Through the Kitchen Window

Just recently I was thrilled by a feedback response to one of my columns. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m always thrilled to get feedback from our readers. First because it means someone is actually reading us and second because it means, to me at any rate, that I’ve tweaked your interest and curiosity enough to inspire you to take the time to stop what you’re doing and write to me.

That being said, this particular piece of feedback was from an idol of mine. And I don’t exaggerate here. In March 2002 I wrote a column on soups and sandwiches and I mentioned a lady I used to watch religiously each morning while the kids were growing up. Imagine my surprise when I opened the feedback section not long ago and found a letter from her!! That’s right, from Ruth Fremes the lady behind the program What’s Cooking when it aired on CTV here in Canada.

Seems she’s in the US now. In California to be exact and she’s a writer (another dream of mine). She’s written a book about a disorder she’s developed called Sjogren’s Disorder (an autoimmune disorder) and she’s still cooking but only for two now she says. I was thrilled to hear from her and glad to know she’s doing well.

Christmas . . .

And I’m the ChristmasLadee . . .

Over the course of the next couple of weekends I’m getting the outside of the house ready for Christmas and will move to the interior once Santa arrives in Toronto -- November 15th this year.

I’m deep in Advent calendar plans, looking for the perfect little something for the kids to “find” and working on my rhyming clues already too. I’ve started to think about what to do about our table gifts this year too.

The past couple of years have been up and down for us in terms of financial circumstances, but this Christmas season finds me gainfully employed again and thinking about those who are less fortunate than me. I’ll be looking into sharing our Christmas in some way with others, whether it is someone who has no family to share it with or someone who has far less than we do. I urge you all to do something to share your good fortune with someone not as fortunate. No matter how little we think we have, there’s someone who looks at us and thinks we have the world. This Christmas, let’s all make a special effort to share our blessings.

Marina is home this year too, so my house is replete with the smells of Christmas cookies and other goodies. She’s already started with her special shortbreads, gingerbread, and cream cheese crescent cookies filled with caramel, nuts, chocolate and/or raspberry jam.

We have a 26 pound bird in the freezer -- my dear friend Diana raises simply the best turkeys in existence and each year at Thanksgiving I get two of them -- and I’m wondering this year about deep frying it, but knowing me, I’ll likely stick to my old reliable roasting method.

Which brings me to this column. I’m always on the look out for new fool proof turkey methods and I encourage you, my readers to let me in on your best kept, handed down for generations, secret of tasty tender turkey. Send me your recipe (or post it in the form at the bottom of the page) and in return, I’ll post mine below. There’s always something we can learn from one another.

Roxx’s Roast Turkey

I usually do a huge bird, over 25 pounds, sometimes as big as 30 pounds or more. LadyDi always makes sure I have one of her biggest turkeys.
  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 2 large potatoes diced
  • sliced mushrooms to taste -- I usually use an assortment of mushrooms and probably about two pounds all together
  • Butter -- divided
  • 2 handfuls rice -- see below
  • Chicken stock
  • Bread crumbs
  • Seasonings as desired -- salt, pepper, cayenne, etc.
  • 1 large turkey (25-30 lbs.)

I start by sautéing the bacon, removing it with a slotted spoon and then allowing the onion and shallots to soften in the bacon fat. Once they’re done, I remove them as well and brown the potatoes, then the mushrooms.

In the same pan, I’ll melt a good knob of butter and lightly brown a couple of handfuls of rice, then finish the cooking process by slowly adding stock to it until it’s al dente. (This is the classic risotto method of cooking rice and makes it tender crisp.)

I combine all the above in a large bowl and add enough bread crumb to make enough filling for the bird. Season generously, blend it well together and fill the cavity snuggly. Lace up the cavity to protect the stuffing from falling out.

Then I butter my bird generously all over the breast and drumsticks. Season him well with salt, pepper and cayenne. I cover the breast and drumsticks with bacon so that it’s well covered.

Now the bird is ready for his big entrance, into the oven of course. I cut off a double thickness of foil paper to cover each of his legs and wings, to protect them from burning, then I cover the whole bird tightly with foil and place him in a 450 oven and forget about him. Well almost. I usually leave the bird in the 450 oven for three hours, turn the temp down to 400 for another two hours, remove the foil and bacon and let him brown, which usually takes about half an hour longer.

Take him out, make your gravy, and serve him with pride.

  • Yields: Enough to feed an army

I look forward to hearing from you with your turkey secrets.

To paraphrase an email I was sent recently . . . “I wish you enough”

Enough . . . to make you joyful
Enough . . . to make you thoughtful
Enough . . . to make you grateful
Enough . . . to make you hopeful
Enough . . . to make you thankful

And “may all your Christmases be white!!!”