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Happy Thanksgiving-Turkey Tips and More

By Jane Butel  November 23, 2021

Now with two days to go before Thanksgiving--you will want to thaw your turkey at room temperature if you haven't already thawed it.  As you probably know 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 cavitites.  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.

You can simmer the giblets in chicken stock with sage and thyme, using fresh sprigs if possible this evening or wait until tomorrow.  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 I am making.  For a change, try using your homemade blue corn bread for the basis of the stuffing or use a mix, or your own crumbled cornbread or lightly toasted bread cubes.  If you have them, use 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 in a rack in a roaster.  Do not cover.

There is a lot of controversy about  how and what temperature to roast it.  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  short on time, 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 coasting 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 nil 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.


By the way, we had glitch on our website for ordering Pecos Valley products--it is fixed now!

For wonderful, caring gifts, remember gift certificate of our classes or products are always welcome!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's a favorite Stuffing--


I created this recipe for Cuisine magazine a few ago and it has become one of my most requested recipes. The dressing can be doubled or tripled for stuffing full sized turkeys.

6-8 pound bone-in turkey breast, with skin

1 Tablespoon salt

½ cup Spanish dry sherry

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 Tablespoons thinly sliced sage

Blue Cornbread Dressing, recipe attached

1. Salt the inside of the turkey 2-12 hours before roasting. Try not to get salt on the skin as it may crack and release juices during roasting.

2. Preheat oven to 375. Place stuffing in a well-buttered, shallow casserole for roasting. Mold dressing into a football shape to accommodate turkey.

3. Drizzle sherry over dressing. Drape boned breast skin side up over the dressing and mold to a nice, round uniform shape. Tuck sides and any loose skin under the dressing.

4. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle sage over the breast. Roast for 45 minutes, then turn breast and roast for another 45 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast reads 165 degrees F.

5. Let turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.


4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup celery, diced

½ cup pinon nuts, toasted

Blue Cornbread, recipe attached

1 cup parched green chiles, chopped

2 Tablespoons minced fresh sage

½ cup chicken broth

Salt to taste

  1. Melt butter in sauté pan over medium heat. Saute onion and celery until celery is soft and onions begin to turn translucent.
  2. In large mixing bowl, break cornbread into large pieces. Combine with onion, celery, green chiles, and fresh sage. Blend gently.
  3. Add chicken broth and pinon nuts. Blend, but do not overmix. Salt to taste


3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup blue corn flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter in skillet and place in oven while preheating to melt butter.
  2. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate bowl whisk together egg and milk. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. Pour melted butter into mixture. Stir just until combined. Pour batter into skillet and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick come out clean. Cool in skillet.




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