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Thanksgiving dilemma

We are trying to accommodate all the diversity issues in our family of 9 participants: DD is kosher, would eat turkey if we buy kosher one; nephew won't eat turkey, he only eats fish or VERY low fat foods (don't go there LOL!). Probably will buy kosher turkey, but only ones available in our area are frozen and it has been YEARS since I made a frozen turkey. Been advised NOT to brine a kosher turkey as the koshering process (soaking & salting) essentially brines it. Any tips/tricks for ensuring a juicy, flavorful frozen turkey? I will probably buy a 10-12 lb. one. Looking for appetizer or side dish recipes that don't contain butter or dairy and are low fat to try to accommodate DD and nephew as much as possible.Thanks in advance!

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  1. I don't know about the koshering process, but I have brined "enhanced" or "injected" turkey's and home brining definitely improves the final product. Our turkey's always come out juicy and flavorful. The only drawback, drippings are too salty for making gravy. I usually smoke our turkey's, at 325F, in our Weber kettle after 24-hours of brining.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Antilope

      Thanks Antilope, I should have explained that koshering is soaking and salting a turkey, so that, in essence, it is already brined. But the idea of smoking it is interesting. We haven't done that in a long time. We have a propane gas grill, but have had successful past results. Will have to keep that in mind. DD will have to understand that "pink" turkey is NOT ham, merely smoked!!

      1. re: Diane in Bexley

        But it does tend to taste like ham - people expecting the taste of roasted turkey will be VERY put off; I did that one year and it was not something I will repeat. Use smoked turkey on other occasions, but not Thanksgiving.

    2. You'll be surprised at how well you can do this. First, though, you'll need bigger than a 10-12 pound turkey for 9 people. Think 1.5 pounds per person, more if you have big eaters or want leftovers.

      Second, my tip for having a juicy turkey is simple: start it at a very high oven, 450 or so, for about 20 minutes. Then, lower to 400. I find that a fast, high baking keeps it quite juicy. I've had tremendous luck doing this.

      For keeping things dairy free and low fat, just think: broth, wine and oil. For your stuffing, saute your onions, celery and garlic in oil. Add in your bread and reasonings, and use broth and wine to bind it all together until the desired consistency. It doesn't take much oil, and you get tons of flavor from the broth and wine.

      Mashed potatoes would get a similar treatment. Since you won't be adding butter or cream cheese or sour cream, find flavor elsewhere: caramelize onions in oil and stir them in after the taters are mashed, or boil whole cloves of garlic with the taters and mash them all together. For moisture, broth and oil will be just fine.

      Cranberry sauce doesn't need any butter or dair or anything, and maybe pick one more great veggie. Some roasted root veggies could be a nice way of adding dairy-free flavor and color, and you get all of your favorite T-day veggies (like onions, carrots, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes) without having lots of side dishes. But just keep in mind that the T-day menu is inherently starchy, so careful with those! Lean heavily on your carrots, not your sweet potatoes.

      I hope that helps!

      3 Replies
      1. re: katecm

        Thanks Katecm! Have never made mashed potatoes with chicken broth, always use cream or buttermilk, but you are right. Roasting some shallots and garlic will add additional flavor to the potatoes. We don't do sweet potatoes (DH is very allergic), we usually do an acorn squash/apple casserole. Can substitute non dairy margarine for butter, not my preferred, but willing to do so to accommodate DD and nephew.

        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          Don't forget the chicken broth would probably need to be kosher too. Whole Foods and Trader Joes both sell excellent vegetable broths in little juice box size cartons. Most of the kosher chicken broths out there are extremely salty and may be hard for you to find anyway. Thank you.

          1. re: Bride of the Juggler

            Bride, yes, that happened to me for Rosh Hashonna. Used the Telma cubes, which were extremely salted. We have a WF and TJs and will visit before the big day. Fortunately, I live 5 minutes away from a small kosher grocery store.

      2. Trying to be kosher and low fat and traditional Thanksgiving all at once is definitely a challenge. You're a good mom and aunt to be so accomodating!

        I definitely agree that you shouldn't brine the turkey.

        I love the ideas you have for mashed potatoes, your squash casserole, etc. You can also always do veggies -- roasted brussel sprouts, green beans, etc. I've used a bit of truffle oil to make non-dairy veggies seem extra rich for Thanksgiving (you could make a portion without for your nephew). Soups, especially veggie based ones, can start off the meal beautifully. You have squash already, what about a pureed cauliflower soup?

        For me, the biggest trick for kosher Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie -- it tastes much better with butter in the crust and dairy in the filling. For that reason, I tend to buy pumpkin pie at a kosher bakery. I like to make ginger cake or something like that which is easy to make pareve, and also serve fruit (low fat!) to round out the final course.

        1. I know for a fact that a twelve-pound turkey will feed nine people, because I had a ten-pounder last year plus an extra set of "landing gear" (this is a dark-meat-only family!), and had a visiting cousin along with our usual eight, and we were still gnawing at leftovers a week later. Besides, you will apparently have only eight people actually eating turkey anyway, right?

          Aside from starting with the plumpest and best bird you can afford - and one of my best ever was in fact an Empire Kosher - the only secret to a succulent bird is just make sure it doesn't dry out. I don't stuff the cavity anymore, baking most of the dressing on the side, but I do shove a good bit of it in between the skin and meat of the breast, maybe an inch or two thick. My dressing is both moist and rich, and while it just barely bastes the meat it does insulate it very well, so that the breast is still moist and tender when the thighs are done.

          1. I will add that you should probably provide butter for those who would like to add it, as many other people on diets budget for a single caloric-rich meal on Thanksgiving and may be deeply disappointed by being forced to eat very low fat food.

            Since the DD appears to be observant Conservative rather than Orthodox - the DD is not requiring that the kitchen and table service be kashered - I would imagine the presence of butter at the table may not be an issue (but ask first) - the chance of cross-contamination, as it were, is very low.