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Light Turkey
These days, when both parents work outside the home, it can be a burden to make turkey with all of the fixings.† In addition, your family may have dietary goals including reducing your saturated fat intake.† Roasting a turkey with stuffing and gravy is a great way to celebrate the holidays when youíre expecting a large number of people for dinner, but if itís just the immediate family, you may wish to have fewer leftovers and items on your menu.
Turkey without Stuffing
 

The solution to the problem is to roast your turkey without stuffing and to serve it without gravy.† These are two areas that will reduce the overall proportion of fat in the meal.† You can still have your cranberry sauce,† mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, and never miss the other items, or else save them for a later holiday. Moreover, you may find that you have time to make your own home made cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries!

If you chose to roast a turkey or a chicken every Sunday night of the year with stuffing and pan gravy, itís safe to guess that you would probably gain much more than the typical 3-5 pounds per year as you get older.† You might even gain that much per month!

Without the stuffing, your turkey will be ready sooner and you will have less chance of food poisoning as well.† People who love turkey soup will sometimes buy an extra turkeyóif you love turkey sandwiches, you might consider this as well, especially if you find turkeys at a special price.† Many people find turkey stock more delicious than any other kind, and it canít be purchased at the supermarket.

To defrost a frozen turkey, you can place it in a sink of cold water with the packaging still on, or you can leave it in the refrigerator for a day or two.

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To prepare a turkey without stuffing, remove the neck, liver, and gizzard from the cavities and wash the turkey inside and out with cold water.† Dry it with paper towels and rub with peanut oil or another oil with a high smoke point.† If you find that the turkey is still frozen inside, you can marinate it in the refrigerator while it continues to thaw.† Place the turkey in a large freezer bag with herbs and place it in your meat keeper for some hours.† You can rub the turkey with a mixture of oil, herbs, and a little balsamic vinegar, sneaking the marinade under the skin as well.† When the turkey is ready to roast, allow it to warm up to room temperature on the kitchen counter.† You can place more herbs, such as sprigs of rosemary or parsley, and/or fruit, such as an orange or apple, inside the cavity. Tuck in the legs or tie them with twine, as well as the wings, to prevent overcooking.
 

You can cook the turkey in a roaster with a rack or in a turkey roaster and cook it without the lid on, if itís a smaller bird.† For a larger bird, you may wish to remove the roaster lid an hour before itís done, to encourage browning.† Basting the turkey is optionalóyou may find itís not necessary.† If you have an injector, you can insert butter or oil into the dry areas, such as the breasts.

Set your oven temperature to 425° F to preheat the oven.† Place the turkey in the middle of the oven at 425° F to sear it; after 10 minutes, you may reduce the temperature to 325° F.† The internal temperature should reach 180° F; test it by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.

Remove the turkey from the oven and cool on a wire rack tented with foil: cover with tinfoil and press the foil around the turkey.† Choose a wire rack with good clearance for air circulation under the bird; this prevents excessive moisture loss.

If you choose instead to stuff your turkey, you need roughly one slice of bread for each 2 pounds of turkey, assuming youíre using a commercial loaf of whole wheat bread, plus a couple extra slices for good measure.† Whole wheat bread will give the dressing extra flavor.† Dry the bread a day ahead of time on a wire rack, or dry in the oven a few hours before itís needed.† The bread should be torn or sliced into cubes the size of croutons.† You can add egg, milk, and butter to your bread, some minced shallot or onion, and generous amounts of sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and savory, and of course salt and pepper.† If you wish, add some chopped nuts such as pecans or almonds.

When deciding what to serve to drink with your meal, consider that some beverages acquire a metallic taste when paired with turkey. Some white wines and even beer can have this effect. The best choice is one of the lighter red wines, such as a Rioja or a Merlot: these won't overpower the turkey and won't create a metallic taste. The combination of a good red wine, turkey, and cranberry sauce can't quite be described!
The basic recipe for Cranberry Sauce is very simple:

1 lb fresh or frozen cranberries

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

2 tsp orange zest

This recipe will make a lot of sauce, so making half would work for a small number of people; however, the sauce does keep well and could be frozen, so you may prefer to make a large amount and be sure that you have enough, especially if your family loves cranberries.

Variations on this recipe include replacing the water with orange juice or red wine. You can use the zest from a tangerine for your Christmas cranberry sauce and the flavor will be special and distinctive. In addition, try adding a small amount of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Dissolve the sugar in the liquid in a medium saucepan on the stove top. Bring the water to a simmer and add the berries. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 5 minutes without stirring, or until the berries are translucent. This part of the process may remind you of popping popcorn, because the berries will pop! Be careful not to put your face near the sauce when you remove the lid. Remove from heat and stir in the zest.

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