My family is pretty amazing. For example, one year for my birthday my parents showed up at our apartment with a deep freezer. Score! Then the next day (which happens to be Christmas Day) they gave us a frozen turkey for our new deep freezer. Double score! We were ecstatic about our new additions. That was the first turkey I ever cooked and the left overs became Evan’s favourite dish, turkey meat pies. The weekend before my future hubby’s birthday dinner just last week, my Gramma stumbled upon a sale on fresh turkeys. She said she just had to pick one up for us. Triple score! That decided what to cook pretty easily.
Looks pretty tasty. Look at all that crispy skin!
We tend to squeeze as many people into our tiny apartment as possible. Add our niece and 2 kitties to the mix and it’s a pretty crowded place but its always good times. Roasting a large piece of meat is a great way to feed lots of people and probably have left overs for the next day (turkey sandwiches, yes please!) plus you look bad ass when you pull a delicious and juicy turkey out of the oven.
As I’ve said in previous posts about turkey, it’s really just a vessel for the stuffing. You can get as creative as you want for your stuffing. Once you learn the basics of stuffing making you’ll be able to put your own twist and flavors into it. My basic stuffing formula is some (or a lot) bacon, cubed bread, onions, garlic, herbs, milk and seasonings. With that being said, I have never made stuffing with just those ingredients but those are the common theme every time I make a stuffing. You really can add what ever you want and as long as you use those ingredients…it should work and taste delicious!
Since we were celebrating Evan’s birthday, I knew that bacon had to be the star. We were out of ground pork and sausage so I thawed 2 pork sirloins and thew them into the food processor. Think outside the box when you are cooking. Just because you don’t have the exact ingredients doesn’t mean you can’t figure out another way.
1 sour dough loaf cubed into 1″ chunks
1 white onion, diced
1/2 head garlic, minced
1 lb ground pork or uncooked sausage
2 cups mushrooms, sliced (they will reduce in size while cooking)
1/2 package bacon, diced
1/2 cup or so milk
Herbs and spices (thyme, basil, oregano, pineapple sage, paprika, salt and pepper)
In a large frying pan or pot, start cooking the bacon on medium heat. When it’s about ½ way done, add the ground pork or sausage and all of your seasonings. While that’s cooking slice up your mushrooms and cube the bread. Put the cubed bread into a large bowl and add the milk so it can soak it up. Once the pork mixture is cooked through, add the mushrooms and a little bit more salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms are cooked you can add it to the bread mixture. Mix well, get your hands dirty! Get in there! Don’t be afraid of food, remember, you’re the one eating it right?
Bacon and pork goin'...my favourite things.
Add some mushrooms for added earthy flavor and texture.
Before you stuff the turkey, season the outside. I like to heavily season it with salt and pepper, and then add whatever spices I used in the stuffing, that way you’ll know that the flavors will complement each other. Stuff the turkey with the stuffing. I added some under the skin in between the legs and thighs, a secret from my Gramma. If you are using a turkey lifter (which I highly recommend) make sure you put it under the turkey before you cook it. Cover with tin foil and throw into a pre heated oven at 350F. Check on it every hour and baste with the juices to keep it moist. For the last hour take the tin foil off so the skin has a chance to crisp up. I used the calculator on the Butterball website to find out how long to cook my turkey for. Be sure to let your turkey rest for a good 10-15 minutes before taking the stuffing out and carving it.
For starters I made mango salsa and guacamole, and for our sides we had a mushroom and green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes and a fresh crisp salad. For dessert I made by request from Evan, red velvet cupcakes with raspberry cream cheese icing. Way too much for one post so stay tuned for chapters 2 and 3 on Evan’s birthday. What a lucky guy.