Turkey Day

Every year after Thanksgiving and Christmas I hit the stores looking for the holiday meats that have been marked down. Last Friday I went to Kroger looking for marked down fresh turkey. Normally I would buy a turkey that is .25 a pound or less, but this year we are having to do things differently. Due to dietary restrictions we aren’t able to buy the frozen turkey because it is injected with all types of things before they freeze them. So, from now on it’s fresh for us.

When I went to the store to buy my turkeys they only had 22 pounders left. They were some huge birds! I bought two of them planning on roasting, carving and putting them in small portions in the freezer. We’ll use the meat for soups, salads, and casseroles. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to them for a couple of days and put them on ice in a large ice chest. I use my ice chests a lot during the holiday season since my refrigerator is usually packed. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of doing that, it has sure been a lifesaver since I started doing it.

I bought my two disposable roasting pans Monday and was ready to roast on Tuesday. I usually use my table top roaster for my turkeys (can’t say how much I love that appliance!) but these birds wouldn’t fit in it. Tuesday was going to be turkey day! I was ready, and I had a plan. I was going to roast the turkeys one at a time in the oven because I didn’t think there was any way to fit them both in at the same time. I wasn’t injecting them because I was going to be using the meat in different ways. It was going to be simple; rinse the birds, throw them in the pan and roast them.

I should know by now that simple doesn’t exist in my house. I am the type of person who always hopes for the best, and thinks things are going to run smoothly, I don’t know why I am always surprised when they don’t. You would think I would have learned by now. Well, on turkey day who do you think awoke with a stomach bug? If you guessed me, you’d be right. On top of me being sick, Caroline also had a stomach bug an Hannah is suffering with a major migraine which left Rachel to run the house and cook two turkeys. Did I mention that I am the only one in the house to have ever roasted a turkey? As I was getting back into the bed about to pass out the thought came to me that it was turkey day and I had two humongous turkeys that were going to take about 8 hours of cooking. The idea of sticking my hand inside a naked, dead, & cold (which is a greater reminder of its lack of life) bird was enough to turn my stomach, not that it wasn’t already doing somersaults.

When I told Rachel my dilemma she cheerfully told me that she would take care of it. I was in that state of half-awake, half-passing out when I gave her directions as to how to cook the turkeys. I am sure I was quite clear in those directions, they made perfect sense to me. After I awoke from my coma to smells of turkey wafting in the air, I walked stumbled into the kitchen to check on the turkey. Much to my surprise I found two turkeys in roasting pans crammed into the oven. I asked Rachel how she had prepared them because they looked different than anything I had done before. She told me that she had adapted a dry brining method we had heard about from a friend. She separated the skin from the birds and rubbed a mixture of olive oil and sea salt generously all over the bird. On top of the skin she rubbed a little more of that mixture and more oil on them to make them crispy. She cooked them breast down, which allows all of the juices to run into the breast, and slow roasted them at 325 (F). The only problem with cooking them breast down is that the skin isn’t crispy on the breast. You can alleviate that by flipping the bird and cooking it breast side up for the last 45 minutes or so. For me, I would rather the juicy meat and I don’t worry about the skin. Besides, who wants to try to flip two hot 22 pound turkeys?!

We were rather dubious at first, thinking that the meat was going to be too salty. Once we carved the bird and tasted it, all fears were gone. Those were the best turkeys we have ever tasted! It was all moist and juicy and had just the right amount of saltiness to it. I don’t have pictures to share, I wasn’t up to taking any last night, and I sure wish I could give you a taste through your monitor, but since I can’t, you are just going to have to trust me.

Ground Turkey Soup

Today is a cold and blustery day in Houston with snow threatening to start falling any minute. One of my favorite things on a cold day is a big bowl of steamy hot soup. We recently began doing Weight Watchers Points Plus and it has caused me to be very conscious of everything I eat. The wonderful thing about this soup is that is friendly to my waist as well as being friendly to my wallet. If you are doing WW the points value for this soup is 2 per cup. Now, the cornbread I love to eat with soup is another thing completely. We put our recipe into the calculator that WW has online, and it was a whopping 7 points per piece. I will have to decide if I am willing to part with that many points for a piece of cornbread.

Ground Turkey Soup

1 pound of ground turkey breast
4 cups 99% fat free beef stock
16 cups of water
1 6oz can of tomato paste
2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of marjoram
2 tsp of Tiger Dust (or Cajun seasoning of your preference)
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 Tbsp dried minced onion, or 1 onion chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced

Brown the ground turkey (there should be no fat to drain if you use the ground breast, but if you use another meat be sure to drain off any fat). Add all other ingredients to the pot, except potatoes and carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 3 hours (you can do it for less, but the longer it simmers the better the flavor). 45 minutes before you want to serve the soup increase the temperature and when it begins to boil add the potatoes and carrots. Once the potatoes and carrots are tender, serve and enjoy.

White Bean Soup With Smoked Turkey

Our family loves beans. To some that seems to be odd. One day when I was in Sam’s buying a 10 lb bag of pinto beans for making homemade re-fried beans, I ran into a friend. She made a comment about feeling sorry for us because we “have” to eat beans. I thought it was funny, because we don’t have to eat beans, we like them and enjoy eating them.

I think my love of beans developed when I was a child. My grandparents had a 52 acre farm about 30 minutes away from where we lived and on weekends we would go to visit. Many a day was spent sitting under a shade tree shelling peas, or snapping beans. There is nothing quite like a lunch made of fresh purple hull peas with homemade chow chow, sweet corn and cornbread. After we were married and moved to south Louisiana, our love for beans grew with the addition of Red Beans and rice and White beans.

This soup recipe is one that I created several years ago. It is super simple and very satisfying. I must warn you that I cook beans a little differently. I wasn’t taught to cook them (the right way) and so when I began cooking, I would just throw everything in the pot and cook them until they were done. What may have started out as a mistake turned out well. I believe that cooking them this way infuses the beans with a great amount of flavor. I will occasionally do a quick soak by putting only the beans in water, bringing them to a boil, turning off the heat, covering them and then letting them sit for an hour. After they have soaked for an hour I will then dump everything else in and start cooking them.

I would love to do a soup recipe swap with everyone, so please leave your favorite soup recipe in the comment section.

White Bean Soup with Smoked Turkey

2 lbs. Great Northern Beans, rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning (this is an herb based seasoning blend, not salt based)
1 tsp. of Tony’s
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
1 smoked turkey wing (I found mine near the ham at Wal-mart)
water

Put all ingredients into a stock pot and cover with a couple of inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Cook until beans are tender(this took about 3 1/2 hours), making sure to keep about an inch of water over the beans. Before serving remove meat from bones; discarding bones and skin. Serve with cornbread. This soup will also freeze well. For a family of 7 we had leftovers, for a smaller family, this would give you a couple of frozen meals.