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Truest Thanksgiving

What it means to me, and RECIPES!

By Kerry WilliamsPublished 2 years ago 28 min read
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I took a picture of this Gobbler at Spicer's Orchard in Michigan this fall season.

Thanksgiving

Ranking third on my list of favorite holidays, it is quickly becoming number one in my book. It's heading in that direction for a lot of people and as people get older, it becomes more and more prevalent as the most cherished holiday of all.

As opposed to other holidays, and in direct conflict with its name, Thanksgiving doesn't require gift giving, presents, wrapping things up, or returning things to the store. Silly I know, but seriously, Thanksgiving is all about three things people cherish the most. Family, good wholesome food, and an opportunity to relax with those you want to be around the most. A lot of mothers and grandmothers are scoffing at me right now. I know. I know, I'm sorry, but as I would say to my own mother and grandmother, I appreciate everything you do for the family, and especially on Thanksgiving. Thank You.

The younger generation might not seem to cherish these values, and their actions often seem callous or even borderline disrespectful. Teenagers just sitting on their phones and video games, or hanging out with their friends rather than family. Young adults who work on Thanksgiving, only coming home to eat and then leave to go hand out with friends, or go to the bar, or just any place other than home. It's comical, even my own brother in law does this, and has always done this, showing up at the last moment, or late, or really late, only to stuff his face and say Hi, and then out the door he goes to hang with his buddies, often at a sports bar. If it were up to me, I'd close all the sports bars, and the dives, the strip clubs and most of the stores that don't already close. I'd force everyone to go home and spend time with their family, BUT... I have to be careful. Sometimes, you get what you wish for...

Family is family because, you're stuck with them. You didn't get to pick them. You don't get to un-invite them to family functions, unless you're that kind of family and if you are... well, I guess that's fine. Some people, no matter how much you want to trust them, no matter how much faith you put in them, time after time after time, they always let you down. Even family. I can see why people might "disown" family like that. The nephew that can't seem to keep his hands out everyone's coat pockets or purses... the uncle who can't stop making inappropriate comments, even when it costs him his job, but seems eager to spout off as much as possible while family is around. Maybe he's seeking validation? Or maybe a kindred thinker? Not me. Sorry but no.

TRADITIONS

When I go to Thanksgiving (IT'S MORE THAN JUST DINNER!) I want to make it as magical as I can. As a husband and food enthusiast I've created a couple Thanksgiving traditions and I make it a point to carry them on, every year. And this is where I'm going to share with you, my family Thanksgivings. No, this is not going to be one of those catastrophe stories. This is a good one. You can feel good reading this, and feel free to steal any ideas or traditions I have, and make them your own. Seriously, and Thank You for sharing me, and mine, with you and your family too.

PREP TIME!!!

Prep time starts a good couple weeks in advance. Sorry to everyone who is reading this last minute. Worry not. You still have time for a lot of the things we do. First, we start off with buying the turkeys, ducks, ham, and whatever else we may need. Don't wait till the last moment. Make a list, check it twice, and when you're out shopping for your standard groceries, keep in mind the items for Thanksgiving, just in case you find them on SALE! I always find that the week before Halloween, a huge display appears at the grocery store with all the Thanksgiving staples on it. Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce and Bruces Yams are the most prominent, along with Karo corn syrup, Domino 10X confectioners sugar, and candied fruit pieces. If I remember the brand, I'll let y'all know.

Day one sales are unheard of when it comes to food stuffs. But week two of three, sure. Waiting till the last moment will ensure that you're gonna be searching for that elusive golden egg, unable to find it, and if you do, it will be at a premium price. So buy early, buy on sale, but above all else, CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATES. I know, sounds weird coming from a guy, but I'm serious. Just because it's in a can, doesn't mean it lasts forever and this isn't a zombie survival holiday where you eat dog food and sliced olives you found in the cupboard of some abandoned home. You want corn that's still yellow and not grey. Pie filling changes color and taste BIG TIME. Salad dressings, oh my god. Grocery stores are NOTORIOUS for selling dressing way past it's expiration date. And that stuff that sits on the shelf unrefrigerated... vinaigrettes and tangy dressings are fine, vinegar is a natural preservative, but ranch... no way. I buy Lite House or Marie's dressing in the cold vegetable section. I know you're thinking, "Hey! That stuff is twice the price!" but I'm thinking, I'm drowning my salad in ranch. I want it to at least TASTE GOOD! And, again, if you get it on sale, a lot of time you can BOGO and it's the same price as the other stuff that was bottled before my grandpa went to war.

Lastly, as a prep thought. If you're transporting stuff, make sure you have the seating arrangements in the vehicle and space for what you're bringing. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a child's foot in the potato salad, a spilled punch all over the back seat of the van, or a completely oil filled turkey fryer, flipping on it's side in the very back of the van, just moments before you pull into Grandma's driveway. Oh yeah. Good times...

MAGICAL HOLIDAY PUNCH.

You may have read recipes that are similar, and I'm gonna cover a bunch of variations, but the general idea is all the same.

INGREDIENTS: 2 Half Gallons of Sherbet. 1 Two-liter of Lemon-Lime Soda. 1 Can of Pineapple Slices (rings). 1 Can of Mandarin Oranges. 1 Can of Peach Slices. 1 Can of Pear Slices. 1 Jar of NO STEM Maraschino Cherries - THE RED ONES! 2 small tubs or 1 large tub of sliced FROZEN Strawberries. 1 bag of mini marshmallows. DO NOT DRAIN ANYTHING.

Get a BIG punch bowl. BIG. With a ladle. Don't let people scoop with their cup otherwise they'll just complain they got nothing but marshmallows and strawberries and of course people will complain they didn't get those things later. Always use the ladle!

Star by putting the Sherbet in the punch bowl. I put two half gallons in. I freeze them hard, and when the time comes, I cut a slit down the side of the packaging and peel it off the sherbet, and then peel the bottom off. NO LOSS! If you have Sherbet wasting away in the freezer, toss it in! Whatever Sherbet you like, put it in there. I use rainbow Sherbet, but that varies wildly from brand to brand. You get Lemon/Lime/Orange, Lime/Orange/Pineapple, Lime/Orange/Strawberry, or even more exotic kinds like Mango/Passion Fruit/Raspberry. Use what you like. Stick it in there and move on.

Next comes the Frozen Strawberries. Place them on top of the sherbet. You can usually run the bottom of the container under hot water and then invert over the bowl and the whole thing comes out in one solid cylinder, with a bunch of strawberry syrup and seeds left behind. If you want that too, fill the container with lemon lime soda and pour it into the bowl, repeat until the strawberry containers are cleaned out.

Next comes the fruit. I like to slice the pineapple rings in the can using a parring knife. I open the can, pour the juice in the bowl. DO NOT DRAIN ANYTHING! (down the sink I mean. All juices and heavy syrups GO IN THE PUNCH. Alright. So, cut the pineapple rings into tiny pieces and toss them in the punch bowl. You can put them on a cutting board and cut them up if you want. You're not mincing them, you're just turning them into pineapple tid-bits. Why not just buy tid bits? Because tid-bits in a can, are made from the pineapple rejects that couldn't play pro with the big top pineapples. Pineapple tid-bits tend to be a mish mash of unripe, hard, bull-shittery nobody needs in a holiday drink. Chunks are just too much work. Fresh Pineapple doesn't work either. The acids tend to lend a strange flavor to the punch that leaves people wondering, "did someone piss in this?" NO! Do not use fresh pineapple. Use slices, cut up into tiny wedges.

Mandarin Oranges next. Don't just dump the can in unless you like surprise seeds and membrane. Sure the best brands are the best because they weed out a lot of that stuff, but sometimes it makes its way in. Don't be careless. This is magical punch. Not black magic death punch. Rainbow magic yummy punch!

Peaches and Pears. Slice them up super thin. You can get peach and pear halves if you wanna do the work. Usually they are the same price and you get more fruit if it's slices already, so I recommend slices. If you're store only has cherry infused pear buttholes, or pear halves, I'd go with pear halves and cut them up. A WORD OF WARNING. Again, Magic punch, not Mike Punchout. Single slices or halves at a time, make sure they are DEVOID of all pit, skin, stem, seed, etc. Cut off and discard any messed up pieces. Drinking Peach Pit might grow hair on your upper lip, according to Great Auntie Precious, but doesn't Auntie already have enough facial hair for the whole family to endure? Enough said.

Next, the cherries. Dump em' in. Yeah, whatta' ya gonna do? Check each cherry for a pit? You can, but, you already did your due diligence with all the rest of the prep and precautions. What's a cherry pit but a smallish choking hazard? This punch is already a choking hazard. Oh, I should add a disclaimer. Choking hazard. Don't just think you can chug this stuff down. This is an EATING punch.

Okay, all the fruit is in, Next comes the Soda. I recommend taking the cap off, inverting the bottle, and squeezing the soda into the bowl with the least amount of splashing and fizzing. Fill er up! Once the punch bowl is filled to about 2 inches from the rim, pour the bag of mini marshmallows on top and feel free to gently stir/fold the mix to incorporate some of the Sherbet and strawberries, get things mixing and melting, wet the marshmallows, and get those flavors melding.

If you like it light, you can use the ladle and serve some ice cold punch that's a bit more soda with some fruit and marshmallows to begin with. As time goes on, more Sherbet will melt, strawberries will free themselves up, marshmallows will get soft and spongy, the punch will change from mostly clear to a deep pinkish/reddish color. Using the ladle, I like to get a big scoop of fruit and sherbet in my cup and then add liquid over it until my cup is full. Every drink is a delight with a bit of fruit to chew on. As you get to half a cup, there's a lot of fruit left, so toss it back, chew it up and get another cup!

Alright! Variations here we come! For Halloween I made it with Orange Sherbet and no cherries or strawberries. It was an orange colored punch and it tasted awesome. St Patrick's day we did a Lime Sherbet with some green food coloring added. The little bits of green lime zest in the Sherbet were an added bonus. Valentines day was Strawberry and Raspberry Sherbet, everything else the same. If you're of a legal age to imbibe spirits, you can add some alcohol to the mix, whatever floats your fruit, and once the punch gets low, you can always toss in more sherbet and soda, and spirits and remix! The fruit will usually last at least two restocks of sherbet and soda. You might want to add more frozen strawberries. You may need to add marshmallows as time goes on as well. Pretty simple, easy, and delightful! I've seen people post that they like to add fruit juice concentrate to the mix, but I've tried it, and it's overwhelming for me. To each his/her/their own!

DEEP FRIED TURKEY

One year my wife and I wanted to try "deep fried" turkey. It was a relatively new thing, not cutting edge, but we usually let others do the guinea pigging for us, and if it gets enough good reviews, then we'll try something out. We had a decent sized deep fryer, but nothing that would handle a turkey, so we went shopping and came back with a Masterbuilt Counter Top Deep fryer. At the time, it could handle a whopping 12 pound turkey and so we set out to buy a bird to our specifications and soon enough we were deep frying that big bird... not... no, not Big Bird... just a Large Turkey. I'll get to the war on chickens in a moment.

After our first deep fried turkey, we were hooked. It was so delicious, crispy skin on the outside, just like the most perfect crispy chicken skin, only this was turkey. The inside was moist, flavorful, delicious. And then we found out about INJECTIBLES! Tony Chacheres Injectable Creole Butter is amazing! They also have a wide variety of other flavors and I highly recommend if you like more flavor, and something unique, get this stuff! It might seem a little imposing at first, but listen up and you'll be deep frying turkey like a PRO!

Safety first. Everyone knows, tossing a frozen turkey into a deep fryer is a no-no. Everyone also knows you gotta thaw your turkey for a couple days before you cook it... OR DO YOU??? Well, a lot of places tell you the SAFEST way to do it because they don't want you getting sick and then blaming them for giving you bad advice. I say, let's play Russian Roulette, Thanksgiving style, and see who wins a Darwin Award! No. I'm kidding. But, here is some good info to know. 1.) Thawing a turkey is done so the inside cooks thoroughly, no matter how you cook it, with or without stuffing, etc. 2.) Thawing a turkey is thought to be some slow methodical type of thing, but reality is, if you've got a mind, you can go from FROZEN to completely thawed in less than an hour. And this is ONLY because of the way we're going to cook the Turkey!

If you forget to thaw the bad bird (it's gotta be bad or it wouldn't have lost its head in some tragic office copying machine accident. Meh, some turkey's loss, our gain!), Simply do the following;

1.) Clean out the sink, empty it, scrub it down, sanitize it, or just put an empty pot in the sink.

2.) Cut all the crap off the turkey. The net, the plastic, the hanger. If you cannot get the hanger out, leave it for now. Run warm water directly into the neck cavity until you can't feel any ice inside. Flip the bird over and give it the old rooty tooty water splooty in the other end. You can switch back and forth and what happens is, while you're spraying warm water in one end, the other end is slowly equalizing from the ice you melted and the parts you quick defrosted. Each time you turn it over, you're quick melting and defrosting one end, and the other end is equalizing. Eventually the neck, heart, liver, kidneys, and giblets will thaw enough for you to pull them out. Yup, that's what those paper things are inside.

3.) Once your turkey is thawed ENOUGH, it's time to INJECTORATE! The goal here is to not make the turkey warm or bring it to room temp. The goal is to get it NOT FROZEN. It will still be freaking super cold and hard to handle. Your hands should be freezing after handling it for just a few moments. As long as you get all the crap out of it, you're good. The wings and legs may loosen up a bit as well. water put in one end should drain out the opposite end. Yeah, there is a hole all the way through from the neck, to the... other end.

4.) Now, I like a clean bird. I inspect that sucker and pluck any feathers that got past the automated machines. Use a pair of pliers, it goes super fast. At the ass end is a "tail" which is often tucked in, or just hanging about. I cut that off with kitchen shears ("cooking scissors" for all you embryos) and toss it in the trash. If you want to, you can leave it, cook it, eat it, whatever. Your choice. I toss it. I also cut all the extra loose flappy skin from around the neck and give the turkey a crew neck t-shirt cut. All that flappy skin just reminds me of something I'd rather not say. Ewwww. I also use this time to remove the hanger if it is still in. The hanger MUST COME OUT. I also recommend wearing protective eyewear at this point. I've had it happen THREE TIMES where I pulled the hanger out, and it comes out like a loaded spring and shoots turkey splooge right in my eye. I never got pink eye or anything like that and I immediately rinsed my eyes out, but they say there's a ton of bad shit that can grow on the turkey so, basically anything that touches the turkey must be thoroughly cleaned, washed, etc. afterward.

Okay, now your turkey should be thawed, and prepped. Whether you did the traditional multi-day thaw, or my quick thaw method, the bird should still be mighty cold and ready to injectorate. Yeah, that's another word I made up, just like this tradition. An injection is one time. This... this is justified mutilation. Injectoration Nation. You'll want to put your turkey in a shallow baking disk or deep walled cookie sheet, roasting pan, or something of the like, if it's not already there from the thawing process, (by the way, if you did the traditional long slow thaw, you still gotta unwrap it, prep it, etc. Don't be a freaking doughnut. Hurry up, and when you're ready, I've marked this part in BOLD - HERE.) Alright. Back to the process. Make sure the pan is empty of any juices that may have accumulated during the thaw. Next, grab the Injectable stuff, whatever you bought, and open it up. I say, whatever you bought, because if you're wily enough to make your own injectable marinade, you don't need me telling you step by step how to assemble the needle so you don't impale yourself. You've probably already done it a time or two as well. Alright. The needle is usually taped to the handle of the "plunger" inside the syringe. God help you if you need to google that. Remove the needle and screw it into the front of the syringe. Now you can proclaim "it's alive!" even though it's dead, and tell your significant other to get the jumper cables, you're ready to operate. Once the fun is over, or your marriage, or both, it's time to "injectorate"... see, like operate... but... injector... yeah. Okay. I know it says "lubricate with cooking oil" but Jesus, you're sucking up butter oil and spices for Gob's sake. You don't need oil. Your hands are going to be slippery enough without additional lube. Just use both hands, stick the needle in the bottle of injectable marinade and holding it steady, pull the plunger out, sucking some of that liquid goodness into the syringe. Again, don't be a doughnut. Don't yank the plunger out. It stays in a little so you can control it, and push the marinade inside the turkey. Sheesh!

Alright, with the syringe full, pick a spot and shove the needle into the turkey. Try to gage it so you don't push it all the way through. You want the tip of the needle to go into the thick of the meat. Depress the plunger, forcing some of the liquid into the meat, and pull the needle out a bit. Keep going until the needle comes out, or until you're out of liquid. Refill and repeat in a different spot. Beginners will "inject" the turkey 10-12 times and run out of liquid. No problem. After the first bite of turkey cooked this way, you'll sacrifice MORE TIME and MORE PATIENCE to do it better, next time. I space my injections about 3/4 inch apart and inject the turkey 30-40 times, pumping just a little bit of liquid in each time. I often cross connect points, inject the legs, wings, thighs, inner thighs, and the breasts as different angles and depths for a completely immersed and internally seasoned bird. YES liquid will come out. It will drain. But a lot of buttery goodness and spices will stay inside. Now, you let it rest for a bit while you heat up the fryer.

You can use whatever kind of fryer you want. I've moved on from my old fryer to a newer Masterbuilt Butterball deep fryer that can handle a 25 pound turkey. I usually don't fry one that big, but I like that I can if need be. I NEVER cook in the house. I know it says indoor outdoor and its rated for use in the kitchen. You can take your chances, but I'm not. I set up a little METAL table outside and put the fryer on that. Then I fll it with oil and then I turn it on and set it to max heat. Depending on how cold it is outside, will depend on how fast it will heat up. One year it took three hours, one year it took 45 minutes. The year it took three hours, it was about 40 degrees outside. The oil needs to get up to 450 degrees + before you drop the bird in. Oh, I know some people say 350... they suck. By the way, at this time, I recommend putting the turkey in the drop basket for the fryer, and patting it dry and then rubbing a bit of oil on the turkey wherever it touches the basket. If you don't and it hits the oil, the spots where the turkey is touching the basket will instantly fuse and stick meaning pulling our bird out of the basket while it's still hot and juicy will become a bit complicated. Don't say I didn't warn ya! Besides, the bird going to be doused in oil, submerged! Ehhhh, unless you use an air fryer, in which case, I STILL recommend you coat any parts that are going to touch metal, with oil. Nuff said.

Once the oil is up to temp, you're ready to drop the turkey in. I recommend you calculate the cook time, and give yourself an extra HOUR. So, most sites say 3 to 4 minutes per pound because they're willy nilly and don't want you to blame them when your turkey comes out looking like Freddy Krueger's face. Who cares! It's delicious! See that's why I never had nightmares as a kid cause I knew a bit of creole butter and 30 minutes of playing doctor makes anything taste good after an hour in the deep fryer. I definitively say 3 minutes per pound, and that's going to be your cook time. From the time you drop the turkey, to the time you pull it out and hook the basket to drain. So for a 20 pound turkey, 1 hour. Yeah, I got math.

Okay... so, you want NOTHING around, under, or close to, the fryer, when you drop this thing. THIS IS WHY I don't cook it in the house. I also recommend wearing oven gloves and YOU MUST use the extra long hook handle to hold the basket handle, to slowly drop your turkey basket in the oil. The moment the turkey hits the oil, a number of things will happen. 1.) The spawn of hell will boil up out of the oil and it will sound like the world has exploded. 2.) The oil will roil and boil and it might actually splash around a bit. DO NOT stand next to this thing! I recommend a long armed approach standing a good foot away, using the long handle, drop that sucker in the oil and back away. Leave the lid open for all I care. Wait until it settles down and then close it safely. I'm not kidding. Do not spill it, do not kick it, do not panic, do not, do not, do not. DO - use your brain and follow all the safety precautions. If they say to do something different, do what the instructions say. I'm certainly not taking responsibility for you messing stuff up. LOL.

Alright, so once the time is up, open the fryer, using the hook gently lift the basket up and hook it on the side of the fryer where it goes, to let the excess oil drain off. The turkey should be a GOLDEN BROWN color. The meat should be pulling away from the leg bones. If it looks like it needs another 5 minutes, do not put it back in. It's been cooking in 300+ degree oil, directly in contact with the turkey. It will continue to cook, even after it's been pulled out.

So, let it sit and drain for about 2-3 minutes. After that, bring back your baking dish and set the entire basket, turkey and all, in the pan. This will prevent you from leaving that oil droplet trail across your living room carpet on the way to the kitchen! Once you're somewhere safe, use oven gloves and large meat forks to pull the turkey away from the basket in any areas that are sticking or stuck. Once freed up, lift the turkey out by the BODY. If you grab wings or legs they're just going to pull right off. Put the turkey on a serving platter and wrap it in aluminum foil, or whatever you use as aluminum foil substitute. Try not to use wax paper or plastic wrap unless you want a plastic/wax coated turkey. It's still 300 degrees on the outside. Then you let it rest. This allows all those spices and juices that were sealed inside the turkey (a result of you dunking it in 450+ degree oil, searing it inside and out) to meld and redistribute throughout the turkey. In about 15 minutes, it's ready to slice and serve.

Now, a word to the unwise. I'm not responsible for your stupidity. You see those posts by people with a hard boiled egg, with a giant bite out of it, but the shell is still on? The OP claims to have not enjoyed the crunchy texture of hard boiled eggs and is swearing them off for good. Yeah. That didn't happen. That was for shits and giggles. I love shits and giggles, just not in my Thanksgiving turkey. Don't leave the tin foil on and slice your turkey and eat it that way. Don't eat the serving platter. Don't drink the oil. Don't lick the fryer. Just don't. And if you do, and you win a Darwin award, please post cause we all wanna know how dumb you are. (Nobody reading this actually qualifies as the subject of this sarcasm. People that dumb stopped reading after the first two paragraphs)

GRANDMA'S STUFFING

My wife's grandmother learned this recipe from her grandmother, and she learned it from her grandmother, so on and so forth. My daughter was taught this recipe from her own great grandmother, just a year before she passed away. We plan to continue this dish and this tradition, in all their memories. Thank you.

INGREDIENTS: You'll need a roasting pan with a lid, and this will determine the amount of other ingredients you're going to need! Some people do one roasting pan. In our family, we do TWO. That's ho good this stuff- I mean, stuffing, really is! You'll need a ten pound bag of your favorite potatoes. About 2 pounds of onions. A full quart container of breadcrumbs. A DUCK. Yeah, a real duck, dead duck, frozen, from your super market. If you want to use a chicken it changes the flavor. It's up to you. We use duck. You'll need some garlic powder, salt and pepper, and a full one pound package of BACON. You'll want mushrooms if you like mushrooms.... One last ingredient, you'll want some Kitchen Bouquet. This is a browning ingredient and smoke flavoring. If you don't want to use this stuff, use something else that adds smoke flavoring. There is a product called liquid smoke that we've been wanting to try out. If you do it before we do, let me know!

Star by thawing your duck. YOU MUST USE THE TRADITIONAL METHOD HERE. The reason for this is simple. The whole reason you can quick thaw a turkey before deep frying it is because any bacterial blooms that occur from using the warm or hot water to thaw the bird, are going to die. Nothing survives 450+ degree oil. And since bacteria doesn't just appear out of nowhere, there is always going to be some of that stuff on your turkey. More or less, it's all going to die in hells fiery oil bath. When you cook this duck, it's going to be cooked on top of the potatoes and onions so it's a long slow cooking method.

Preheat your oven for 425. Grab an elevated edge cookie sheet and put parchment paper in the bottom. Grab your bacon and lay out the strips, covering the parchment paper. As soon as the over is up to temp, put the bacon in and set a timer for twelve minutes.

Alright, next, you wash and peel your potatoes. Then shred them by hand, or use your fancy-shmancy food processor... like we do. Once your potatoes look like shredded mozzarella, put them in the roasting pan and move on to the onions. The roasting pan should be half full will shredded potatoes.

Peel the shitty outside part off your onions and remove the root base and sprout top, and then cut in half from top to bottom. Now cut crosswise making a bunch of onion rainbows. MAKE SURE YOU CUT THEM PEFECT! They should be so beautiful, just the sight of them makes you bawl your eyes out. That's how you know you cut onions right. Put all your onions in the roasting pan and mix by hand, set aside. The roasting pan should be 3/4 full now.

Grab your bacon out of the oven. Reset the oven to 350 degrees. Take the bacon out of the grease and let it sit. No need to drain the grease or put it on paper towel. Once cooled, toss it in a food processor and puree the bacon. Yes. Grind that shit until it looks like golden brown dust or bacon dirt. Slowly remove the parchment paper from the cookie sheet, and POUR THE GREASE INTO THE POTATOES AND ONIONS. YES. This is how we infuse the potatoes and onions with bacon-y goodness, and keep it from sticking to the roasting pan. Mix the grease in thoroughly. Add two tablespoons of Kitchen Bouquet and about four tablespoons of garlic powder. Mix it up. Toss in the bread crumbs and mix it up. Take your cleaned thawed duck and put it on top of the mixture and cover. Put it in the 350 degree oven and cook for THREE HOURS.

After three hours, the duck should be done. Surprisingly, the potatoes and onions may not be done. If the duck isn't done, (Internal temp of 165+) then put it back in the oven and check after 30 minutes. Once the duck is done cooking, take it off the stuffing and set it aside. Now you have duck to slice and serve, in addition to turkey. You can rub some seasoning on the duck if you like, or even cut it up into super small chunks and add it to the stuffing. However you like, but the reason we use the duck is to get the grease to cook with. Duck grease is awesome, and the subtle flavor really makes the stuffing amazing.

Grab your bacon dirt and stir it in, stir the entire mix until it's completely incorporated again, and pop it back in the oven. Now the mushrooms can be cooked separate from the stuffing, and added once it is done. Mushrooms have a distinct flavor and if you add mushrooms early on, the stuffing will taste like mushrooms. If you cook them separate and add them after the stuffing is done cooking, then every couple bites, you'll taste mushroom. Or, just cook them separate and add them as a tiny side to the stuffing. That's actually what we do because many people in our family do not eat mushrooms. Weird, I know. LOL. Nah, to each their own. Any ingredient you don't like, feel free to switch it up. Thanksgiving is all about sharing, and tweaking recipes, and making them your own.

Every 15-30 minutes, pull the stuffing out and try a bite. If the potatoes are cooked all the way, then the stuffing is done. Don't worry about little crusty bits that stick to the side. Scrape em off and stir them in. They add flavor and texture. The stuffing, when done, will be a pale grey potato stuffing looking concoction with an amazing taste. Yes you can stuff a bird with it if you want, but it's much easier cooking it like this, and eating it as a side. It's amazing.

I'm actually in the process of prepping our kitchen for the upcoming stuffing creation which my daughter and her cousin are going to jointly work on. Thanksgiving is in about 5 days and I've got half my kitchen loaded with stuff I'm preparing to make, which reminds me... I'll add one last recipe for you! A dessert item!

TRUFFLES!

I learned this recipe from a friend in high school after trying the truffles at a little pre-holiday party the school put on in the cafeteria. Thank god for small town high schools where everyone knows everyone. It was super nice, everyone had a great time just hanging out and eating/drinking. Each kid brought something to snack on. It was a complete buffet of culinary delights, mostly chips and soda, pretzels, popcorn, store bought cookies, but this guy brought something he made, and loved to share. Thanks Steven.

INGREDIENTS: Sweetened condensed milk. Chocolate. That's it. The key is variation. It's pretty darn simple and I'll explain.

Some recipes say you can use sweetened condensed milk (The 392 gram can), and just 30g raw cocoa powder. That equates to 1/4 cup of cocoa. That's fine if you want dark chocolate truffles, like, super dark chocolate. I make them on occasion, but not all the time.

Put the sweetened condensed milk in a sauce pan on medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and stir it in. Stir constantly for 8 minutes. Take it off the heat. Pour it into a plastic bowl, my mom has a stack of old cool-whip containers for projects like these and they work great. Stick it in the fridge for 1 hour. When you pull it out, it will be like soft fudge. Using a spoon, scoop out the mix and form into a ball, and roll in your favorite coating. For the dark chocolate truffles, just use more cocoa powder. The outside identifying the inside is always a great idea and shows you put more thought into this amazingly simple treat than you actually had to.

Now variation includes using something OTHER than cocoa! This leads into the wide-wide world of chips and nuts and additives! Around the holidays a lot of weird stuff comes out at the super market that you usually don't see the rest of the year, unless you're buying it online. We get Mint Chocolate Chips, Eggnog Chips, roasted Chestnuts, "winter" flavored stuff.... what the hell is the flavor of winter? Never mind, I know. If you bite into something and it tastes like you just bit the bark off the Christmas tree, that's "winter" flavored. If you use any kind of chips, make sure they're chocolate. "Flavored baking chips" DO NOT WORK. I know, I've tried, I've tried a million different ways. You can make Butterscotch fudge using Butterscotch flavored baking chips, but you cannot make Butterscotch truffles in the same way. Sorry.

So, if using chocolate chips, use ONE SMALL BAG chocolate chips to every TWO CANS of Sweetened condensed milk. Yes, this will make double the volume of the dark chocolate cocoa coated truffles so if you want equal amounts of each flavor you make, you'll need to double your dark chocolate cocoa truffles production.

Mint Chocolate truffles, use Mint Chocolate Chips.

For peanut butter chocolate truffles, I recommend using real peanut butter and milk chocolate chips. Sometimes the peanut butter chips are not chocolate!

White chocolate truffles, use white chocolate chips.

If you add flavorings to your truffles, make sure you do so AT THE END of the cooking process. Just stir it in right before you put it in the fridge. A lot of flavorings are alcohol based, but some are not and you don't want the flavoring turning your potential truffles into a burned mess, or a solid brick of crumbly shit in the pan. The only thing you can do with that is let it cool, scrape it out and toss it in the trash.

You can add toasted coconut, or regular coconut, shredded, flakes, or whatever. You can add nuts, candied nuts, coated nuts, chopped nuts, nuts of every kind and variety. You can add PARADISE chopped jellied or candied fruit! Paradise is the brand name. YAY I remembered and it ties everything together! You can even make little balls of truffle and shove whole maraschino cherries inside, pineapple wedges (candied or whatever, just make sure you eat fresh or canned pineapple truffles within 24 hours and refrigerate them. I can't imagine mandarin orange truffles, but maybe they would work!

The only limit to these truffles is your imagination, and of course anything that will just utterly and completely destroy the truffle making process. Trial and error! Have fun with it! I certainly did. And not only is this simple and easy, it's CHEAP and a lot of fun, especially for little kids who wanna help make something around the holidays.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading this, and if you want more, let me know by giving it a like. If you want more from me, more often, a tip would be nice... and a first. LOL. HAPPY HOLIDAYS everyone!

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About the Creator

Kerry Williams

It's been ten days

The longest days. Dry, stinking, greasy days

I've been trying something new

The angels in white linens keep checking in

Is there anything you need?

No

Anything?

No

Thank you sir.

I sit

waiting

Tyler? Is that you?

No

I am... Cornelius.

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