For our Thanksgiving meal I went traditional and roasted a turkey. I purchased a fresh bird that was vegetarian grain fed and medication free. A bit of a step up from your regular frozen bird but without the price sticker shock of a free range organic turkey. It turned out perfect. I do not stuff my turkey other than with some aromatics, and I roast at 325 degrees starting with the breast side down. For the last hour or so, turn the bird over so it is breast side up and finish roasting. I do this for two reasons. First, I really find that it makes for juicier breast meat and the second bonus is that the skin on the back side of the bird gets a chance to become golden and crispy. With a small bird such as the one I had (just under 10 lbs) turning it is an easy task to accomplish.
To prep for the oven add a few sprigs of thyme, a rosemary branch and a couple of lemon wedges inside after seasoning with pepper and salt. Make sure outside of bird is completely dry then rub slightly softened butter into the skin, season with salt and pepper.
For years now I have not cooked the stuffing or dressing if you prefer, inside the bird. I don’t care for the increased cooking time required as it can make the turkey dry out and I like that when doing them separately in a baking dishes you can prep well ahead of time and then finish in a hot oven while the turkey is resting, gravy is being made etc.
For the stuffing this year I used two kinds of bread. I had wanted to use Challah or Biroche but was unable to find either. What I ended up using was an egg and buttermilk bread for most of it and added some rustic cranberry almost sourdough like loaf for additional texture. May seem like an odd mixture but the results were really good. This was added to the butter sautéed onions, celery and mushrooms seasoned generously with fresh sage, thyme and a touch of rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Good quality chicken stock for moisture and flavor. It’s important to have the right ratio of melted butter and stock to achieve a moist, yet not soggy stuffing that will crisp up on top. This year I think I found just the right balance.
Side dishes to round out the meal were a Yukon gold and yam mash, peas and pearl onions and sliced carrots with butter and parsley. Gravy and cranberries both homemade with great flavor to add the finishing touches to the plate.
Arthritis Kitchen Tips for Turkey Day:
- Choose a fresh instead of a frozen turkey. Way less lifting and dealing with on the whole.
- Write out what you are serving and a basic time line. Being organized saves extra steps.
- Pace yourself – I find it saves energy to prep vegetables for example in the morning then when time to cook peeling and chopping is already done.
- Is there anything you can prep the day before?
- Think ahead and plan and take out all serving dishes at least the day before – saves extra lifting and carrying on cook day.
- Make your stuffing in a baking dish instead of stuffing into the bird. Allows you to prep in advance so you can budget your energy and is easy to serve.
- Lifting things in and out of the oven difficult – ask for help.
- Relax – its just dinner.