Is your turkey thawed yet? If not, you will want to thaw your turkey at room temperature so that you can get all the preparation completed before the Big Day. (If time permits, it is always best to slowly thaw meats before cooking, however if time is short such as now--you must just get it thawed.)
My favorite pre-prep is to rub a Tablespoon of salt for every 7 pounds the turkey weighs inside both the body and the thoracic cavities. I prefer this to brining as brining makes the skin more tender and susceptible to cracking as it roasts which will release precious juices. I prefer to always do the salting on Tuesday evening--two days before roasting, so the salt can permeate the flesh and flavor it.
This evening, you can simmer the giblets in chicken stock with sage and thyme, using fresh sprigs if possible. I like to get them simmered and very tender long before roasting time. Then I chop them finely for the gravy. If there are globs of turkey fat inside the bird, remove them for melting and reserve for brushing on the bird before roasting.
Sometime today or tomorrow, you can prepare the stuffing or dressing. I like to always add some chopped green chile to whatever kind of stuffing. For the stuffing, you can use a mix, or your own crumbled cornbread or lightly toasted bread cubes. In addition to freshly chopped sage or rubbed dry sage, add butter basted chopped celery and onion. And, add some pinon nuts and sausage or use coarsely chopped walnuts. My Mother always used fresh oysters, which are very good if you like oysters.
An hour before roasting remove the turkey from the refrigerator and stuff it loosely, allowing space for the stuffing to expand. Truss the stuffing in with string and roasting pins. Preheat the oven to 450F, removing any racks that will get in the way of the turkey. Then brush the turkey with the rendered turkey fat if available or with softened unsalted butter. Next, I like to sprinkle on finely chopped fresh sage and rosemary or any herbs you have available. Place on a rack in a roaster. Do not cover.
There is a lot of controversy about how and what temperature to roast a turkey. If I have a turkey that weighs over 20 pounds, I like the English roasting method of roasting it overnight. To do this, ready the bird about 1 hour before your planned bedtime. Place it in the 450F preheated oven and roast 30 minutes--if over 25 pounds, roast 5 minutes more. Then splash with dry Sherry wine, reduce the oven temperature to 250F. and close the oven door and go to bed. In the morning, begin basting it every 30 minutes with the pan juices. The bird will become very bronzed appearing and the meat will be juicy and very flavorful. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before carving.
If a smaller turkey, place the room temperature stuffed bird in a preheated 450F. oven and roast 20 minutes, before turning the temperature to 325F if time permits, If time is short, reduce to 350F. Roast until at 170F--some like roasted to 180F or even 185F--but that can make for drier meat. Some even roast it only to 165F in the breast and 170F in the thighs. In general, allow 30 to 35 minutes per pound at 325F and 25 to 30 minutes at 350F . If done more than 1 hour before serving, leave in the oven at 200F until about 30 minutes before removing for setting before carving.
To make the gravy, I like to remove the turkey from the roasting pan and then lightly sprinkle flour on the drippings and cook and stir until lightly bubbly, them sprinkle on a bit of either mild or hot pour ground red chile powder and cook for a few moments, then add the giblets and cooking liquid and chicken stock and simmer until of the desired consistency.
You can spike up sweet potatoes with a bit of tequila and mild red chile powder. Chopped green chile is always a welcome addition to corn custard or any green vegetable,
For easy, arm chair shopping; and wonderful, caring gifts, remember gift certificates of our classes or products are always welcome! Starting Friday, we will be discounting all of our classes.
Try this corn custard for a delicious side dish. My Mother always served Corn Custard on Thanksgiving and some form of Pumpkin Pie. Here's a recipe for each that works quite well.
CHILE-CORN CUSTARD CAZUELAS
The green chiles in this recipe form a lovely and unusual crust for the golden custard. For greatest flair, prepare in and serve in earthenware bowls (cazuelas).
Yield: 12 servings
2 dozen while large, fresh New Mexican green chiles, parched, and sliced open
6 eggs, beaten
4 cans (15 ounces each) yellow cream-style corn
1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal (if desired, crumbled tostado or taco shells may be substituted)
1 ½ teaspoons salt (reduce amount if using salted tostados)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon baking powder
12 Tablespoons sweet butter melted
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (not necessary to grate if using a food processor or blender; can use low or no-fat cheddar or Jack cheese to reduce fat)
1. Butter 12 ovenproof earthenware bowls or individual casseroles. Then peel the chiles, remove the stems, and rinse out the seeds, leaving the chiles whole. Place two whole, sliced open chiles in each casserole, big or stem end up, slightly above the rim of each bowl. As uniformly as possible, stretch the two chiles to cover the bottom and sides of each.
2. Place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until well blended.
3. Pour into the individual, green chile-lined casseroles, dividing the mixture evenly. Bake 30 minutes at 375F, then reduce the temperature to 325F for another 10 minues, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. These keep amazingly well. I’ve kept them in a 150Foven for 3 to 4 hours while waiting serving time and they really do not suffer. Place the casserole dishes on a service plate to serve.
PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE TORTE
This torte is creamy and wonderful. And it’s best made a day ahead!
Yield: 8 servings
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
CREAM CHEESE MIXTURE:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla, Mexican if possible
1 egg, beaten
1 ¼ cups cooked or canned, pureed pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the cream cheese with the rest of the ingredients in the Cream Cheese Mixture and beat with a mixer or blend well in a food processor.
2. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell. Combine the pumpkin mixture ingredients, using a whisk, mixer, blender, or food processor. Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the cheese mixture. Using your finger or a rubber scraper, lightly mix through the two mixtures to marbleize them, running your finger or scraper in swirls.
3. Bake for 1 hour on the bottom shelf of the oven or until the pie is done, which you can tell by jiggling it. It should be firm and an inserted knife should come out clean. Allow to cool before cutting or serving.