Friday, November 18, 2011

Winner Winner, Turkey Dinner - Polish Style

Witamy!  It’s almost time for the American Thanksgiving turkey dinner with all the traditional trimmings.  Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to be embraced by anyone, regardless of where the family tree began.  There’s no one traditional menu any more...culinary traditions vary from family to family as each cook’s version has evolved over the years.  Each family’s Thanksgiving table usually showcases one or more family favorites...some beloved by all and maybe some favored by just one or two family members.  It’s all about compromise,  for instance  I’m not a fan of green beans sauced with canned cream of mushroom soup, or lime green jello holding small chunks of cream cheese, but if the others don’t mind my jellied cranberry sauce (right out of the can),  then everyone is a winner. 

Most of our Thanksgiving dinners were spent with my parents.  Laura took over the lead for preparing the feasts very soon after we got married.  So she was in control of the menu.  The early years featured dishes that she grew up with, prepared by her Mom and Grandmothers.  But as she gained more experience and as our taste preferences changed, our menu slowly evolved.  Several decades later we have pretty much established our own traditional Thanksgiving menu.  But our list of delicacies can vary as she occasionally adds new dishes and new recipes to the “groaning board” - most of the time with enthusiastic acceptance. 

Have you ever had Turducken?  This is supposedly a Lousiana specialty consisting of a de-boned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, which is stuffed into a deboned turkey.  Turduckens are generally stuffed with a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture with cajun sausage.  We've never had one either.  Nor have we ever deep fried our turkey.  I guess we're traditionalists at heart! 

Roast turkey is not just an American specialty.  There are some pretty good turkey recipes in my Mom files, but for us it has always started with a frozen Butterball, procured a few weeks early after scouring the newspaper ads for the best sale prices.  I know that the purists like to go for fresh, organic, free range turkeys, and we keep promising ourselves that we’ll “go natural” next year, but somehow always gravitate back to our comfort zone.  Maybe we’ll get really adventuresome next year – go organic  AND deep-fry that bird, or maybe even push the culinary envelope further with a turducken!

In any event, here is one of my Mom’s turkey recipes.  Frankly, I’m not sure if it is Polish or not, but we can keep that secret among ourselves.  And besides, you could always add a little fresh dill to the stuffing mix, and voila, it immediately becomes a Polish-style stuffing!   Smacznego!
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Turkey Stuffed with Almonds and Raisins

One 14 to 16 pound turkey
½ cup butter, melted

 6 slices white bread
¾ cup milk
Your turkey’s liver, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 eggs separated
½ cup raisins
3 tablespoons almonds, peeled and slivered
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon sugar
One dash Allspice
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 cup of breadcrumbs

 Soak the bread in the milk and squeeze out the liquid well.  Combine with the liver, butter, egg yolks, raisins, almonds and spices.  Beat the egg whites with salt until stiff.  Fold into the stuffing mix a scoop at a time, alternating with the bread crumbs. Mix lightly.

Stuff the neck and body cavities and close with skewers. Brush with butter.  Place in the oven which has been preheated to 450 degrees.  Drop the thermostat to 325 degrees and roast about 15 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  Baste skin frequently with the drippings.  Sprinkle skin with salt about half way.  Be sure to use a meat thermometer to gauge doneness (160 degrees) making sure the probe is set in the meat and not in the stuffing.   There are a ton of recipes out there for roasting turkey ...your favorite method will be great, as long as you use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. 

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