Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Tale of Hope After Turkey Gone Bad...What's Yours?

I had a bad experience with turkey. I love to eat turkey, but cooking it has been another story. Far from love, more like dread.

I will give you the history that turkey and I have. It's a short one. Two years ago, after Thanksgiving, but before Christmas, I decided I had not had my fill of turkey. My mom was staying with us and we tend to get into shenanigans together every time she visits. This time is happened to be of the poultry persuasion.

I had a received a free turkey at the grocery. It was some sort of meal-deal thing. Buy a ham, get a free turkey. Well, let me tell you, I now know why it was free. So we defrost the turkey like you should. The whole day I was dreaming of succulent turkey with stuffing, cranberries- the whole nine yards. There was a lot riding on that turkey, but evidently not enough.

Mom tells me that she's got this amazing, fool-proof recipe for turkey. She had it at friend's house but she had to call that friend to get the name of the lady to made the turkey so she could get the recipe. For some reason that didn't sound solid to me, so I started searching on-line for how to cook a turkey. I had never made one and was really pumped to do it. Well, my mom finally got her recipe. She was positive that it was a winner. So we tried it. There was something about 425 degrees, some aluminum foil and it being a luscious golden brown when it was done. What we saw as we lifted the shiny silver tent, was none other than the greyest, ugliest, saddest, rubbery steamed bird you've every seen. I mean it was nauseating. We took one look at each other and busted out laughing.

Regardless of it's appearance, we brought the turkey to the table and started serving it up. We give my husband the leg. He takes one bite and, well, he couldn't, it snapped back like a rubber band. Bless his heart. Mom and I were laughing so hard at this point I think we were snorting. The kids looked bewildered. No one ate it. So that's when the "Phoenix" went down into the ashes, as it were.

But yesterday was it's revival! I have been planning for months now, how do I make a good turkey? I was just as excited as I was scared. I was especially scared because now I had a $15 dollar, bone-in turkey breast staring back at me, laughing. I know she was laughing.

I got this idea to rub under the skin my favorite curry paste. I am new to Indian food. I've just recently really started to enjoy it. So I thought it would be a great way to flavor this bird. I take the entire contents of the packet and mix it will some olive oil.  I made a pocket under the skin and started grabbing handfuls of the curry paste and trying to spread it around. The most bizarre thing happened. It was sticking to my hands and not the bird. Before I know it, I'm wrestling with the birdy breast, half laughing, half talking to it. I feel like it knows. It knows I'm scared I will ruin it and the Phoenix will stay in the ashes for good. I press on, giggling every so often that my fingers now look like mini curry clubs. Finally I figure out a method that works: shove the curry under the skin and work it around by massaging it around on the outside of the skin.

I stared at the turkey, feeling quite like the new champion. I needed some where to perch my leg and then lift my arms in victory. Instead I threw it in the oven at 325 degrees and prayed.

The ending to this story is that my husband said it was the BEST turkey he's ever had. Sammy just doesn't make statements like that very often. I was flabbergasted. YES! I did it! The "Phoenix" arose from our plates to claim its rightful place in the category of "Best Ever". I must say it was delicious. Juicy, flavorful, soft and tender.

Do you have a victorious or just plain bad turkey story? I would LOVE to hear it. Or, tell me what you think is  the best way to make a turkey. I'm all ears!

Curry Crusted Turkey Breast with Yogurt Sauce

Prep time: 10 min.
Bake time: approx. 65-70 min.
Oven temp: 325 degrees
Serves: 4-6

1 pkg. curry paste, 3.5 oz. (my favorite is Taste of India, Butter Curry)
1 bone-in turkey breast, 2-3 lbs.
1 tbls olive oil

Mix curry and oil together. Rub under skin. Sear skin side down in a skillet over med.-high heat until nicely browned. Place skin side up on roasting pan and bake until thermometer says 160 degrees. I do not follow the sites that say 175 degrees, it would be a charcoal briquette!

Let the turkey rest. Seriously, for 10 min. I cut into it a bit to early and the juices were gushing out. So it would have been even better if I waited the whole 10 min. Do as I say, not as I do.

Yogurt Sauce

Prep time: 10 min.
Frig time: 15 min.
Serves: 6

2 c. of strained yogurt or Greek yogurt
2 small Persian, English or Kirby cucumbers, small dice
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Big handful of fresh dill
Salt and pepper

Disclaimer: Now, I do not claim to be an expert on international cuisine. I know Indian food is often served with a raita and the Greeks love their tzatziki. My husband's family eats grape leaves with a similar sauce but it's made with dried mint instead of dill and tons of garlic. This is how I make it for our family. We like this version the best. No belching of garlic fumes and it's extremely refreshing with the spice of the curry.

Mix all ingredients together. Adjust to your tastes. It's so delish.


  1. definitely sounds like a winner! I hate when you work so hard and expect something to be wonderful and its awful! But you just have to try again...and you did!
    Congrats on a successful Turkey Dinner!!

  2. I love Indian food! The turkey looks succulent and that crispy skin is my fav!

    Yay for the success! I hate it to when I expect something and it doesn't turn out as I expected.

  3. Try try again! Always when cooking. Thanks for sharing. Don't you love moms!

  4. Dennis- thank you! some times cooking requires courage, ya know? I was feelin' quite proud of myself:)

    Tanantha-Isn't crunchy skin the best! thank you!

  5. Lisa- yes! I do love my mom so much. We always have fun together, especially creating things. Art, crafts, cooking...whatever!

  6. Lauren,
    I love your story and, yes...your mom sounds great. I had so much fun with mine too! Your recipe looks delish..that skin...and the yogurt sauce ---yum!!! You've made me hungry again!!
    Hope you'll stop by & see me for pie, patriotism & poetry! :)

  7. that is so hilarious! we have some family members that deep fry their turkey, pretty wild huh. I tried making a "vegetable rack" under the turkey while it was baking, it came out super juicy because it absorbed all the juices from the veggies (i used things like carrots, celery, etc) - i've also tried stuffing the turkey with lemon slices, orange slices, onion wedges, and some fresh herbs like rosemary, oregano, sage...slicking it up with olive oil and s&p on the outside - and adding some chicken stock to it after it's been baking a lil bit - came out tasty! xoxo

  8. Great work on redeeming that turkey! I think adding curry was a spectacular idea, and rubbing any spice or seasoning under the skin with oil or butter always makes the meat extra flavorful and juicy!


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