Talkin’ Turkey 2010

In this morning’s Daily Globe, subscribers to the print edition will find the annual King Turkey Day special section.

For the past several years, we’ve used that section to take a look back at the rich history of King Turkey Day, sharing stories and photos from 50 years ago. As the unofficial King Turkey Day reporter, it’s been my job to compile that information, and I hope you find it as interesting as I do.

I was especially intrigued this year to look back at 1960 — the year then-vice presidential candidate and future president Lyndon Johnson graced our celebration. Although it was several years before my birth, in the recesses of my memory, I remembered it was the year that rain put a damper on the celebration, due to a story DotMom often told about          older brother Marty. During my recent research, I found that she also shared it as a brief anecdote in her Mixing & Musing column following Turkey Day 1960. Marty evidently was a bit disappointed with the canceling of many of the 1960 festivities and voiced his annoyance as they walked back home from downtown:

Our pessimistic 5-year-old kicked a Turkey Day puddle and forecast, “Hmph, I suppose it’ll rain on Halloween, too!”

Hopefully, history will not repeat itself for this year’s celebration. I’m imploring the weatherman for a sunny forecast once again for KTD 2010.

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to cover the “Looney Lutherans” event at Westminster Presbyterian Church. An offshoot of the popular “Church Basement Ladies” play, the Looney Lutheran entertainers celebrated Minnesotans’ quirks and extolled the virtues of hotdish.

So, of course, the menu featured hotdish, and presiding over the kitchen was “Perky Presbyterian” and consummate cook Bernice Camery. Bernice offered to share the recipe, which on that day was made with chicken, but turkey could also be used to fit in with our community’s celebration theme.

Gobblin’ Good Hotdish

In a large bowl, combine 2 to 3 cups cubed chicken or turkey; 2 cans cream of chicken soup (or 1 can cream of chicken and 1 can cream of mushroom); 1 cup sour cream; 1 cup grated cheddar cheese; 1 cup Minute Rice, uncooked; and 1 cup frozen peas (optional — gives it color). Mixture may need to be thinned with milk or chicken broth.

Place mixture in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Top with 1 roll of Ritz crackers, crushed, to which you may add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds. Drizzle with ¾ stick margarine, melted.

Bake, uncovered, at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Bernice notes: Can be made the day before, covered and refrigerated, and baked the next day.

Here’s another turkey tidbit I’ve been saving in anticipation of KTD week. It was posted a while back in the Lagniappe comments section by an online reader, identified as Mary Klopstad. Mary writes: “I had a co-worker share a recipe for the Crockpot that I tried on the Weber grill, and it was awesome and super easy.”

Turkey on the Barbie

Take one thawed turkey breast (approximately 8 pounds) and place in a foil pan. Add to that one inch of water.

On the stove, melt 2 sticks of butter. (“Yes, I said butter, no substitute,” insists Mary. “Makes for better flavor.”) To the butter, add 2 packages Hidden Valley Ranch dry dressing mix. Stir well and pour over the top of the turkey.

Cover with foil and cook over indirect heat until the turkey is pull-off-the-bone done; approximately 2 hours or until thermometer reaches 185 degrees.

Remove the turkey, saving the juices, and debone, shredding the meat. Return the meat to the juice and let it warm through, “and you have the best hot turkey sandwich meat,” raves Mary. “Moist, flavorful and oh so good.”

The turkey can also be made in the slow cooker, Mary added, cooking on high for approximately six hours.