After the festivities at the dinner table at last weekend’s Jones Thanksgiving, delectable pies and all, my grandmother and I wound up at the kitchen table sipping tea and talking about her Thanksgiving tips. We were both weary from the meal and trying to soothe our stomachs with some peppermint tea.
All of her tips are good ‘uns, and I figured I’d share as everyone gears up for their big dinners. Especially since I’m still having difficulties getting recipes out of Momma. Don’t worry. I’ll break her down soon.
Anyway, what follows is a transcript from our chat. A heads up: I call my grandmother Bee. Always have, always will.
Stacy: So what do you normally put on your turkey before it goes in the oven?
Bee: Oh not a whole lot really. A little poultry seasoning I suppose. But I have cooked it upside down before to keep the breast meat from cooking too fast and drying out. I put a little bit of chicken broth in the pan too. When there’s about half an hour left of cooking, I use a dish towel or something so I can flip it over and put it back in the oven to get all brown on top. It’s not easy. I haven’t done that in a while, but I know it keeps the meat nice and juicy.
Stacy: So no seasoning really?
Bee: I’ve tried putting it in a brine. You know, like Alton Brown does on the Food Network? I have your grandfather get me a cooler and we fill it up with the brine and soak the turkey in there overnight and I’m ready to go the next day. It keeps the bird very flavorful.
Stacy: And what do you do with that nasty bag of stuff that comes inside it? The giblets?
Bee: Well I’ll usually use the turkey neck for a gravy, and then I’ll throw the rest out. You know, like the gizzard? I don’t do anything with that.
Stacy: How do you make your gravy? I’ve tried and it usually comes out a little lumpy.
Bee: I find that if you add the flour into cold water first and dissolve it that way, then its easier to add into the gravy. Then you slowly pour it into the pot while it’s on the stove and have to keep on whisking it until you’re sure everything has dissolved right. Putting any kind of heat on flour and water before you get a chance to break up the clumps is troublesome.
Stacy: Now what do you do with your sweet potatoes? I remember a few years ago Mommy had you bring some and they were sweeter than what I’m used to. Didn’t you use some pineapple in them?
Bee: I don’t remember that recipe. But I do know that sometimes I’ll boil them for a while first, with skins on. Then you drain them and once they cool down you can just slide the skins right off.
(She had seen me struggling to peel sweet potatoes earlier that day.)
And then I chop them up into big chunks and make a glaze with water, regular sugar, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and some vanilla. They go into the oven and then you spoon some of the glaze over them every ten minutes or so. That way they get a nice glaze on them.
Hope these help you as much as they did me.