An Herbal Thanksgiving Tale

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You can check out the Lemon Verbena Lady at her blog

When you think of Thanksgiving, I hope you think of all the good food, your family and your friends. (And maybe a little sage in the stuffing of your turkey.) One thing you don’t tend to think of is Peru. About 26 years ago my adoptive mother was in the hospital so my friend and her husband invited me to their Thanksgiving dinner party in Peru. (That is how I met The Herbal Husband!)

Of course, Thanksgiving is not a traditionally Peruvian holiday, but The Herbal Husband loves to eat well! He also never passes up an invitation for good food! I do not remember exactly what the menu was we had to eat that fateful Thanksgiving, but I do remember that our hosts served wild rice. (They vacationed every summer in Minnesota and a capon.) Neither The Herbal Husband nor I have much family in our immediate area, so we usually are on our own for the holidays. Even if we are invited to a friend’s house or we are out of town, we always have to have Thanksgiving dinner of own. Love those leftovers! We just cook a turkey breast since most of the time it is just the two of us, but I think as long as you aren’t stuffing the bird, you can do this with a whole bird as well.  If you have to have stuffing, you could make a compound butter and place it under the skin of the bird for maximum flavor. I have included an herbal butter recipe below. This is the way we have found the turkey is the most moist and tender.

Defrost your turkey in the refrigerator as recommended in the instructions. I rinse the turkey in cold water and pat it dry. Make sure you take out any turkey parts and plastic bags from the interior. That has gotten me in trouble in the past! With the turkey breast you usually do not have to worry about that. Here is the recipe we have used for several years now.

A fall sage wreath at Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

Recipe for a Great Turkey:

• Roasting pan
• Stick of butter
• Can of cola
• 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, or more if you like it sweeter
• Salt, pepper and garlic powder
• Turkey breast
• Small lemon
• Small onion
• Full hand of sage, thyme, chives, oregano and rosemary

1. Set oven at 325 degrees.

2. Leave cover on the roasting pan for most of time.

3. Mix butter, cola and hoisin sauce, which you can find this in the Asian section of your supermarket, for basting in a 4 cup measuring cup.

4. Baste every 15 minutes until done.

5. Use salt, pepper and garlic powder on top of the turkey breast.

7. Place a small lemon, cut in half or quarters and a small onion in quarters, a hand full of sage, thyme, chives, oregano and rosemary inside the cavity. You may have to juggle the lemon and onion parts around to hold in the herbs. Again, you could make a compound butter with the herbs, lemon zest and butter and place it under the skin and then stuff your turkey as you usually would do.

8. We cook a 6 1/2 pound breast (unstuffed with stuffing) for 4 hours and it was perfectly moist. It may be more time than you think is necessary, but The Herbal Husband likes his meat and poultry well done!

Here is a recipe for an herbal butter I especially like:

Herbal Butter

• 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter or margarine, softened
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (your choice)
• 1 clove of garlic, pressed

1. Finely chop herbs and mix into softened butter, add other ingredients.  Put in a covered container.  Refrigerate for 24 hours before using.

2. Herb butter may be kept refrigerated for two weeks or frozen for up to six months.  Put butter on vegetables, pasta, fish, meat, poultry, bread, etc.

Courtesy of  Pete Louquet, Tom Hamlin and Don Haynie, Spring and Summer Herbal Sampler, Raphine, VA:  Mid Valley Press, 1993, page 10.

You can easily double this recipe if you need more butter or butter spread and who doesn’t especially at the holidays!

The picture at the beginning of this posting is not my handiwork, but a wreath from the Fall Flower Show at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens several years ago.  Life in the Gardens:  Frabel Glass at Phipps is on now for those readers in the Pittsburgh area.  A very enjoyable day for your family over the Thanksgiving holidays.  Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends from Lemon Verbena Lady and The Herbal Husband!

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