Turkey Talk II

So, in continuing on with our feast, let's talk turkey. And stuffing. And gravy. Now, to feed the 30+ people who will be swarming the house on Thursday my grandma gets 3 turkeys, about 22 lbs each. Yes, people you read that right, 66 stinking pounds of turkey. Oh my, oh my!

Honestly, we don't do much to the turkey at all. My grandma gets them fresh on Wed and Thursday morning puts a little olive oil or butter on them and perhaps some salt and pepper and lets them go all day in the ovens. (Yes, ovens. She, a few years ago, purchased another oven for her basement, solely for the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. Crazy!) We don't stuff it. Just baste it every so often, cooking it at a lower temp for a little longer to keep it moist and tender.

Gravy, is fairly simple and I have yet to figure out why more people don't make their own. I have two ways of doing it. Most often I take juices from the meat, put them in a saucepan to boil. I will add some seasoning, usually just a bit of salt and pepper, sometimes herbs. With gravy, I like it to stay true to the flavor of the meat and complement it, rather than add a new flavor in, but to each his own. I then mix some cornstarch and water together, about a tablespoon and slowly whisk that in. Testing the taste and adjusting as needed. Usually you can just boil that until preferred thickness and you're good to go.

Another way is to start a roux by melting a little butter, adding flour then slowly adding the meat juices, whisking the entire time. If it's too thick, add more meat juices, or broth/stock. If it's too thin you adjust with cornstarch or flour very slowly, checking the taste each time. Always whisking!

Stuffing...that's an interesting one. It's tricky to get the texture right. We used to use seasoned stuffing bread, torn up; but that became very doughy and sticky more often than not. So, now we use the stuffing bread croutons. (Don't judge--us Italians add in cooked ground sausage, and chopped chicken gizzards. It's a secret, only a few in the family really know what's in it. We just call it "grandma martino's recipe". It adds an oomph and is delish, just chew and don't ask questions!!) Chopped celery and onion cook until soft in a pan with gobs of butter. They are added to the stuffing with parsley--lots! Garlic, salt, pepper, sage and I am trying to remember what else. The tricky part is adding the hot broth/stock to the croutons, constantly stirring, so that it's just wet, not drowned. If it's too wet, it becomes like glue and no one wants to eat it. If it's too dry, you're just eating salad croutons then! But if it is too wet, throw it on a baking sheet and bake or broil it for a few minutes to dry it out.

I realize I didn't type this stuff out with exact measurements, and now I realize why. My grandma doesn't use them either! I never measure what I cook, i use my eyes and my tongue and that's exactly how she cooks. So does my mother, but she also turns off her sense of smell and lets it burn ha! So, I can be more specific if someone wants me too. The other thing is that we cook so much food for a large number of people that it takes too long to quadruple a recipe three times!

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