How to Use this Blog

This blog is designed to be used like a cookbook. I've put tags on each recipe so you can go to the section on that topic just by clicking on the word in the cloud or the list. Some recipes are under more than one category to help you find what you're looking for.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Cook a Turkey

How to Cook a Turkey
Cooking a turkey is one of the most overrated efforts in America. Years ago, housewives with too much time on their hands began doing weird stuff like sewing it together. It doesn’t need that.

There is only one precaution. Remember to check it inside for those little bags of parts. God only knows what they are-liver and hearts and gross stuff. Some people know how to use them but I don’t. You don’t have to know what to do with them, just remember to take them out or you will cut into the turkey at the dinner table to find it and be publicly humiliated - probably in front of your mother-in-law.

The whole process starts at the store when you have to pick one out. I’ve never done any fancy calculations about weight. I always just bought one the same size as all the others. You’re feeding an average size crowd so buy an average turkey. Don’t get one too small or you won’t have enough juice for gravy. Don’t get one too big, either--you don’t have an oven that big and surely you have enough sense not to invite that many people.

Bring it home and wash it. This is not only for cleanliness. You want to be sure to check for all those little bags. Most important, however, is that during the washing of the turkey you get to know it. This is your honored guest for the big meal. His name is probably Tom. Call him by name. I never figured out why people would cook a male turkey named Tom when it is the big breasts they want. Maybe the toms are larger. I always call mine Tom no matter what sex it is.

Introduce Tom to your children. Have him wave his wing. Show the kids how he runs on his drumsticks. Enjoy yourself . This is the last quality time you will have with the children this whole day. This is the last smile they will see on your face. Explain to them that you are going away on a trip and another mother who just looks like you will be here for a day or so. She may say and do some shocking things and her face will get very red while she screams at everyone. Explain that you will be home after she leaves, probably on Saturday.

Here is my recipe for cooking turkey:
Read on the bag how long to cook it and what temperature to use. Stuff an onion and a celery stick up his butt and throw him in the pan. I’m not sure the onion and celery help the turkey but it makes the room smell nice. Do NOT cover the pan. Rub a little margarine on the top. Salt and pepper. Make a mental note of the time. Put it in the oven. Go away and forget about it. Turkeys have been doing this for years. They know what to do.

Cherry Pie

When Emily married Steve Carrell she got three things that changed my life forever: Sarah Elizabeth Carrell arrived on May 31, 1999 and Elisabeth June Carrell followed on May 3 of 2001. But the unexpected bonus was the cherry pie recipe she got from Steve's mother. I have adapted it only slightly because, as you come to understand our family in the future you will understand that the Els family always doubles the amount of extracts and other flavor enhancing additives.

This pie has ended up being the bedrock of our family gatherings. It fits any occasion: Fourth of July, birthdays, Easter, Halloween-- you name it.

Nancy Carrell always makes her pie crust by hand. I love Nancy and all that but life is too short and my people aren't that discriminating. I use a package of the rolled ready made crust you find in the refrigerator case of the store.

First, run to the store and buy two cans of Red Tart Cherries. NOT the pie filling cherry. That stuff is gross and you're here looking for the good recipe. I may take shortcuts on pie crust but never on what goes into the pie. I understand that Nancy sometimes used real fresh cherries and that's great if you can get them.

You might have to look in the canned fruit section. If you can't find it there or in the cake mix section--well, I hate to tell you this, but it sometimes happens.........the store might be out of Red Tart Cherries. And if they are out of stock then you've waited too late and you are screwed. Cherry pie won't happen today. Go to another recipe.

Cherry Pie

start oven at 375 degrees

drain two cans of Red Tart Cherries and add to bowl
mix in
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
LOTS of Almond extract--1 or 2 tablespoons (not teaspoons, our family doesn't do anything in teaspoons)

pour into the bottom crust and add the top, crimping the edges

I paint the top with egg wash (one egg mixed well) to make it glisten. Nancy uses cinnamon and sugar.

Ten minutes after you put the pie into the oven reduce the temperature to 350.
THIS IS IMPORTANT--otherwise, you'll have a burnt pie on your hands.

Cook for another 50 minutes at 350

Pecan Pie

My grandmother was famous for her pecan pies.  When I inherited her recipe I realized it was just like all the standard pecan pie recipes but with one important difference.  Don't listen to them when they tell you how many pecans to use. 

Most recipes will say use a cup of pecans or use a cup and a half or whatever.  I don't measure.  Get that much pecans  plus a little more---and chop them up and have them ready. 

Set the oven to 350 degrees.  Use one of those ready made crusts if you're not confident making our own.  Make the filling for the pie:

1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup of corn syrup
3 slightly beaten eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
maybe some bourbon

Now, here's the key move that makes your pie different from everyone else's:

Fill the crust with chopped pecans first (stop just a little bit short of the top of the crust)

Then add the filling.  Give it a little shake to let the air bubbles escape. You'll have filling left and you could make another pie or throw it away.

It's a Pecan pie, not a Filling pie.

Bake for maybe an hour until the filling has set.  Let it cool for a couple of hours.