photo courtesy of Pillsbury
As promised in yesterday’s post, here’s a short post about a strange method of turkey preparation that is very old-fashioned but also really reliable for a moist, delicious turkey.
It was passed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother, and then to my mother (who still roasts her turkey this way as well, when she cooks a turkey) and then to me.
My mother always called it “tucking in the turkey and putting him to bed”.
Because we don’t use foil or a cooking bag, or anything like that. We use a portion of a clean but old-enough-to-be-cut-up bed sheet.
Yes, a bed sheet.
I should probably start by saying another way we’re weird is that once we stuff the turkey, we sew up with the edges of the cavity with waxed string and a needle. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the first lessons in hand sewing I ever had, watching my mother seal the stuffing into the bird each year. 🙂 I suppose it’s also what assured me that I could never go into the medical profession, LOL.
But back to “putting the turkey to bed”.
Once your turkey is stuffed and placed in the roasting pan, with whatever seasonings you want sprinkled over him, you take your portion of clean sheet and get it soaking wet (as in dripping) in hot water. Spread it over the turkey like so, and tuck in all the edges (that’s how you put him to bed 🙂 ).
Then take a little Crisco on your fingers and smear it all over the sheet. It will be a bit difficult, because the sheet is wet, and water and oil don’t mix too well. But trust me, it helps the skin beneath to brown beautifully, while keeping the turkey meat moist and flavorful. Pour some hot water into the bottom of the pan (pouring over the top of the turkey if you want), and put the whole thing into a low (325 degree) oven.
As the turkey cooks, keep the sheet as moist as possible by frequent basting with first the hot water from the bottom of the pan, and then, as time goes on, with the juices from the cooking turkey.
When it’s finished, the sheet will be browned and even crispy itself in places (to the touch…trust me, I’ve never tried to eat the sheet!), but once it’s removed, the turkey beneath is perfection.
It looks funny and seems strange, but it really works. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! 🙂