I have made my Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey this way for the past couple years and it is tender and juicy. It is very different placing the turkey upside down in the pan but it truly is a way to keep the turkey breast moist. I spent my entire childhood stuffing the turkey with dressing with my mom but cooking it outside the turkey is safer and you can use turkey stock for flavoring. My mom’s gravy recipe follows.
Recipe found on the website http://www.simplyrecipes.com but altered by me to make it simpler.
Bring the turkey to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in its plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. If you get a frozen turkey, you will need to defrost it in the refrigerator for several days first. Allow approximately 5 hours of defrosting for every pound.
Remove the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, liver). Use the heart and gizzard for making stock for the stuffing and gravy. Put the turkey giblets into a small saucepan, cover with water, add salt and a bay leaf. Bring to simmer and continue cooking until you are ready to make the gravy (add more water as needed).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash out the turkey with water. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Rub the inside of the cavity with the juice of half a lemon. Take a small handful of salt and rub all over the inside of the turkey. Use caution with this step, too much salt leads to over salted gravy since you will use the drippings. I made this mistake two years in a row.
Do not make the stuffing in the turkey because it increases the cooking time and is unsafe due to the possibility of bacteria in the stuffing. For flavor, insert 1/2 a yellow onion, peeled and quartered, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery inside the cavity. Close up the turkey cavity with either string (not nylon string) or metal skewers. Make sure that the turkey’s legs are tied together, held close to the body, and tie a string around the turkey body to hold the wings in close.
Rub either melted butter or olive oil all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt generously all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle pepper over the turkey.
Place turkey breast down on the bottom of a rack over a sturdy roasting pan big enough to catch all the drippings. Cooking the turkey breast down means the skin over the breast will not get so brown. However, all of the juices from the cooking turkey will fall down into the breast while cooking.
Add several sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary to the outside of the turkey.
Put the turkey in the oven. Cooking time of about 15 minutes for every pound. For the 15 lb turkey, start the cooking at 400 F for the first 1/2 hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 F for the next 2 hours. Then reduce the heat further to 225 F for the next hour to hour and a half.
If you want the breast to be browned as well, you can turn the bird over so that the breast is on top, and put it in a 500°F oven or under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, just enough to brown the breast. Note that if you do this, you will have a higher risk of overcooking the turkey breast.
Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, an hour before the turkey should be done. You want a resulting temperature of 175°F for the dark meat (thighs and legs) and 165°F for the white meat (breast). The temperature of the bird will continue to rise once you take it out of the oven, so take it out when the temperature reading for the thigh is 170°F, and for the breast 160°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, spear the breast with a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink.
Mom’s Gravy Recipe
This is a very simple recipe but needs some attention to get it right. I have finally perfected mom’s turkey gravy and it sure does dress up a turkey dinner.
Take the giblets from the turkey and place in a pan of cold water. Add bay leaf and a few dashes of salt and pepper. Simmer while turkey is cooking to make stock. Add water if necessary just keep the heat low.
When turkey is done, remove from roasting pan and use drippings for gravy. Place roasting pan on stove and shake some flour and water in a small container. Add flour mixture with turkey stock to drippings and simmer until gravy is the appropriate thickness for you. Keep adding flour mixture and stock until flavor is good. Season with salt and pepper.
My mom is from Canada, and a popular dessert in Canada is Butter Tarts. They are so delicious and you cannot find them in the USA. One of the key ingredients is starting out with my moms pastry, passed down through the generations; it calls for lard. If you don’t want to use lard, that is fine, but it will change the taste. I have tried many butter tarts while visiting Canada and I have never found one comparable in taste to my mom’s.
Roll out pastry and cut pastry to fit muffin pan. Paper baking cups will help avoid sticking but if not using spray pan with non-stick spray. Cream first 3 ingredients together. Add a little of the beaten egg at a time to creamed mixture while beating then add vanilla, salt and vinegar. Add raisins then spoon mixture into pastry cups.
Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, lower temp to 350 degrees and bake 12 minutes more.
Yields 15-18 tarts
Mix the above 4 ingredients together in a large bowl, use fork to start then by hand (I use my Cuisinart mixer for the entire recipe and it does a fabulous job).
Beat egg in a measuring cup, add white vinegar, then add water to make ¾ cup.
Add to flour mixture and mix. Mix until lard is almost absorbed. Mixture will be very sticky. Roll into log and cut into 6 even pieces. Wrap in tin foil and freeze for at least 1 day.
Thaw and roll out with lots of flour.
A good old-fashioned spaghetti and meatball recipe. I have ruined other meatballs for my children and myself with this meatball recipe. The recipe is originally from Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen cookbook but I have changed it and made it my own to make it simpler. It is the best meatball recipe I have found and I have become an expert at making them. It really isn’t as difficult as it looks, give it a try.
Picture above from our trip to Venice, Italy in 2018 and my daughter enjoying her spaghetti when she was 5 years old (2008)….both great memories.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a 4- to 5-quart pot over medium high heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, crushed red pepper and bay leaves, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, crumble the pork and beef into a mixing bowl. Add the bread crumbs, 1/3 cup grated cheese, the parsley, and garlic over the meat. Beat the egg with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl until blended. Pour over the meat mixture. Mix the ingredients with clean hands just until evenly blended. Don’t over mix. Shape the meat mixture into 1-1/2 inch balls.
Dredge the meatballs in the flour until lightly but evenly coated. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil and the vegetable oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Slip as many meatballs into the skillet as will fit without crowding. Fry, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Adjust the heat as the meatballs cook to prevent them from over browning. Remove the meatballs, and repeat if necessary with the remaining meatballs.
Add the browned meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, until no trace of pink remains at the center of the meatballs, about 30 minutes.
Stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, about 8 minutes.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Spoon in about 2 cups of the tomato sauce, tossing well until the pasta is coated with sauce. Remove from the heat and toss in 2/3 cup grated cheese. Check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve the pasta in warm bowls or piled high on a large warm platter. Spoon a little more of the sauce over the pasta, and pass the remaining sauce separately. Pass the meatballs family-style in a bowl, or top the bowls or platter of spaghetti with them.
Enjoy! I know you will love it.
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Sharing my favorite recipes