fear of botulism. I always immediately remove 100% of the meat and stuffing before we sit down to eat so generally that eliminates the risk but if you don't want to stuff I would recommend the above recipe used with 1 - 1.5 cups of chicken stock added - cook for 1 hour 325 - 350 degrees Celsius (same temperature as bird - you could even make a tin foil pouch of this if you don't have enough room in the oven for the 2 dishes)

Once the bird is stuffed make tin foil covers for the wings and leg/stuffing area otherwise the stuffing gets too dry or burnt in that area. Make a little tin foil tent over the whole bird (that is removable to baste every 1 -1 1/2 hr). I wonder why the roasting pan comes with a lid that all cookbooks tell you not to use when cooking turkey?

My 12 lb bird bakes at 325 degrees for 4 - 4 1/2 hours. We serve it with mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, corn or salad. If you want to entertain more people I would add more side dishes.

My Turkey feast for 7 cost(approximates):
Turkey $12 (12 lbs frozen young)
Celery .50
Onion .50
Bread $2
Gravy (I buy gravy mixes as still can't make a great gravy on my own) $2
Potatoes $2
Butter/Margarine $1
Corn or salad $1
Cranberry sauce $1

Total cost $20 with leftovers

Happy Easter Everyone!

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