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NewlyNested: To Stuff Or Not To Stuff

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a blogumn by Debra Goykhman
Photo Credit: s. yume

Photo Credit: s. yume

With Thanksgiving around the corner I am feeling extremely domesticated.  I have had turkey on my mind for the last two weeks.  It all goes back to plane fare.  We usually always go to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving, so there are absolutely no turkey expectations in my life.  I’ve only been concerned with side dishes and am quite an expert at them.  However, this year the plane fares were outrageous and my husband’s schedule has been too busy to take time off of work.  The idea of going to Denny’s for a feast sounds fine to me, but Thanksgiving is one of my husband’s favorite holidays since it’s non-religious.  Therefore, the nice wife that I am, I have decided to make a big meal at home.

My intimidation to cooking a turkey is really my mother’s fault.  Every Thanksgiving morning my mother would wake up at 7:00 am to begin cooking her massive turkey.  When I would wake up at 11 am I would find her crouched over the sink, her eyes still glazed with sleepiness, as she ran cold water over the bird while cursing.  Yes, every year my mother’s turkey was always still frozen the day of Thanksgiving.  When I would ask her how long she had been trying to help along the defrosting process she would answer back, “hours.”  Not only would my mother always have a terrible morning on the holiday but she also made me neurotic about hosting holidays.  I’ve learned from her to know exactly what I am doing days before—to have a menu made, to have the shopping done, and to begin cooking as far back as a week before.  With Thanksgiving coming up I began to realize how clueless I was on hosting such a big feast.

I began to do some research to insure I wouldn’t face the same problems (plus there is no way I am going to get up early enough to deal with a defrosting problem).  Soon I found out that there was a stuffing dilemma (my favorite part of the feast).  My family has always stuffed the bird.  The big thanksgiving question is: To stuff or not to stuff?   Some believe that the stuffing soaks up all the juice causing the turkey to be dry.  Others say that you can get salmonella from stuffing because it usually isn’t brought up to temperature and if it is then the turkey will dry from overcooking.  The stuffing side of the argument is that it just tastes so much better when it’s cooked inside the bird!  Then there is the brining argument:  To soak the turkey in salty water for days or to roast it fresh?   Then do you cover the turkey or leave it uncovered as it roasts?  Finally, I even saw a recipe that suggested you cook the bird breast side down first and then turn the turkey in the middle of cooking.  It’s too much for me to contemplate, so I bought two turkeys to try both methods (just not on the same day).  Do you have any Thanksgiving dilemmas or advice?