|Yep, we were so eager to dig in that this was the best picture I could get. I had already buttered my roll...|
My husband took the last week off for Thanksgiving. It’s been great having him home, but I’ve discovered something I don’t much like about myself. When my husband doesn’t go to work, I don’t either. I don’t have a job away from home ~ my job, as many of you know, is just as demanding, if not more so, taking care of home and family. But when my husband is home sleeping in and taking it easy, I want to be right there beside him. So for the last week or so I have been very lax at blogging, cleaning, cooking... Ug. The house is a disaster and I’m WAY behind on my blog. Hope you’re just as busy with the holidays and are willing to forgive me.
That said, we just had our “second Thanksgiving”, or as Oldest has dubbed it, “double-take-giving”. (I’m thinking that might be a great title for something more altruistic, but I’m still waiting for that idea to come to fruition.) The reason for double-take-giving is simply that we were invited elsewhere for Thanksgiving. While I love going to someone else’s house to eat ~ less cleaning, less stress ~ we never have any leftovers. While most of the time the animals aren’t too keen on leftovers, that all changes at Thanksgiving. So we were all craving more of that turkey and fixins goodness. (I’ve learned just to plan on a second Thanksgiving meal when we’re not the hosts, and since our extended family just keeps getting bigger and our house seems to be getting smaller, it’s pretty rare anymore when we do get to have the whole gang over.)
But I know you really came to check out the recipes, so let’s get to it!
I know this is odd to most people, but I like cooking my turkey in the crock pot if at all possible. You don’t get the crispy brown outer layer, but the meat is really... I just can’t think of the right words. I’m too busy drooling. This bird was so moist and flavorful it was literally falling off the bone. (And I mean “literally” literally, not just as emphasis the way it's too often used.) I seriously couldn’t get enough purchase to even get it out of the pot in one piece. It was THE. BEST. TURKEY. EVER. Honestly, I have never eaten a turkey that tasted any better than this one. I’ve never even eaten turkey that came close. I don’t even like turkey all that well, but I couldn’t keep from nibbling as I finished preps and served it up. And the gravy... oooohhhhh. You really MUST taste this! It’s really VERY simple ~ just my basic flavorful pot roast recipe. I don’t use stuffing, since I think it would be very soggy, but dressing works just as well in my opinion. (Not to mention I get to spend less time with my hands inside the turkey, which makes my germaphobia very, very happy.) So here’s the recipe adapted for turkey:
Flavorful Thanksgiving (or anytime) Turkey
for approximately every 2-2½ pounds of turkey use
1 envelope dry ranch salad dressing mix
1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix
1 envelope turkey gravy mix (I used this, it has a lovely flavor)
½ cup water
Place the turkey in a slow cooker. If it doesn’t fit, put it in a roasting pan with a tight fitting lid.
In a separate bowl combine the salad dressing and gravy mixes; stir in water. Pour over meat.
Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until tender. (If using the oven, cook at 200°. Yes, it is a cool oven temperature. If it worries you, please check out the slow cooking turkey note below.) Check often after 5-6 hours to make sure you don’t overcook. (This is easy to do in the crock pot if you make sure you put the pop-up thingy where you can see it through the glass lid.)
When done, move turkey to a platter and use juices as-is or for gravy:
I pour the juice off the turkey strait into my largest glass measuring cup. Then I know exactly how much liquid I have. I usually add a can of vegetable broth too, since I like the flavor it adds, but you don’t have to. Then for every 1 cup liquid you need to use 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Some recipes call for you to add the liquid all at once, but I find I get lumps that way. To prevent lumps, pour in a little liquid, stirring or whisking like mad until smooth, then add a little more, stirring and whisking again. Keep doing this until you’ve added the juice. Turn the heat up to high or medium-high. Cook and stir until it thickens into gravy. If it’s too thick, add a little more liquid (broth, water or even milk). If it’s too thin, put 2 tablespoons of flour into a bowl. Slowly add about ½ cup of the hot gravy to the flour, stirring like above to prevent lumps, or just stir in a little hot water. Pour back into boiling gravy and stir until thickened.
I love, love, LOVE this gravy. It’s probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving. When I have gravy leftovers, rather than bother with mashed potatoes I just heat up a bit and eat it with a roll or a piece of bread. (My dad grew up on a farm and passed on some of his strange farmish ways like bread-sopping. I DO NOT EVER do this in front of company, and try not to let my boys watch me doing it either. I don’t want to pass it on. They have enough animalisms to overcome as it is.)
So that’s how to cook my amazing turkey. I baked the rest of a package of Rhodes rolls I opened for Thanksgiving, heated up some frozen corn (this, it was soooo tasty) and cooked some baby carrots. I was going to do dressing but completely forgot. No one seemed to notice. Tried out a new recipe for mashed potatoes (I’m planning on blogging it tomorrow if I don’t get distracted) and, of course, pies, pies, pies for dessert. (Blogging them later too.)
I highly recommend this turkey recipe, not just for Thanksgiving, but anytime. Especially if you ever want to start your own double-take-giving tradition.
Here is some slow cooking turkey research I got from somewhere off the internet a few years ago. If you’re still concerned after reading it, feel free to research for yourself. But I’ve been cooking turkey this way for a couple of years now and no one has ever gotten sick.
Slow cooking turkey makes perfect sense. But, is it safe? Recently the USDA changed their “done” internal temperature recommendation for cooking turkey from 185º to 165º. No one seems to know why. (In Canada it’s still 185º.) In 1988 the University of Minnesota Department of Food Science did an excellent study on slow cooking turkey. Four stuffed turkeys were used and two were actually injected with bacteria. The outcome proved that if the stuffing reaches an internal temperature of at least 165º, slow cooking turkey safely spends plenty of time at temperatures lethal to all unwanted organisms.