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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Are we having turkey (insert my nephew's voice)?

The first week of January, after just moving to the same state as Jo 4 months earlier, I entered my sister's house and my then 6 year old nephew threw himself onto the floor hollering, "Oh no, are we having turkey?!?" We laughed until our sides ached, as we realized throughout November and December, every time we had gathered together, a turkey was the guest of honor, as we gave thanks and filled our bellies.  (Although, not little man's favorite food--can you tell?).

There is more than one way to skin a cat cook a turkey!

If your family is ANYTHING like ours and you have to attend multiple holiday gatherings, try to mix it up a little by preparing a turkey in a new way.  Scared to try a new recipe and afraid you will mess it up?  Here are some savvy tips learned from our mistakes...(DOH...I guess I should have changed names to protect the innocent).

I, Shelley, made my famous Spiced Turkey for Thanksgiving one year. Not only does this turkey recipe produce a very moist and delicious bird, but because of its secret ingredient, while deglazing the drippings, it produces a succulent gravy. What is this secret ingredient? Apple cider.

The year my first son was born, I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for my family and 3 other families. As many of you have discovered (or will discover) as the hostess, you are usually last to sit down to eat. This was the first time these guests would taste this recipe. All I could talk about was the amazing gravy that is produced and how they would never forget this dinner. I soon discovered I was right, but not for the reason I boasted about.

All the guests sat down to enjoy the meal, slathered their plates with the famous gravy (turkey, potatoes, stuffing) and dug in. From the kitchen, I yelled, "How is it?" . . . "Great!" "Fantastic!" and "Delicious!"

I finished in the kitchen, sat down, made my plate, and poured the gravy. As I take my first bite, I couldn't help but spit it out. I take all the plates away, and ask, "How could you eat this?" What was the fatal mistake? (FYI, I blame mommy brain, as my son was not quite 2 months old yet.) I used apple cider vinegar and not apple cider. In a panic I call up my southern sister and this was her tip (and now our tip to you)...

TIP FOR YOU, the Savvy Mom:
As Jo explained to me, in the south "we fry our turkeys, so there are no drippin's" (hear her accent?). Jo (and now I) always has a packet of turkey gravy mix on hand (99¢ at Kroger). But don't just follow the directions on the back, use Jo's tip, and no one will know the difference!

The packet calls for 1 cup of water. Here is your substitute: cook 1/2 cup of white wine until it reduces to 1/4 cup. Combine the 1/4 cup of reduced wine with 3/4 cup of chicken broth (canned works perfect). Then follow the packet directions. So whether you fry your turkey, ruin your gravy, or have turkey takeout left over from the restaurant (don't laugh, our mom did this our entire life) you will have a succulent gravy, from an envelope.

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