Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Holiday Turkey (Succulent & Tender )


Historically, Thanksgiving began as a tradition of celebrating the harvest of the year. In the United States, Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day (currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November) has been an annual tradition by presidential proclamation since 1863. On Thanksgiving day, the turkey earns a spotlight on the menu. There are many ways to cook a turkey as there are the people who consume them. The recipe in this video is one that my husband's family has used for many years. It is guaranteed to produce a flavorful, succulent and tender turkey each time. I have also included the recipe for gravy to go with the turkey.

Serving Size: Feeds 12 comfortably.

-Roasting pan (I used a 16 1/2-inch roasting pan).
-Sharp knife.
-Whisk or flat whisk (for your gravy).
-Fine mesh strainer/sieve or fat separator (for your gravy).
-Basting brush or baster.
-Zester or grater (for zesting your lemon).
-Butcher's/ kitchen twine (for trussing your turkey).

**You will need a turkey. I used a 12lb. turkey.**

Instructions for preparing the turkey:
Carefully rinse both the cavity and the outside surface of the turkey using cold tap water. Let the turkey sit in a big bowl in order to drain off the water. Pat the skin of the turkey completely dry using paper towels. Season the turkey's cavity liberally with salt and pepper. Then proceed to stuff the turkey's cavity with the following:
-2 lemons, cut in half crosswise.
-A sprig of rosemary.
-2 medium-sized onions, cut in half crosswise.

***Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees Celcius)***

Ingredients for compound butter:
-1 stick (12 tablespoons) softened butter, at room temperature.
-Fresh sage, finely chopped (about 8 leaves).
-Fresh rosemary, finely chopped (about 4 sprigs).
-Fresh thyme , finely chopped (about 6 sprigs).
-The zest of 1 lemon (the yellow part of the skin).
-1/2 teaspoon Salt.
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

Instructions for making the compound butter:
-Using a fork, combine the above ingredients and set aside.
Ingredients for browned butter with sage:
-4 tablespoons butter (the one you had set aside).
-8-10 fresh sage leaves (whole)

Instructions for making brown butter with sage:
-In a small pot over medium heat, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and heat until the butter begins to splatter and turn into a light brown color. The butter will release a wonderful nutty aroma and little brown solids will form at the bottom of the pot.
-Add the sage leaves and twirl the pan around to coat the leaves with the brown butter. Return the pot to the heat and cook just until the sage leaves begin to appear crisp.
-Remove the pot from the stove and remove the sage leaves from the pot. You now have sage-scented brown butter. You will later use this to brush the skin of the turkey. Set it aside.
We will use the compound butter we have just created to season the turkey. We will create little pockets between the skin of the turkey and it's flesh. It is in these little pockets that we shall place the compound butter. This is how we'll do it:
-Gently loosen the turkey's skin with your fingers to create pockets in which you'll stuff the compound butter as shown in the video (be careful not to break the skin).
-Insert the butter into the pockets, hold the skin of the turkey firmly with one hand and use the other hand to gently spread the butter underneath the turkey's skin (don't  forget to spread the butter to the thigh area as well.
-Using a basting brush, apply the sage-scented browned butter over the entire skin surface of the turkey. (don't forget the wings).
-Tuck the turkey's wings under  themselves (see video). This will prevent them from burning as you roast the turkey.
-Truss (tie) the turkey legs together using the kitchen twine (see video).
-Carefuly transfer the turkey onto the baking pan.
-Insert an oven-safe instant-read thermometer to the breast of the turkey, being careful to keep the thermometer away from the bone. This will help you keep an eye on the internal temperature of the turkey as it cooks. Loosely tent the baking pan with the foil as shown in the video.

-Place your baking pan with the turkey on the second rack from the bottom of your oven.
-Baste every 30 minutes after the first 1 1/2 hours of the turkey being in the oven. This will prevent your turkey from getting dry. This simply means using either a basting brush or a baster to pour the juices collecting at the bottom of the pan as the turkey bakes, back over the turkey (like you'd wash a baby sitting in a tub with the water that's already in the tub).
*** Bake for 20 minutes per pound of turkey. The classic instructions call for the turkey to be roasted at 20 minutes per pound at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. However, I like the skin on my turkey crispy, so I roast it at 350 degrees F (180 degrees Celcius). I roasted mine for 3 1/2 hours.***
-In the last 30 minutes of roasting your turkey, remove the foil and let the skin brown. To help with the browning, you can sprinkle and brush the skin with some sweet paprika.
-Once cooked, let the turkey rest for at least 25-30 mins before you curve it so that it re-absorbs it's juices and stays moist.
-When well cooked, the internal temperature of the turkey shoul read 180 degrees Fahrenheit. When you cut where the thigh meets the breast, the juices should run clear with no bloody residue at all. The skin should be crisp, and the inside of the turkey should be moist, but with no pink showing (no traces of blood).
Once cooked, transfer your turkey to your serving platter, loosely cover it with aluminum foil and let it rest. Now is the time to prepare your gravy.

Ingredients for Preparing Gravy:
-Sprig of rosemary.
-1/2 an onion roughly quartered (I used one half of the onions that baked in the turkey's cavity).
-1/2 cup of chicken stock or drinking wine (I used 1/2 cup of Riesling that I had).
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour)
-1 cup heavy/double cream.
-3 cups chicken stock.
-salt & pepper to taste.

Instructions for preparing the gravy:
-Place the baking pan in which you cooked your turkey over two eyes on your stove (see video)
-Add the onion and rosemary and cook until the onions are softened.
-Pour in the 1/2 cup of chicken stock or white wine into the pan to deglaze it (help loosen the stuck on bits at the bottom of the pan). Use a wooden spoon to do this. If you're using wine, let this cook for 3-4 minutes to help evaporate the alcohol and get rid of the alcohol smell.
-Using a fine mesh strainer/sieve, placed over a medium pot, strain the liquids in the roasting pan into the pot. Discard the rosemary and onion pieces caught in the strainer/sieve.
-Use either a ladle or a fat separator to get rid of some of the fat in the liquid that's in the pot.
-Return the pot to the stove and heat on medium-high heat.
-In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and the heavy cream together to form a smooth paste (there should be no lumps).
-Pour half of this flour/cream paste into the pot with the drippings/wine and stir vigorously till smooth. Add the remainder of the flour/cream paste into the pot and stir continuously until very smooth. You now have gravy.
-Add the 3 cups of chicken stock into the pot. Taste for saltiness and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the gravy to simmer for 15-20 minutes. This will help rid your gravy of any raw-flour taste, and also give your gravy some body.

Your turkey and gravy are now ready to be enjoyed. Drizzle the gravy over your perfectly roasted, succulent turkey and some mashed potatoes or stuffing. More holiday recipes to come. Enjoy!
TIPS for roasting a perfect turkey:
-If you're cooking a frozen turkey, the safest way to thaw a bird is in the fridge. For it to fully defrost, count on about 5 hrs / pound of turkey in the fridge.
-For crisper skin, completely dry the skin with paper towels and unwrap the turkey from it's packaging the day before you plan on cooking it.