My grandfather, affectionately dubbed “GaGa” by his first grandchild, was a veterinarian and had a profound appreciation for the animals that supply us food and nourishment. He was also a Texan, so he made a mean Thanksgiving dinner! In his memory, here is his famous recipe for Turkey and Dressing that I now make using Tillamook Butter.
INGREDIENTS (for a 10# turkey):
1 package herb seasoned bread crumbs (not cubes!)
1 package cornbread crumbs
2 chopped onions
4 cups diced celery
¾ cup Tillamook Butter
4-8 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 cup white raisins
1 can sliced water chestnuts
½ tablespoon salt
4 cups water
Approx. 1 cup flour
Simmer celery, onion, and butter in 4 cups water until tender (about 20 minutes). Mix seasonings, crumbs, raisins, and water chestnuts. Add onions, celery and broth (as needed). Add at least 3 tablespoons fat from cooking giblets. Should be moist but not goopy. Taste for seasoning.
Take out giblets and neck to simmer in about 5 cups water in a separate pot. Wash and dry turkey thoroughly. Rub inside and out with softened butter. Sift flour over all of it – top and bottom. Stuff with bread crumb mixture, cover with a tent made of foil, and bake according to directions.
Melt 8 tablespoons fat from turkey pan in a pan. Add 8 tablespoons flour gradually. Whisk together while it browns. Slowly add 4 cups broth (made from cooking giblets and neck together). Season. Might need to supplement with chicken broth. Whisk, whisk, whisk until there are no lumps.
My mother says: “GaGa made the best turkey and dressing. He spent lots of time “coddling” the turkey – poking at it while it thawed out, rubbing it with butter, trussing it up. (Oh! And he only got the turkeys that had the least pre-done to it – no self-basting, no injected with this or that.) Then he watched it carefully while cooking. It was always very moist, and the dressing was delicious. Happy Thanksgiving!”
Turkey image: Flickr/Gerry (Creative Commons)