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Talking Turkey

What will be on your Thanksgiving table? I am more grateful for the people around it than for what lands on it. Rich is the man with a simple meal surrounded by great love. It took me years to understand this.

Which makes every day Thanksgiving.

Traditions are lovely, if they add to the love, so if some secret modifications occur, hey, who needs to know?

I am about to blab all of my turkey day short-cuts. I will understand if you decide not to eat the apple pie after all, but I have learned the hard way that life is too short for a great many things. And making your own pie crust is one of them.

I somehow always end up making the turkey. Early in my marriage I was asked to do it and there are few things more intimidating. You’re wrestling with a 25 pound naked headless bird that is supposed to feed your in-laws in just a few short hours while six other dishes need to be started.

The anxiety levels alone radiating off me should have cooked the thing.

All you know is that if you screw up, not only will we all have food poisoning but I will go down in family history…probably legend…as the one who ruined Thanksgiving.

Is there a Girl Scout Badge for suffering? No. There isn’t. Listen up.

I cook my thawed turkey (yes, I pulled all the bits out of the middle first) breast down in a plastic oven bag in a tray. I throw garlic and rosemary and thyme from the garden in it and on it. I cook it on 350* somewhere between 2 and 3 hours, depending on it’s weight. The bag directions will tell you.

But I will tell you to do this the day before Thanksgiving.

Yep. It’s wonderful. I take my time, no party pressure to hurry. When the bird’s done just right, I leisurely carve it. I take my largest metal pan, lined with foil, and arrange slices and wing joints in it and then seal it all up. I pop it into the fridge.

I pour the juices into a large tupperware and refrigerate.

The next day, I will take both items out. I put the fat chunks that have floated to the top of the tupperware and spoon them inside my turkey pan. Use some dripping juice if you think you want a little more moisture, just don’t end up making soup in there.

Pop the turkey pan, all sealed back up with foil, into the oven at 300* for about an hour and a half from when you want to eat. The fat will melt as the turkey warms and your house will smell amazing.

Polite guests will wonder why you’re sitting around chatting and drinking Pinot Grigio instead of fighting the turkey in the kitchen.

Because you worked smarter, not harder, that’s why.

If you wanted to pull out your Martha Stewart, that was yesterday. When you took the turkey carcass left over and put it into a stock pot and made broth for the freezer. And when you simmered the giblets in a pan and then saved the chopped up bits and the broth to make gravy. Which I didn’t make. Because enough years of trying went by before I decided to cheat on that one, too.

I set up two big crockpots.

One holds a twin-pack of ready made gravy from Costco, up to 1 and 1/2 cups of the turkey juices from that tupperware we used, and the giblet bits. People who wanted giblets are satisfied and people who don’t, won’t know they’re in there.

The other crockpot holds boxed stuffing mix made with the giblet broth. To this you could have added literally anything to make it more realistic. Chopped apple, celery, dried cranberries, whatever your great Aunt Mable insisted on.

She will never know the difference.

To cheat or not to cheat…that is the question.

To tell or not to tell…that’s a no brainer.

Published inLiving Larger


  1. Pam Schlottman

    Loved you comments. Thanksgiving is all about the people you love and want to be with. However one time my turkey for some reason did not cook right. Not sure what happened but my husband went to Vons and got the last fully cooked turkey they had . It saved the day. I think cooking the turkey the day before is a GREAT idea. But my kids (grown kids) would not hear of it. My daughter and her husband now cook the turkey and bring it to my house. Everything works out great. Everyone else, myself included, bring all the side dishes. . Have a great thanksgiving day.

  2. jessica@peace-of-pie

    I just can’t agree with you about the pie crust. 😉

    • Yes, I would think so! Put together your technique and I’ll post it. But you could make your fortune selling pie crusts to people like me who just can’t make it happen. There’s an idea.

  3. Andrea

    Yay for Thanksgiving!

  4. Anonymous

    That’s what I’m sayin…….

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