Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey with Pecan-Cherry Stuffing

Normally with this blog I wait until after I've eaten all of something that I've made in the crock pot, so that I can accurately evaluate the calories and the cost per serving of the recipe.  However, in this case because I made a special crock pot Thanksgiving meal, I though it would be more appropriate to blog about the recipe this week, even though I won't have the same analysis that I would otherwise.  (Also: warning, this will be a very image-heavy post because I took a lot of pictures this time.)

Since I was staying at school for Thanksgiving this year, I thought I'd take the opportunity to make a Thanksgiving meal for myself, but using the crock pot!  I've admired the "Turkey with Pecan-Cherry Stuffing" recipe in the Crock Pot Incredibly Easy Recipes cookbook for a while now, but because it is only supposed to cook for five or six hours, I felt like it should be done on a day that I was staying home.  As you'll see, this is not one of those ones that you can just leave on and let cook as long as you want.

As you can see from the first picture above, there is not a lot of pre-preparation to do, especially if you get pecans that are already chopped like I did.  The only thing I had to do was cook rice, and I got brown rice for this recipe to be healthy.  While the rice was cooking, I peeled the skin off the turkey breast and cut slices in it, only going part-way through the breast though.  As you'll see from the picture from the book below, I was concerned about the look of this, but this was the shape of my turkey breast so I just kept following the recipe.  The recipe says that the breast should be 3-4 lbs, and this was about 3.9, so it should've been fine.

After the rice cooked, I mixed together the "stuffing."  I think I may have had too much rice for the recipe though: it calls for two cups of cooked rice.  I used one cup dry, assuming that it would make two cups cooked, but it's possible that it cooked up to more than that.  Thus, when I added the pecans, cherries, and poultry seasoning it didn't seem like everything ended up in the right proportions so I added more pecans and cherries.

This is what the stuffing looks like all mixed together, before I "stuffed" the turkey.

Now what you're supposed to do is stuff the stuffing where you sliced part-way through the turkey.  I actually made some more slices once I started stuffing the turkey because I had so much stuffing left over.  Then I tried to transfer the turkey to the crock pot, but it was so unwieldy that the only way I was able to get it into the crock pot in one piece was with my roommate's help!

As you can see from this picture, I ended up just putting the rest of the stuffing on top of the turkey to cook in the crock pot with the rest.  I didn't want to just throw the extra away, but the spoon had been going back and forth into the raw turkey breast so I wasn't about to do anything with it without cooking it.  So, the recipe says, to cook the turkey breast on low "5 to 6 hours or until [the] turkey registers 170... on [a] meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of [the] breast, not touching stuffing."  After 6 hours I tested the turkey in two places: the first registered 170, but the second was only 160, so I decided to leave it on while I made the rest of my Thanksgiving dinner: green beans and mashed potatoes.

The last part of the recipe is a simple sauce for the turkey breast, used instead of gravy.  I made it with apricot preserves (though the recipe says you could use peach or plum also) and Worcestershire sauce.

This gets mixed together and spread on top of the turkey.  Then you let it sit for 5 more minutes, covered, before taking it out to serve.  Of course, the problem with having such a large turkey breast that it took two people to get it into the crock pot is getting it out after I've taken my roommate to the airport!  To say that it was difficult would be an understatement.

This is the train wreck it looked like after I took it out of the crock pot.

And yet, this is what it is supposed to look like according to the cookbook!

Of course in spite of the disastrous appearance, as a meal, this was really good!  I made roasted-garlic mashed potatoes and green beans to go with it.  The only problem is that the turkey came out a little dry.  This was completely my fault, however.  I shouldn't have let my paranoia about cooking the turkey enough get the best of me when I tested the temperature.  I think the turkey was probably done... I just let it cook too long while I was making the rest of the meal.  So if I were to do this again, I'd stop after six hours, for sure.

So, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, normally I'd tell you about the number of calories per serving and the cost per serving, but since I have not finished eating this, I can't tell you how many servings it will take.  The cookbook claims that it will make 8 servings, but I honestly think I'll be eating this until I go home for Christmas break!  So, it's definitely a good recipe to make if you want it to last.

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