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Old 11-05-2004, 08:46 AM   #1
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Thanksgiving turkey changes

I had a lot of time to let my mind wander at my meetings the last couple days so I planned my Turkey Day menu. Here's what I'm struggling with though. I'm cooking for everyone again this year and my family isn't all that adventurous, especially when it comes to a meal as traditional as Thanksgiving dinner. I'm really curious about trying to brine my turkey but I'm unsure because 1-I don't want to screw it up on Thanksgiving and 2-my mom usually brings the turkey over, stuffed and ready to go. It's her contribution and my dad is beyond picky and likes her turkey. I can hear my mom already if I tell her I'm doing the turkey too ("I wish I could do more to help. I feel so badly I didn't bring anythingā€¯ The reverse guilt will go on and on all day!). Do I just grin and bear it and have the same old turkey or say the heck with family and try something new for a change?

Also, do you have opinions on using a rack in your roaster vs. not? My mom has always just plopped the turkey in a roaster and it's come out well (not greasy or anything). Again, I'd like to play around a bit and try something different, but....

Also, do you stuff your birds or cook them "empty," with stuffing just being a side?

I'm full of questions today, aren't I?!?


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Old 11-05-2004, 09:05 AM   #2
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I have never brined a turkey so I can't help on that, I imagine that it would be great if you did. It is safer to cook the bird unstuffed, and faster too. The rack is a good idea, but a better one would be to "rack it" using veggies, chicken wings and garlic cloves, all get discarded but makes for a flavorful gravy. I would use carrots, onions, celery, parsnips and turnups, cut into big chunks on the bottom of the pan. S+P too.

Let mom bring dessert if it makes her feel better, oh and another thought on dessert, add in spices to the whipped cream, nutmeg or cinnamon for apple or pumpkin pie. and a little sprinkle on top is a nice touch too.

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Old 11-05-2004, 09:10 AM   #3
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Depends on how whacked out your family gets at changes to the routine. If you think they can deal with it, I say full steam ahead on trying something different. If you anticipate that it will be too much for them, go for introducing some changes in the side dishes or desserts.

Anymore I fix "outside the bird" stuffing, but mom made it for years in the bird and we never suffered any ill effects. I like PT's idea of the veggie 'rack'.
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Old 11-05-2004, 10:51 AM   #4
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I make my stuffing outside the bird, too - but it's 'cause I have two veggie guys in the house, who love stuffing! I also think the bird cooks a bit better if you cook him unstuffed.

Re the rack idea, veggies are good - this also I learned from one of the chefs , if you don't want/have veggies for the bottom ot the pan - take some foil, crimp it up into 'logs', and then make 3-4 circles from them; put them in the bottom of the pan, and put the turkey on top of that.

If you want to go ahead and have your mom bring the 'traditional' turkey, why not play around with some traditional sides instead? Like 'homemade' green bean casserole; or sweet potatoes with something other than the yucky marshmallows; a potato gratin; or a kicked up cranberry sauce? That might be a compromise that would fulfill your creative juices, and at the same time make mama happy!
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Old 11-05-2004, 12:41 PM   #5
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I think you're right, Marmalady. I have to keep Mom happy--she's so good to me! And I have come up with some different sides, breads, and desserts (I always make way too much!) so as long as I don't forget peas for my dad, I think we'll all be content. I will brine another time! Thanks everyone!
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Old 11-05-2004, 06:25 PM   #6
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Go with the traditonal turkey for this meal. Then, just for fun, invite everyone over for an impromptu meal, your treat. Serve up a brined and barbecued turkey. There is plenty of advise in past postings to tell you how to do it correctly and achieve amazing results. I have never met anybody that didn't prefer a brined and barbecued turkey to a traditional one, once they tasted it.

And if your mom is anything like most mothers, she will want to know how it's done. You might even play it that you would like to try the technique and would like her assistance. That way, you are giving her the chance to shine, and introduce her to somethng new at the same time.

You can even brine, then roast your turkey in the oven. It will look identicle to the traditional turkey everyone is used to, so they won't have any aprehensions about it, but it will be more succulent, better flavored, and more tender.

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Old 11-05-2004, 08:50 PM   #7
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It's amazing how tied to tradition a lot of people are. I know I am.

You could try talking to mom about her doing something else and judge her reaction. Does she have any specialties she's "known" for? Maybe you could flatter her into bringing the apple pie or green bean casserolem etc.

Of course, then you have dad's preference for mom's turkey. Could you make mom's stuffing on the side and do a brined bird?

Whatever you manage to do, have a great holiday and enjoy your family.
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Old 11-05-2004, 09:24 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Andy M.
It's amazing how tied to tradition a lot of people are. I know I am.
Oh, don't get me started on this. My MIL lost her Mom about 12 years ago. She worships the ground her mother walked on. To this day, you cannot tell my MIL of a "better" way to fix most things, as "this is the way my Mother did it....", and of course, her Mom could do no wrong.

I've pretty much given up on trying to teach my MIL new ways to cook. She isn't interested. But she sure does like what I cook.
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Old 11-05-2004, 09:50 PM   #9
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I think Goodweed has the right idea, as does AndyM in attempting to create a "win-win" situation out of this...

There's no sense in stressing yourself out on Thanksgiving with family pressures and the "putting your Mom down" thing...it'd be smarter to do as Goodweed suggests, and get a good sized chicken, or capon, and "brining" it, together with your Mom, and roasting it in an "impromptu" dinner, and "wondering" aloud with your Mom if "trying" this together on Thanksgiving might not be a bad idea, as sooner or later there'll be the day when she's not there, or is incapable, and this would be a much kinder way of handling that certainty, at it could be fun for the two of you, as well! Why not invite her and your Dad over the night before, that you could work through together, and first claim a "joint success"?

Should you go with this idea, you could both brine and beercan ("tampon, indeed, Audeo!) the "test-chicken" and do your dressing in a pan, if thats your preference...this may further disguise your apparent wish to do the bird yourself from your Mom, and doing an in-bird stuffing would on T-Day would appear a compromise...while retaining the brined bird as a trade-off...

I'd go with a racking of one form or another, as I've written in countless other posts, I advocate using skewers, in order to "flip" the bird, in that unique method, but if you want to do it on the "vegetable floor" and discard the food, its your option...but if it was my sadly departed Mom, she'd be offended at such an act on Thanksgiving...dunno about yours, just a thought...

If you decide to do the stuffing of the "test-chicken" on an "in-bird" note, you might want to try showing the wild side, using the 12 grain bread stuffing method, with boiled and minced liver, giblets, heart, etc., again, as discussed elsewhere, just to show her what wild hairs you can come up with that taste good with peas...in your Dad's case...

Give it some thought...if its not this year, it might be the next one, but you are entitled to express your creativity in your own home and the household you and hubby have built, and your parents will understand that...

Please keep us informed! We'd love to hear how you worked around this and came up with a solution that leaves no "leftovers" in any sense!

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Old 11-06-2004, 05:06 AM   #10
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How do you use the skewers to "flip the bird" ? Double entendre here?

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