My Strange Way of Preparing a Turkey

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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”.

imageBecause 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.

 

imageI 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. imageSpread 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! 🙂

 

30 Minute (Delicious!) Italian Meatballs

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photo: courtesy of recipeinnovations.com

While I am not of Italian descent, my sweet, 100% Italian mother-in-law gave me her recipe for homemade meatballs, passed down from her mother, and her mother’s mother, who were all from Ancona, Italy, on the Adriatic Sea.

Her recipe requires overnight preparation and at least an hour of cooking, since simmering the meatballs in a pot of homemade sauce is the final step. However, although her recipe is of course much more authentic and to the trained palate undoubtedly tastes superior, it nevertheless serves as the basis for my “quick”, a bit healthier, and almost-as-tasty version.

The ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef (or you can use ground turkey)

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1 whole egg

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp. salt and pepper

1 tsp. each garlic powder and onion powder

1 tsp. dried basil (or 6 leaves fresh, chopped fine)image

 

Begin by putting the ground beef in a medium-sized bowl.

imageAdd all of the other ingredients and mix. I suggest hand mixing, since it blends everything more fully, but be sure to remove any rings first! 🙂

 

For health reasons, I like to bake, rather than pan-fry my meatballs, so I pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a pan (mine is round), lining it with foil and sometimes giving it a spritz of non-stick cooking spray for easy clean up.

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Roll the meatballs out to your preferred size (keep in mind: the bigger the meatball, the longer the cooking time). I like mine this size.

A lb. of ground beef makes 10-12 meatballs, in the size I like.

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After they’re on the pan and the oven is hot, put them in and bake for 20-25 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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They come out nicely browned and ready to pop into sauce, use in a meatball sub, or just eat plain. 🙂

It’s so easy that there’s no reason not to be able to have homemade meatballs even on a busy weeknight after a day of work.

Mangia! And happy eating.