Gypsy's Travels

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Talk

I am replete - full of turkey dressing and all the trimmings, plus pumpkin and pecan pie. We will come close to repeating the scene on Christmas Day and then be so tired of it that we won't think of having any turkey and dressing for a whole year.

DS made an interesting observation on this holiday's menu - "Your generation is the last to know how to cook the turkey and dressing as we have known it."

That is hard to imagine , but as I look around and watch the ads in the paper, it does seem plausible. Popular images show a large, well-browned turkey resting on a platter, but how many people actually present such a picture at the table? Our home has not carved a turkey at the table since I realized the children were finished eating before the carver had lifted his first fork of food. Now, someone carves ahead of time, we pass the slices, and everyone eats together.

My manner of cooking a turkey has changed rather drastically over the years. In early times, I stuffed the turkey with the cornbread dressing and roasted it in an open pan, covered with foil for the first few hours. The turkey was usually dry and the dressing rich with all the fat and drippings. Roasting the bird in a brown paper bag from the grocery store provided a moister result. Over the years, my methods changed as I learned about the health hazards of fat and brown paper bags. Now I roast the turkey in an oven bag, pour the resulting de-fatted juices over my dressing and roast the dressing separately. The meat is moist, the dressing is flavorful, the fat is drastically reduced. No one complains.

There are still plenty of turkeys available to cook whole, but there are an increasing number of options. The big birds can be bought already roasted, smoked, or fried Cajun style. You can buy the leg, breast, side, half, or almost any of your favorite parts of the the bird individually. If you feel inclined to make your own gravy, you can purchase the hearts, gizzards, livers, and necks as well. Somehow, I get the impression that homemade giblet gravy is vanishing along with the home cooked turkey and I wonder how many other people make good cornbread to use for stuffing. No sugar in the cornbread, thank you.

Today's consumers don't even have to cook. Entire dinners can be catered or just purchased from the local grocery store. This back-fired on me one year. I knew I would be working a 12-hour shift and not able to get a proper meal on the table in a timely manner. I thought I would be ahead by ordering the "ready-to-eat" meal from our local grocery store. I figured DH and the older children could have it on the table when I got home. I arranged everything, all DH had to do was pick it up that day and set it out. Unfortunately, the grocery's idea of "ready-to-eat" and mine did not agree. The meal was frozen, required thawing, and cooking.

Perhaps DS is right. We who have cooked the turkeys for our feasts are a waning breed. The current generation, however, is providing new and interesting ideas such as brining the turkey before cooking, and one of these days I will try the Turducken. Turducken? It is a stuffed, boned chicken, inside a stuffed, boned duck, inside a stuffed, boned turkey. All the stuffings are different and the whole is roasted together. Sounds good, but I think it will have to be eaten on another occasion. I just love our traditions.


  1. I roasted my turkey (stuffed of course) in an open pan yesterday. Don't give up on the next generation- I'm not that old yet :) We don't do giblet gravy in my family though...and Mom had to make the gravy.

    I also made roasted garlic mashed potatoes, acorn squash, sweet potato casserole, fresh cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. The neighbor brought some green beans. Added to my 18+ pound turkey and we had more than enough for three people. What I can say? I love Thanksgiving leftovers. I only made one pie this year though...that didn't quite feel right.


  2. Yeaaaaa! There are few to carry on the tradition. Your sides sound wonderful!

  3. I only heard of a turducken this year, when my Pittsburgh friends (for the second year in a row apparently) brought a vegan one. It was amazing. There are several different ways to make vegan meat substitutes, and they used three different ways, for sheer ridiculousness factor.

  4. Sounds good, Art! Better than "Tofurkey?

  5. Well, I think the tradition will carry on. I am happy to say I roast a darn good turkey! I'm with Uncle Dan though - put my stuffing in the turkey. It was yummy though...made for great leftovers.


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