A Dutch oven Thanksgiving

By Keith Fisher

How was Veterans Day? I hope you turned to all the veterans in your life and told them thanks. At the very least, I hope you said happy Veterans Day.

As I promised last time, we’re going to start getting ready for the big day when your family loosens their belt and says, "Okay, pass me some more." For the next couple of blogs before Thanksgiving, I’ll talk about ways you can steal the glory of a fantastic meal, well prepared. You’re family will praise you for cooking it outdoors, and you will learn something new.

First, we need to deal with a main course. By tradition, we will be looking for turkey. I’m going to talk about two ways to cook it and maybe talk about everybody’s alternative-ham.

How many of you remember the deep frying craze? A few years ago, Campchef introduced deep pots and paraphernalia for cooking in oil, on top of a Campchef stove. Many folks tried it, and wowed their holiday guests. After a while, a problem surfaced. People were putting the burners too close to walls, on flammable decks, and weren’t allowing for oil displacement when lowering the bird into the pot. The resulting fires made many fearful. Campchef offers very specific instructions now, and a disclaimer, begging people to act responsibly.

Deep frying poultry is still an option, but please pay attention to the directions. In an effort to offer their customers a better way, Campchef developed the Ultimate Turkey Roaster. It offers the speed of deep-frying with none of the cholesterol or extra fat. It’s safe and you can use it on the burner or over charcoal. The way it works is simple. The bird goes in upright on its haunches, like it’s going to church. Open the cavity so air and heat can pass through and drape the bird over the cone in the center.

You’ll notice the cone has holes that draw heat from underneath and deposits it directly on the inside of the bird. (You can also use flavor-enhancing charcoal or smoke chips.) Life is great. The cast-iron exterior, and the heat from the inside helps you roast a 20 lb. turkey in half the time. I’ve cooked 15 lb. birds in 100 minutes.

Prepare your bird by injecting with any number of substances, like juices, and commercially available marinades. After using a flavor injection needle, massage the hole you made so the marinade doesn’t leak out. The final step is to use a rub. You can use anything you want, but I’m partial to Emeril’s poultry rub. If you prefer crispy, brown skin, you may want to use a red or brown rub. It will give a golden brown appearance.

The last step in preparation is to insert the thermometer in the breast (not near the bone). The groove provided in the flange of the lid will allow you to use the thermometer without opening the lid. Put a half-inch of moisture in the bottom, under the grate. The steam helps in cooking so you might want to use something aromatic. Also, remember to keep it moist. If it dries out, the residue will be hard to clean off the pot.

When the temperature reads 165, the bird is done. Take it out, place it on a platter, and sit back. Your guests will be amazed at how moist and tasty the turkey is. It won’t have a crispy skin, but who cares. After tasting the white meat, they will dub you the master of Thanksgiving. You will have stolen the honor from Dear Old Mom. But I’ll bet she’s okay with that. She might even learn to watch football.

Here's another way to make a turkey dinner, using a traditional Dutch oven:

Stuffed Turkey Breast
12-inch Deep oven

8-10# Turkey breast, legs and
wings removed
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 1/2 inch water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 cubes butter
1 small onion, cubed
2 cups sliced celery
10 slices white bread, cubed
2 1/2 - 3 cups raisins
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Wash Turkey breast and season with sage and garlic powder. Place in the pot and sprinkle with rosemary. Add water to the sides of the breast. (Don't wash off seasoning) put on heat with 10-11 coals on the bottom and 16-17 coals on top.

One hour later, inject the breast with the moisture from the pot. Then use the injector with out the needle to collect some more juices and using the holes that you have just created with the needle, carefully baste the breast. When you have finished, change your coals out for new ones and adjust the temperature as necessary. You will want to do the basting again.

Make stuffing by melting 3/4 cube of butter in a hot Dutch oven on bottom heat only. Cut up your onion and celery and place in the Dutch oven with the butter and sauté until soft. Cube your bread slices and toss together with sage, salt thyme, pepper and raisins. Stir in with the onion and celery until bread cubes are coated with butter. Take off heat and put in the rest of the butter in pats. Let stand in the warm Dutch oven until you are ready to stuff the roast.

When the roast is done, at least 165 degrees, take it out of the juices and stuff the cavity with the stuffing. (Sometimes the butcher cuts the backbone, which can make it hard to stuff) put the turkey back into the pot with the juices removed. Arrange the rest of the stuffing around the sides of the roast. And rub the roast with oil. Put the lid on and load the lid with coals (none on the bottom) in broiling fashion. Leave on top heat until skin turns golden. (You may wish to skip this step because it dries out the turkey). Before serving you may wish to heat a cube of butter and inject it into the bird.

Take out of the oven and serve on a lid with stuffing. Garnish with parsley and green onions. Or other vegetables. Serves approx. ten

You might want to use the juices for gravy. Or the base of a turkey soup. Also, stuffing a hot bird is easier if you use a pair of cotton gloves with latex gloves over.

Return to the Neighborhood.


Giving Thanks---Asking for Blessings

by Keith Fisher

Do you remember these men, and their wives?

Here they are again, with one difference.

Q. What do these men have in common?

A. They were all willing to serve their country. Each one suffered ridicule for their choices. Each one was great in their own way.

Aren't you glad the election is over? Whether your Candidate was elected or not, perhaps we should take a moment and thank God for those who are willing to serve. While you're down there, maybe you could ask him to bless our leaders with wisdom. With all the problems our country faces, they will need all they can get.

This brings me to the subject at hand. In a conversation at work, I heard two guys talking about their Christmas trees, and whether they were up yet. I asked, "What about Thanksgiving?" The answer went something like, "Oh yeah, it's a great day for dinner, but Christmas is the important holiday." Of course Black Friday was mentioned (the day after Thanksgiving---the biggest shopping day of the year).

Don't get me wrong, the birth of our Savior is the greatest thing that ever happened on earth and we should celebrate, but what about the holiday devoted to giving thanks to God for all we have, for our very lives. In a couple of weeks, many of us will have the opportunity to remember our blessings, greet our loved ones, and yes, eat a great meal. Some of us, through no fault of own, won't have these opportunities. There is still time to make plans. Maybe we can think about things we can do to help those in need.

Let's make Thanksgiving the most important holiday of the year, and Christmas, another day for giving thanks. We can give thanks on December 25th in ways we never dreamed of. We can make this holiday season the most spiritual time of our lives. After all, hasn't God promised blessings to those who are grateful?

In my next blog, I'll start posting recipes you can use in your backyard to make your Thanksgiving great, and you can show your gratitude to those you love.

Happy holidays, and don't forget Veterans Day on Nov 11. It's the day we honor those who were willing to serve our country in ways we may never be able to repay.

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