I don’t have much time to write a long post now, but just decorated my first* Christmas tree and wanted to share. (*I am Jewish – on occasion we would decorate the ficus, but it was never the real deal…)
I apologize. My first post about slow roasting a turkey was a little vague. I WAS JUST SO EXCITED THAT IT’S THANKSGIVING! I am controlling my excitement now. Here is a step-by-step description of how I plan to get my turkey from the store to the table. Lots of what I (now) know comes from trial and error, and even more of what I know comes from my wonderful uncle, Daniel, who may just be the master of the turkey, and was kind enough to share his turkey tips with me. Thanks, Daniel!
1. Don’t be too intimidated. Roasting a turkey isn’t easy, but it is doable. Take a deep breath. Prepare WELL in advance so you know how long each thing will take. We can do this together.
2. If you buy a frozen turkey, it will probably take at least two days in the fridge to thaw. This means that by Monday morning at the latest your turkey should be in the FRIDGE not the freezer. This will give it time to defrost by Wednesday when you want to start brining.
3. On Wednesday evening, start brining the turkey. You will want either a brine bag, or a giant stock pot to do this. Brine bags are inexpensive to buy, but sometimes you will need two sets of hands when filling the brine bag.
7 quarts (28 cups) water
1 1/2 cups coarse salt
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
1 bottle dry Riesling
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch fresh thyme
4. In the morning, preheat the oven to 220F. To slow roast, it often takes about 20-25 minutes of cooking time for each 1lb of turkey. This means a 20 lb turkey can take about 7-8 hours. So figure out when you need to start roasting, but always allow buffer time – better to have more roasting time than to not have enough time.
5. Put turkey into pan WITHOUT stuffing. When slow roasting, the bird must be empty. Rub the turkey down with a mixture of the following: 1/2 cup melted butter or olive oil, 1/3 cup coarse sea salt, 2 tablespoons ground pepper, 2-3 gloves crushed garlic. Put half of a quartered onion (2 quarters of an onion) and a clove of garlic inside the cavity. Rub the mixture under the skin – especially getting the butter under the skin too. Butter under the skin is a really good thing.
6. Cut a slit in each breast, towards the outside of the breast. Stuff the slit with a clove of garlic and fresh herbs (think sage, rosemary, thyme or whatever fresh savory herbs you have on hand). This will help flavor the meat. To help visual, I do the slit horizontally, coming in from near the arm pit, close to the plane of the ribs. You want it to be about 2 or 3 inches deep.
7. Make sure turkey is BREAST SIDE DOWN in the pan. The oven is hotter towards the top, so we don’t want to dry out the meat by cooking it breast side up. It keeps the breast juicier. Bonus: you don’t have to bind the legs when it’s breast side down.
8. Put giblets and neck in bottom of pan. If you like, you can put a halved onion in the bottom of the pan too for extra flavor.
9. Put pan in hot oven. Baste every one or two hours.
10. Check the temperature. Insert the thermometer into thickest part of the breast, making sure not to touch the bone. When the breast is 145F, flip the bird and continue roasting. At 220F, the skin doesn’t get crispy. If you like crispy skin, once the breast is about 155F turn the oven up to 400F to brown the skin for 10 minutes.
11. Take turkey out of oven when breast is 155F (and browned). Some prefer to remove when breast reaches 160F, but that is risking drying out temperatures, if you ask Daniel. (“When the bird is in that long, even the dark meat gets done.”) Either way, the legs should be “loose” when pulled on. Give the leg a wiggle and see how it feels. Should feel loose.
12. Remove turkey from pan and let rest on serving platter/carving plate for 25 minutes before carving. The temperature will stabilize. Pour the pan juices into a medium-ish stockpot, in which you will make the gravy.
13. While the turkey is resting, deglaze the pan. If you used an actual metal pan (as opposed to a disposable pan), you can put the pan right over the stove top. I like to use a little white wine for deglazing. Pour all the deglazed goodness into the gravy pot.
14. Put the gravy pot on low heat. While it’s heating, in a small bowl mix about 2 heaping tablespoons of flour and 1/4 cup of pan juices to form a paste. Slowly add more juices until the flour mixture is smooth and about the consistency of molasses. Then mix the flour mixture into the pan juices. NOTE: Do not add flour directly to the pan juices. This will create lumps. Stir the gravy over low heat until it thickens. Add turkey or chicken stock to make it go further (I like having a LOT of gravy). If it gets too watery, you can cook it more and/or mix more gravy with another spoonful of flour, then add the flour mixture back into the pan. Season gravy with salt and pepper as needed. Some people strain the gravy, but I don’t. I don’t know how Daniel does his gravy…
15. Carve turkey. Serve with lots of gravy (and all the other fixings. Duh!).
16. Pat yourself on the back. You did it!
It’s that time of year again! THANKSGIVING!!! What a freaking awesome holiday, right? I mean, it involves food, booze, dessert, more food and more booze. Plus like family and friends and stuff. Did I mention dessert?
Last year I slow roasted a turkey and it freaking rocked my world. So I am going to repost the majority of that post below, including last year’s menu.
Happy Early Turkey Day!!!
Last Year’s Thanksgiving Post Follows
Nosching plate of cheese, prosciutto and dried figs.
Slow roasted Turkey
Moose sausage stuffing (OMG soooo good!) (cornbread stuffing with sauted onions/celery, garlic, fresh herbs, dried cranberries soaked in chicken broth, pecans, and moose sausage flown in all the way from Alaska. This stuff was crazy good.)
Roasted brussel sprouts and carrots
Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish (fresh cranberries, whole orange, ground ginger and sugar blended in food processor, then add chopped pecans and pomegranate seeds. Let sit over night if possible).
Canned Cranberry (of course)
Dessert: Classic pumpkin pie, triple chocolate pumpkin pie, apple-cran pie with streusel topping and super gingery gingerbread. Yes, I realize there are as many desserts as people for dinner, but that was planned. How else would you do it? A post on desserts will happen in the future (hopefully).
Amelia and I spent the day in the kitchen on Thursday (after staying up late on Wednesday making multiple pies). Here is a photo journal of what we did that day:
1. Remove turkey from basting bag. Turkey had been sitting in brine with pepper corns, tons of salt, fresh herbs (sage, rosemary and thyme), onions and bay leaves. Rub turkey down with butter/salt/pepper mixture, stick 1 quartered onion into cavity, insert fresh herbs into turkey breast (make incision into breast and insert herbs), also insert herbs under the skin, directly onto the meat. Put into 220F degree oven breast-side down. Baste every hour or so. When bird is about 140F or 145F, flip right-side up. Remove once breast temperature reaches 155F – you may want to cook for last hour at 300F to get the skin a little darker, because the skin doesn’t crisp up at 220F. Let sit for 20 minutes before carving.
2. Take dog for a run. Dog chases and barks at squirrels.
3. Maturely talk about our Thanksgiving dish preferences.
4. Indulge a little while cooking.
5. Indulge a little more. Four types of cheese (a triple cream, cambozola, something soaked in wine whose name escapes me right now, and a mushroom brie) served with prosciutto and dried figs.
6. Maturely discuss whether we like our mashed potatoes lumpy or smooth.
6. Baste the turkey a few times.
7. Check the turkey for doneness. Bird should be 155F. You can also make the gravy once the bird is out (which is what is happening in the background of the picture below). Most people check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Amelia chose to use the old-fashioned way, the face thermometer.
7. Torment the dog.
8. Admire your handiwork. You can see the slit in the breast where I stuffed the bird with rosemary, thyme and sage.
9. Carve the turkey.
10. Admire your spread.
11. Do whatever dorky/endearing traditions that your family requires. We all had to have first bites that included a little bit of everything, and we went around the table and said what we were thankful for. I am thankful for cranberry sauce! And you know… friends, family… etc…
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!