Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A quick turkey dinner

I had a frozen turkey that I had put by about a year ago. (Yes, a whole year!) I decided I'd better go ahead and use it, so I took it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator it went to thaw. It weighed about 14 pounds and I left it to thaw for 5 days. At that point I hadn't even decided for sure what I was going to do with it. But since we did not have Thanksgiving Dinner here at our home, we were not covered up with leftovers, so I chose to make a simple, traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner just for me and my husband. (I mentioned using the carcass to make soup on an earlier post.) So, here is what I did.

The Turkey ~ Wash in cold water, remove the giblets and/or neck from the cavities, wash those and put them in a pan, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until thoroughly done. In the cavity of the turkey, place a large peeled onion and a mixture of dried parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme tied up in a little piece of cotton cloth. Put the bird in a roasting pan that has a lid. Rub the skin with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and some more of that same herb mixture. Put the lid on the pan and place in a 350 degree F. oven on the middle rack.

"Stuffing"~ In a cast iron frying pan, melt 1/2 cup butter and add a large diced onion, 2 cups of diced celery (I pulled mine out of the freezer. I often dice and freeze celery so it won't go to waste and is ready to use in soups and things). Saute', stirring often until the vegetables start to get limp. Then, take about 1/2 loaf of bread (I used my homemade whole wheat, but you could use any bread you have, and it's a good way to use stale bread) and cut it into little cubes. Put them in the pan and continue to cook for a little while, stirring. Take some of the liquid from cooking the giblets/neck (my bird didn't come with giblets) and mix in an egg. Pour that over the stuffing. Add some more of that same herb mix mentioned above. Stir it all up well and turn off the heat. Add more of the broth if needed to make it moist but not soggy. Cover the pan with either parchment paper or waxed paper and then with aluminum foil. You could use a lid, but then your pan might not fit in the oven with the turkey. During the last hour of roasting the turkey, put this pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Then it will be done at the same time.

Mashed Potatoes ~ Scrub as many potatoes as you think you will need and cut them in quarters. Do not peel if the skins are decent. Put them all in a Crock Pot, cover with water and cook either on high for about 2 hours or low for 4 hours. Then when everything is done, drain off most of the water and add some butter, milk, salt and a little garlic powder and mash thoroughly.

Gravy ~ When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and use your baster to take out the pan drippings. If you don't have a baster, with a little help, pour the drippings out. Put them all in a saucepan. Add enough of the aforementioned broth to make the amount of gravy you would like to have. You will have to gauge the amount of thickening by how much liquid you are now using. For 1 cup of liquid, use 1 Tablespoon non-GMO cornstarch or 2 Tablespoons of unbleached mixed in a little warm water. When it all comes to a boil, then slowly add the thickening, stirring carefully to prevent lumping. Add any little bits of meat from the neck and dice the giblets too. Simmer until thick, then taste it and see if it needs anything else, like a little more salt or pepper, but it probably won't.

Cranberry Sauce ~ I LOVE cranberry sauce! Put 2 cups of cranberries in a saucepan, 1/2 cup honey, or if you don't mind the mild molasses flavor, you can use 1 cup of Sucanat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and chill if you like, but you don't have to have it cold if you are doing this at the last minute.

Vegetables ~ Just pick what you like off the shelf or out of the fridge and cook them! We had some home canned green beans with this meal. Corn and sweet potatoes are more traditional.

There you go! It sounds complicated, but it's simply not. Roast turkey is one of the easiest things to cook, and there are always nice leftovers for soup, sandwiches, salads, etc.

Here is one thing I like to do with some of the leftovers. Cut some of the turkey meat into bite sized pieces, and mix with enough stuffing to fill a pie plate. Pour some of the gravy over that and top with mashed potatoes and bake it at 350 degrees F. until heated through. I call it "Thanksgiving Pie."

This post is shared at Traditional Tuesday!


  1. Oooo! I love a simple turkey dinner. Do you have leftovers? :-)

  2. Yes, are we're eating them tomorrow! Hurry!

  3. Sounds good! I also have a 14 lb. turkey I bought from my co-op who sources local farmed foods. I have cooked one before totally winging it (turned out really good) , but it is nice to have some instructions to follow. It is a big turkey for the two of us, but I look forward to all of the meals I can make with the leftovers. I eat cranberries all year round. I love making smoothies with them. Thanks for the recipe! Have a blessed holiday!

    1. You're welcome and Happy Thanksgiving to you!


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