Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tackling the Turkey

Thanksgiving turkey - with recipeImage by master phillip via Flickr

Thanksgiving can be CRAZY stressful....if you let it. Keep this in mind: pretty much everything can be made in advance and finished off on the big day, so you can spend time with your family and friends.

Let's start with the turkey, don't be afraid, just because it may be big, doesn't mean it has to be scary.

Purchasing: Buy a fresh turkey, it will make a difference in what the final product tastes like. Of course, if you can even get a turkey slaughtered for you, that would be way cool, but hey, work with what you have. Plus, you don't have to worry about defrosting the turkey at home, yuck, what a nightmare.

Flavor Prep: Do this the night before. Combine: Olive oil and softened butter, fresh rosemary and thyme, chopped, poultry seasoning and dried sage, salt and pepper. I haven't given you amounts, it's going to depend on how big your bird is. Set aside. Chop 2 onions into quarters, you don't even have to take the skin off. Chop 2 garlic heads in half, skin on. Set the veggies aside.

Getting Dirty: Take your turkey and remove all the stuff from the inside, you know the gizzards and neck etc. Wash your turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Find the ...ahem...large hole between the thighs and slide your fingers in between the skin and meat of the bird on the breasts. Be gentle and continue separating the skin all the way over the breasts, being careful not to tear the skin. Take some of your rub and slather underneath the skin, then all over the top of the skin, the thighs and the rest of the bird. Grab your onions and garlic and stuff the inside of the bird with them, pack them in there!

Final Evening Prep: Tuck the wings under where the neck would be, tie the thighs together with string and place your bird on the roasting rack in the pan. Pour some cooking (non alcoholic) white wine, and chicken broth into the roasting pan, add in a few bay leaves, some more dried sage and cover your turkey for the night and po into the fridge.

Morning Prep: About an hour before you need to put the turkey into the oven, pull it out of the fridge and do a technique called "icing the breasts". Since dark meat takes longer to come to the same temp as the white meat, we want to keep the breasts chilled while the rest of the bird comes to room temp. So fill a plastic bag with ice and place on the breasts while you preheat the oven. Right before you pop the bird in the oven, remove the bag of ice and drizzle the whole bird lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with more salt and pepper.

Cooking: High heat, around 425 for about 20-30 minutes to get the sking crispy, then lower the temp to 325 or 350 for the rest of the cooking time. Of course, cooking time will vary, but you are looking for an internal temp of 165. Don't baste, if you keep opening the door, the temp will lower and your cooking time will increase. If you need, in the middle of the cooking process, add more white wine or broth to the bottom of the roasting pan to keep it moist.

Finishing: Remove your turkey, cover lightly with foil and let it sit for at least 15 minutes to let the juices redistribute. Carve and enjoy!

*You can most definately do this with chicken, I have done it many times before and it turns out great, good luck!

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