Recipe Thursday: My Dad’s Turkey and Dressing

Thanksgiving is coming up! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It was one of my dad’s favorites too.

Now, on the subject of turkey, in my circles I’ve noticed two main comments around turkey: 

  1. I don’t really care for turkey—it’s too dry.
  2. No, I’ve found the perfect way to make turkey. This is the only way to make it!

Anybody with me on this? But, unless you’ve had my dad’s turkey and your perfect way is his way, then I’m going to have to disagree with you 😉 My dad loved turkey and dressing so much that when he was a bachelor, he used to make the full Thanksgiving meal for himself all throughout the year. He truly mastered it. So many amazing Thanksgiving memories with him and our family every year. 

And, so special, Dad once wrote out in detail the way he made the turkey for our dear friend Kristi. Now we have the recipe just the way he did it, in his own words. I’ve added some of my own notes to the bottom, which I made when my lovely friend Jodie made her turkey this way a few years ago.  

And now, I would have to say, my sister, Nathan and I have also mastered the turkey. Molly can do it all by herself! And she handles the lovely table arrangements.

Also, another note, you must enjoy this recipe with TONS of cranberry sauce!

And we’ve also enjoyed adding the Baker favorites to our traditional Thanksgiving, as we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving together many times since our marriage! Maybe we’ll share those recipes later! 🙂

I hope you enjoy it! We do every year!

From Dad: 

I BUY A 20 POUND FROZEN BUTTER BALL TURKEY. IT TAKES ABOUT 2-3 DAYS TO THAW OUT .

TAKE OUT THE HEART, NECK AND LIVER AND COOK IN A LARGE POT UNTIL SOFT AND PUT THEM IN THE REFRIDGEATOR OVER NIGHT.

I COOK THE BIRD ON 180 DEGREES OVERNIGHT FROM 11 PM TO 7AM.

I PEEL 2 LARGE SWEET ONIONS AND PUT THEM IN THE TURKEY RIB CAGE.

I CUT UP 2 STICKS BUTTER AND STICK THEM IN ALL THE SKIN FLAPS AND UNDER THE WINGS AND LEGS.

I SPRINKLE SALT AND PEPPER, POULTRY SEASONING ALL OVER THE BIRD. THE INGREDIENTS ARE: THYME, SAGE, MARJORAM, ROSEMARY, BLACK PEPPER AND NUTMEG.

NEXT I DOUBLE WRAP THE BIRD IN 2 LAYERS OF HEAVY DUTY FOIL.

I FOLD  2 MORE SHEETS OF FOIL TOGETHER AND PUT IT IN THE BOTTOM OF THE COOKING PAN. 

PLACE THE WRAPED UP TURKEY, BREAST DOWN, ON THE PAN, WRAP THE  2 FOIL SHEETS AROUND THE TURKEY AND PUSH IT DOWN NICE AND TIGHT, ADD 1 MORE SHEET OF FOIL OVER  THE TURKEY THE PUSH DOWN TIGHT.

(YOU PROBOBLY THINK I HAVE A LOT OF REYNOLDS WRAP STOCK IN MY  401K,  BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO SAVE ALL THE  TURKEY BROTH AND MELTED BUTTER AS IT IS USED  IN EVERY PART OF THIS MEAL, FROM GRAVY TO DRESSING.

IF EVERTHING WORKS OUT THE TURKEY WILL BE FULLY COOKED AND SITTING IN 3 TO 5 INCHES OF GOLDEN STOCK BY MORNING.  POUR THE BROTH INTO A  LARGE BOWL AND COVER.

NOW FOR THE DRESSING.

I USE 1 BAG OF SEASONED CROUTONS AND 1 BAG OF CORNBREAD CROUTONS.

4 TO 6 STALKS OF CELERY CHOPPED 1/8” TO 1/4” SATAUED WITH THE COOKED ONION FROM THE BIRD CUT UP

TAKE ALL OF THE MEAT OFF  THE TURKEY NECK, CUT UP THE LIVER AND HEART, PUT ALL OF THIS IN THE BLENDER ALONG WITH SOME BROTH AND PURREE IT. THIS LOOKS AWFUL BUT IT GIVES A GOOD FLAVOR TO THE DRESING.

PUT THE 2 BAGS OF CRUTONS IN A PAN AND ADD SOME BROTH

THE ONIONS AND CELERY AND THE PUREED MIXTURE AND STIR AROUND

AND ADD 2 TO 3 CANS OF CRÈME OF CELERY SOUP.

ADD POULTRY SEASONING AROUND TO TASTE. THE DRESSING SHOULD BE FAIRLY WET.

COOK IN THE OVEN UNTIL THE TOP IS BROWN AND CRUNCHY AND THE BOTTOM IS SOFT BUT NOT WET,

 LET ME KNOW HOW IT ALL TURNS OUT!

From Tessa: 

For the poultry seasoning, I just use poultry seasoning from the store—I think he included the list of ingredients in case poultry seasoning wasn’t available.

The goal is 180 for 8 hrs. You’ll want a poultry thermometer to plunge in in the morning just to be sure it’s done. We have typically pulled it out then, drained out much of the broth (for dressing, gravy, etc.), but left the turkeys wrapped in the foil for most of the day while we do other cooking. Sometimes we’ve put them back in for a warm up later on—right before serving. I think as a family we’re used to eating the turkey at room temp, and we don’t mind that (since it’s cooked), but if you want it hot you’ll want to reserve time at the end for putting them back in—just be aware when you put them back in that that can dry them out.

We don’t put our stuffing in the turkey, so we don’t stuff them and then put them back in—but we need the broth for the stuffing, so we drain it out and then close up the foil. Sometimes if you’ve done the foil well you can poke a small hole near the bottom and pour out a lot of broth without even opening up the turkey, and I usually do the poultry thermometer through the foil, so as to keep the turkey sealed for warmth.

The foil is really important. You’ll want to put two pieces side-by-side and fold them together (connecting them on the long side, sort of like a hem), and lay that in the bottom. Then put the turkey on that (in a casserole dish or on a baker or something). Then, do the same thing again (two pieces, folded with a hem), and lay that over the top, then connect the top section and bottom section with the same kind of hem . . .  does that make sense? The foil is really important for making lots of broth and keeping the meat moist—because turkey has such a tendency to be dry.

Good luck!

Recipe Thursdays: Chicken Pot Pie

This is one of those recipes that has evolved over time. It started with a turkey pot pie recipe from my friend and first Mada roommate Melody–thanks Melody! But we always used chicken. Hers had a biscuit topping, which was tasty, and then a few years ago I switched to a pie crust top and bottom. I also switched to that canned veggie assortment of peas and carrots . . . just to make life easier! But the main thing about this recipe is that it’s very forgiving!! It’s one of those you can use at the end of the week to get rid of extra veggies—that’s one of the reasons I love it! Here’s what I do:

Ingredients – Filling:

  • Five garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 chicken breast or pack of tenders
  • 2 T olive oil
  • any extra chopped, fresh veggies you want to use
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth (or water and bullion cubes)
  • ½ cup sour cream (or ½ cup heavy whipping cream + ½ T vinegar)
  • ¼ cup corn starch

Directions – Filling:

  1. Chop the garlic and onion, and begin to sauté it in a big pot with the oil. 
  2. After a minute or two, lay the chicken breast or tenders in the pot and pan fry them.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper, a chicken bouillon cube, and any spices you like. 
  4. Be ready to add oil or a bit of water to make sure nothing burns.
  5. Break up the chicken as it cooks. 
  6. Add any other fresh vegetables you’re including: chopped green beans, fresh carrots, chopped potatoes, chopped zucchini. 
  7. Once the chicken is cooked through and browned just a bit, add about two cups of water (and maybe another bouillon cube) or chicken broth. 
  8. Add the canned carrots and peas.
  9. Take ½ a cup of the hot broth out and mix in ¼ cup of cornstarch, and then mix back into the pot. 
  10. Mix ½ a cup of sour cream into the pot. 
  11. Turn off the stove and add the mixture to the pie crust in the casserole dish. 

Then, here’s the pie crust recipe I use. I almost always have salted butter, so then I just leave out the teaspoon of salt. Make the crust sometime during the day and then have the two “disks”—the dough balls of the pie crusts—in the fridge. 

Once I have the filling made, I roll out one disk, press it into the bottom of a 9×9 casserole dish, and put it in the oven at 190 C. After about 10 minutes, I pull the casserole dish out, spoon in the filling, and then roll out the other disk and lay it on top. Then I put it all back in the over for another 30 minutes or so. Sometimes I put on the top grill for a few minutes at the end to brown the top.

This is one of our favorites! Enjoy!

Recipe Thursdays: Lasary

Lots of times when visiting Malagasy families for a meal, friends have served us this delicious mixture of raw, chopped tomatoes, onions, carrots and cucumbers soaked in what tasted like a vinaigrette-style dressing. It’s delicious! And at the little hotel we where we stay near the Mahafaly villages, they serve this as a side along with French fries. You would be amazed how incredible double-fried French fries taste with tangy cucumbers and carrots spread on top. So good. 

Anyways, silly me, I assumed this salad was made simply by soaking the chopped veggies in vinegar. And I proceeded to do that and serve it to several Malagasy families. Poor them! As I’ve mentioned, my tolerance for sour is very high, but I’m sure the vinegar-only dish was a bit of a jolt for someone used to the real thing! Thankfully, a couple of dear Malagasy friends—Narindra and Chantal—helped me out. They explained that, no, actually the dressing is a combination of vinegar, salt, sugar and oil. And, no, the veggies really don’t need to be soaked overnight—oops, again!  

Now, thanks to Narindra’s and Chantal’s help, I believe I have nearly mastered the salad. Here’s what I do. Enjoy! 

– enough cucumbers peeled and thinly sliced to make 2-3 rows short-ways in a casserole dish (usually 2-3 small cucumbers)
– enough tomatoes sliced to make 2 rows (4 tomatoes)
– enough carrots peeled and grated for 2 rows (2 carrots)
– 2 small onions thinly sliced

Slice onions into a small bowl. 
Add 2 tsp salt, 1 TBS sugar, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 TBS olive oil. Stir. Adjust to taste. Set aside for several hours.

Prepare other fruits and vegetables into a casserole dish. Refrigerate. 

After a few hours, stir onion mixture again and pour over other vegetables. You can serve immediately or refrigerate further.

Recipe Thursdays: Orange Pie

My dear friend Ashley and her mom gave me this recipe years ago, and it has become Nathan’s favorite pie for his birthday. He loves that it’s so light and cool—especially when we’re in the States on his birthday and it’s hot. This year, we’ve been enjoying the cool weather in Madagascar so much that he asked for a different dessert for his birthday: coconut cream cake. Yum!! 

But still, these Dreamsicle-reminiscent pies are a family favorite! We have to use lots of substitutions when we make this here in Madagascar: no pre-made cool whip, no sour cream, no canned mandarins, no Tang. But, as long as I bring home plenty of heavy whipping cream it all works out! 

The other trick is to be sure to puree the whole oranges I use. One year I didn’t and we all had achy teeth from biting into frozen orange slices! And then of course there was the year I WAYYYY overdid the Tang substitute I was using. I’ve got a very high threshold for sourness, but everyone else eating the pie was struggling 😉 Live and learn, right? 😉 

Hope you all enjoy this fluffy, refreshing pie! 

Sissy and Ashley Grisham’s Mandarin Orange Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 Graham Cracker crusts
  • 1 can Eagle Brand (sweetened condensed milk)
  • 1 can Mandarin orange sections
  • 1/4 cup orange instant breakfast drink (like Tang)
  • 1 16 oz container sour cream
  • 1 8 oz container cool whip

Directions:

  1. Mix Eagle Brand and instant orange breakfast drink powder.
  2. Add orange sections.
  3. Whip with wire wink to break up and incorporate sections–leave tiny bits.
  4. Add sour cream and softened cool whip.
  5. Pour into crusts and chill.
  6. Garnish with several reserved Mandarin orange sections.

Recipe Thursdays: AOM Hamburgers

Hamburgers are definitely a kind of comfort / homey food for us here in Madagascar. We look forward to trips to South Africa or America to enjoy burgers, and on several occasions hamburgers have been our “last meal” in the USA before flying back to Mada. 

Most of the beef in Madagascar is zebu meat, which is a different breed of cow than we’re used to in the States. The flavor has taken us a while to get used to, and especially for a hamburger, it can be tough to get that juicy, familiar flavor we’re looking for. Especially for Nathan, the hamburger issue has been an ongoing challenge of life in Madagascar 😉 

But then, one day listening to the Art of Manliness podcast, all that changed. AOM posted a hamburger recipe from American author Earnest Hemingway. Nathan tried it—with some minor variations—and it was incredible!! Meanwhile, our local grocery store started carrying fluffy, normal-sized buns, and sliced gouda cheese . . . also critical elements of the hamburger experience. Now, hamburgers are a regular part of our weekly meal plan, along with homemade French fries and lasary, a local dish of chopped raw veggies in a vinegar-based dressing. I’ll post a recipe for that next time around! 🙂

If you want an incredibly savory hamburger, you should definitely try these Earnest Hemingway hamburgers. Feel free to adapt the recipe with various flavors of chutney, and experiment with different spices—we do! Enjoy!  

Recipe Thursday: French Bread

I’ve always been intimidated by homemade breadmaking. I can do all the breakfast breads—you know, banana bread, zucchini bread, chocolate chip pumpkin bread—love all those! But anything involving yeast makes me super nervous.

However, a friend linked to this French bread recipe on her Facebook, and I decided to try it out. It’s delicious!! And so easy! This recipe is awesome—though we have left off the egg on top after the first time around. 

The best part is that Chyella can help me. She helps with all the ingredient-adding and mixing, and then at the end she gets her own tiny loaf that she gets to make her own “cuts” in. It’s been a fun project especially during the COVID-19 shutdowns!

Recipe Thursday: Big Cookie

For most of our marriage, Nathan has been encouraging us as a family to do a Sabbath—to set aside a day for worship and rest. I’ve struggled with this . . . we’re busy, and I’ve always felt that I can’t just give up a whole day of checking things off my endless lists. Sometimes I’ve agreed to do it . . . only to fill the “Sabbath” day with other kinds of projects I normally don’t have time to do, much to Nathan’s frustration. 

Recently, I was listening to Jennie Allen’s podcast and an interview she did last fall with John Mark Comer. He has a recent book—The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. During the podcast, they talked about how the Cromer family practices Sabbath. They set aside a whole day for rest, worship and fun, beginning with a family dinner and—get this—an enormous cookie! That’s right—they take cookie dough and fill a cast-iron skillet, cook it in the oven, then dump it out with ice cream in the middle of their table. They all share it as they tell their highs and lows for the week.  

When I heard this podcast, I suddenly had a new understanding—so that’s what Sabbath is all about?? Taking time to rest and truly enjoy God and His blessings? To be honest, though, the main thing I heard was BIG COOKIE! I can get behind a big cookie in a cast-iron skillet! 

With the restrictions of COVID-19, we decided if we were ever going to be able to pull off a real Sabbath, now was the time to try. We’ve enjoyed the last month or so of setting aside a day for rest, for family fun, family worship, and, of course, making and enjoying the big cookie together!

This is the recipe we’ve been using, with some variation:

  • We use our famous, dark Madagascar Robert chocolate bars cut into chunks.
  • We don’t have any brown sugar, so we do all white except for the extra 2 tablespoons we use local honey.
  • We use local Madagascar vanilla extract we’ve made ourselves! 
  • We leave off the flaky sea salt at the end.

Hope you enjoy—both a huge cookie and the rest God created us to need in Him!