Christmas tops the list of “favorite holidays” for many people, but not for romance writer Stacy Moran. Today, she shares a few thoughts — and a special recipe — for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thanksgiving — Better than Christmas
Thanksgiving. I love it more than Christmas, and here’s why.
Thanksgiving is getting absorbed by the Christmas festivities and shopping before it ever has a chance to be truly enjoyed.
With the Christmas season coming earlier and earlier every year, Thanksgiving is becoming known more as “the day before Black Friday” than an actual holiday. Christmas is swelling to monstrous proportions, swallowing Thanksgiving. Retailers are even staying open on Thanksgiving in order to beat competition’s sales.
A holiday that is in some ways controversial, but to me is the best time of year, is disappearing.
To me Thanksgiving is about…
- Amazing Food
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Gone with the Wind (my family tradition)
- A room filled with napping people
- The smell of turkey and pumpkin pies
- The start of colder weather
- Charlie Brown
- Memories of childhood
This year take a moment and remember your childhood, watch the parade, play football in the yard, savor Grandma’s stuffing, and just appreciate the day.
To make the day a bit easier here is my “go-to” recipe for moist turkey.
One Turkey, approx. 15 lbs.
Juice of a lemon
Salt and pepper
Tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery
Sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme
To start, if the turkey has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in its plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. While in the refrigerator, and or while you are bringing it to room temp, have the bird resting in a pan, so that if the plastic covering leaks for any reason, you are confining the juices to the pan.
Handle a raw turkey with the same amount of caution as when you handle raw chicken – use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. Wash your hands with soap before touching anything else in the kitchen. Use paper towels to clean up.
Remove the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, liver). Use the heart and gizzard for making stock for the stuffing. The neck can be cooked alongside the turkey or saved for turkey soup. Or all of the giblets can be used for making giblet gravy.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash out the turkey with water. Pull out any remaining feather stubs in the turkey skin. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Lather 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.
For flavor, put in inside the turkey, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery. You may need to cap the body cavity with some aluminum foil so that the stuffing doesn’t easily fall out. 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 all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt generously all over the outside of the turkey (or have had it soaking in salt-water brine before starting this process). 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. This is the main difference between the way mom makes turkey and everyone else. 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. And the resulting bird will have the most succulent turkey breast imaginable.
Add several sprigs of fresh (if possible) thyme and rosemary to the outside of the turkey.
Chop up the turkey giblets (gizzard, heart). Put into a small saucepan, cover with water, add salt. Bring to simmer for an hour or so to help make stock for the stuffing.
Put the turkey in the oven. Check the cooking directions on the turkey packaging. Gourmet turkeys often don’t take as long to cook. With the turkeys mom gets, she recommends 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.
Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up to carve it.
Once again remember the point of the day is to enjoy and be thankful for your family, friends, and the amazing food prepared.
About Stacy Moran:
Stacy was born in West Virginia but now finds herself living in Texas. She has loved writing since she wrote her first book in the first grade, The Land Without Rules. Her mother will tell you it was a brilliant piece of literature.
An author of several genres, she prefers to combine the mainstream genres of paranormal and gothic romance with elements of erotic, mythology and fantasy.
Her most recent works include, Blood Myth (The Myth Series), Sekhmet’s Revenge, The Lotus, and a series of erotic shorts, Temptation Tuesdays. You can find her books on Amazon.
Readers can find Stacy online at her official website, at her blog, and on Facebook.
- Book Tour: Blood Myth by Stacy A. Moran + Interview (debscrazyobsession.wordpress.com)