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Bert Greene's Kitchen

Cutting the Labor at Turkey Time

November 19, 1987|Bert Greene

For some time now, I have harbored a theory that loving relationships do not flower under the unnatural glare of holiday entertaining.

The amount of physical and emotional labor involved in the preparation of a multicourse meal for 10 to 20 guests--even when the stove-top responsibilities are shared--is so overwhelming for most couples that one blames the other for every minor transgression that occurs during the dinner party.

Two close friends admitted that the worst argument of their 10-year marriage took place after Thanksgiving dinner a year ago. The distaff member of the household still recalls the scene with intense bitterness.

My advice as the holiday season begins: Consider a division of labor.

To keep a meal running smoothly, make a blueprint of all the courses along with a note as to who will serve what. Remember, love got you together in the first place and love will keep you there despite dull carving knives or duller visitors.

Another way to make a holiday such as Thanksgiving less onerous is to reduce the courses drastically. This year I plan on serving turkey with a fabulous dressing, a green salad, and that is it . . . until dessert of course.


1 (20-pound) fresh turkey

2 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed

Salt, pepper

Wild Rice and 3-Sausage Dressing

3 strips bacon

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 quart water

1 onion

1 stalk celery, broken

3 sprigs parsley

4 black peppercorns

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream

Remove giblets from turkey and reserve for stock. Wipe turkey out with damp cloth. Rub inside and out with 1 clove garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Stuff cavity with Wild Rice and 3-Sausage Dressing. Sew and truss turkey. Place on rack in roasting pan and lay bacon strips over turkey breast. Cut piece of cheesecloth to fit over turkey. Dip cloth in wine. Place over turkey. Pour excess wine over top. Roast in 325-degree oven 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine giblets (not liver), water, onion, celery, remaining garlic, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt and peppercorns in large saucepan. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer until reduced to 2 cups. Strain.

Baste turkey with stock. Roast at 325 degrees, basting with stock every 30 minutes, until legs move freely and juices run clear when inner thigh is pierced with fork, about 6 hours. Increase oven heat to 375 degrees and remove cheesecloth, basting as you peel it off, during last 30 minutes. Transfer to carving board. Let stand 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, strain turkey drippings, removing excess fat. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Whisk in drippings and cream. Simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over turkey and Wild Rice and 3-Sausage Dressing. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Wild Rice and 3-Sausage Dressing

2/3 cup wild rice, rinsed

2/3 cup long-grain rice

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced

1/4 pound chorizo, quartered lengthwise, sliced

1 (4-ounce) soprasatta, diced

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/2 sweet red pepper, seeded, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or fresh oregano or dash dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or dash dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Add wild rice to 2 3/4 cups boiling, salted water. Return to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until tender, 35 to 60 minutes, depending on rice. Remove cover and raise heat slightly to dry out if water remains.

Meanwhile, cook long-grain rice, stirring once, in large pot of boiling, salted water 12 minutes. Drain in colander. Place colander over 2 inches of boiling water in same pot. Do not let bottom of colander touch water. Cover rice with single layer of paper towels. Steam at least 15 minutes.

While cooking rice, saute Italian sausage in large heavy skillet until lightly browned. Remove with slotted spoon to large bowl. In same pan, saute chorizo until lightly browned. Transfer to bowl. Saute soprasatta in same skillet and transfer to bowl.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. Add onion and sweet red pepper. Cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes. Add butter, parsley, marjoram, thyme and hot pepper sauce.

Add onion/pepper mixture and both rices to sausage mixture. Mix well. Cool before stuffing turkey. Makes dressing for 20- to 22-pound turkey.

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