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How to Slow Roast a Turkey (Part II)

How to Slow Roast a Turkey (Part II)

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.

  • If using a brine bag, place the brine bag inside a large dish and fold the edges over to keep the bag open.
  • Put turkey in brine bag. Save the giblets and neck for later, which you will not brine, but will roast with the rest of the bird to help make good gravy.
  • Add the following to the turkey (if using a brine bag, all the liquids may not fit, so play it by ear) (these ingredients are taken from the Martha Stewart website, BTW):

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

  • I brine outside of the fridge on Wednesday night (and so does Uncle Daniel). This allows the turkey to come to room temperature, which means it cooks more evenly. Martha Stewart brines in the fridge. You can decide, but just know that no one has gotten sick from my (or Daniel’s) turkey yet (knock on wood).

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.

  • For example: If I am cooking a 16 lb turkey and want to have dinner at 5pm, when do I put in the turkey?
  • The turkey needs to rest for 25-30 minutes before eating, so it should come out at 4:30pm.
  • It will need to roast for 6:45 hours, because it’s 16lbs, allowing 25 minutes per pound.
  • Working backwards, my turkey should be in the oven around 9:00am (allowing about 30 minutes of buffer 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!

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A few recipes that you might like for thanksgiving!

A few recipes that you might like for thanksgiving!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I FREAKING love Turkey Day! Oh whatta day! A day devoted entirely to cooking, setting pretty tables, drinking wine and hanging with good friends. Good golly, Ms. Molly!

Here are three things that I have already made on the blog that you might want to consider adding to your Thanksgiving table:

Rustic Pear Tart. Make this. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. My boyfriend’s favorite dessert, and probably one of mine (choosing a favorite dessert is like choosing your favorite child – or at least what I imagine choosing a child would be like, if, you know, I had kids).

 

Pumpkin Streusel Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake.

This thing was WAY more than a pound. It was probably closer to 4 lbs of delicious cake.

 This thing is so amazingly yummy. Fairly easy to make and very impressive.

 

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Nom nom nom nom!

Rachel

How to Slow Roast a Turkey (Part I)

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!!!

Love,

Rachel

Last Year’s Thanksgiving Post Follows

The menu:

Nosching plate of cheese, prosciutto and dried figs.

Slow roasted Turkey

Mashed Potatoes

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

Gravy

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.

Slow roasting the turkey. A 16 pound bird took about 6.5 hours.

2. Take dog for a run. Dog chases and barks at squirrels.

Chloe, dreaming big.

3. Maturely talk about our Thanksgiving dish preferences.

Debate about whether stuffing gets roasted inside the bird or outside. Outside the bird won.

4. Indulge a little while cooking.

Simple math: Case of wine + friends + cheese = wonderful Turkey day.

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.

To nosch while cooking.

6. Maturely discuss whether we like our mashed potatoes lumpy or smooth.

Settling another debate…with brussel sprout stalk.

6. Baste the turkey a few times.

You want me to do what with this?

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.

Wait, Amelia! Can’t eat the turkey until there’s gravy!

7. Torment the dog.

Chloe wants dark meat!

8. Admire your handiwork. You can see the slit in the breast where I stuffed the bird with rosemary, thyme and sage.

Turkey!

9. Carve the turkey.

Light or dark meat?

10. Admire your spread.

Dinner time!

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!

Gobble gobble,

Rachel

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin. I love chocolate. I love infinity three kinds of chocolate. So of course, I love triple chocolate pumpkin pie. And you will too. I wanted to blog about this pie so badly that I put down my schoolwork (reading a book on cyberwar – actually pretty interesting) to share this with my faithful readers. Some of those faithful readers may need a serious chocolate fix right now!

This pie is SUPER rich and incredibly good. To be honest, it’s a little hard to handle after a full turkey dinner. But, by breakfast time, it hits the spot. (Don’t judge me: You know you have pie for breakfast on the Friday after Thanksgiving.) The pumpkin/chocolate custard is almost more akin to chocolate mousse than your standard pumpkin pie filling. Plus, the super chocolately crust (especially if made with Trader Joe’s Chocolate Cat Cookies as suggested) is incredible. I could eat a bowl of the uncooked crust mix all by itself (granted, its just crumbed cookies, butter and a little sugar – what’s not to love?).

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart. Her pie is pretty good, but I think mine may be better.

  • For the Crust

    • 2 cups finely ground chocolate animal cookies (I use Trader Joe’s Chocolate Cat Cookies, which are AMAZING)
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3 ounces dark chocolate (with high cacao content), finely chopped
  • For the Filling

    • 6 more ounces dark or semisweet chocolate (either with same, or slightly lower cacao), chopped
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
    • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
    • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • Ground cloves

    For the Topping

    • 1 ounce milk chocolate, melted

1. Make the crust. Preheat over to 350F. Combine all crust ingredients EXCEPT THE CHOCOLATE together into bowl. Then press into the bottom of 9.5 inch pie pan. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes.

2. While crust is still warm from oven, sprinkle the 3 oz of dark chocolate over the crust, and place in oven for another 1 minute.

Chopping chocolate.

Then sprinkle the chocolate over the warm chocolately crust:

Creating a chocolate shell to hold our delicious chocolately filling.

3. Once the chocolate has sat in the shell in the oven for 1 minute, smooth the melted chocolate over the crust with a spoon. Set aside.

Should look like this:

Chocolate shell spread over chocolate crust. Are you drooling yet?

4. Reduce over temp to 325F. Make the filling – melt together the 6 oz chocolate and butter in a double boiler with a large bowl, or in the microwave. If using the microwave, heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each 30 seconds. Otherwise, you may burn the chocolate. Set aside for a bit.

5. Mix pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves in a medium bowl. Whisk about 1/3 of this mixture into the chocolate mixture until completely mixed. Then mix in the rest. Stir until completely incorporated.

6. Place pie dish on rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into the pie. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Until the center is set, but still wobbles a little. Let cool.

7. Before serving, drizzle with the 1 oz milk chocolate. You can melt this in a double boiler, or in the microwave, stirring after 30 second time intervals. The drizzles in the picture below are a little wider than I would have liked, but I waited to melt and drizzle until after T-day dinner, so I had very little patience. If I had warmed the chocolate a little more, the drizzles would be finer and more lovely. At that point, I just needed some chocolate to counter-act the turkey. Time was of the essence. There was serious risk of starving. Seriously. For serial.

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie... MMMMMMMMM

Enjoy!

Languidly lounging in a chocolate coma,

Rachel

Happy Thanksgiving! (And briefly, how to slow roast a turkey).

Happy Thanksgiving! (And briefly, how to slow roast a turkey).

Yes, I realize I am a few days late. But I was so busy making Thanksgiving food, and then even busier eating Thanksgiving food, that it took me a day or two to get my act together to share about this Thanksgiving. And what a lovely holiday it was!? A delightful combination of wine, dessert and friends. I think this photo sums up Thanksgiving perfectly:

The essence of Thanksgiving: dessert and friends... (Clockwise from bottom: pumpkin pie, apple-cran pie, triple chocolate pumpkin pie and super gingery gingerbread. All with whipped cream).

This year, I spent Thanksgiving in Baltimore with my bestie, Amelia. Amelia and I went to middle school and high school together, so when we hang out it’s like we revert to being 16 years old and it’s SUPER fun. Amelia and I were in charge of cooking for the four of us.

The menu:

Nosching plate of cheese, prosciutto and dried figs.

Slow roasted Turkey

Mashed Potatoes

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

Gravy

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.

Slow roasting the turkey. A 16 pound bird took about 6.5 hours.

2. Take dog for a run. Dog chases and barks at squirrels.

Chloe, dreaming big.

3. Maturely talk about our Thanksgiving dish preferences.

Debate about whether stuffing gets roasted inside the bird or outside. Outside the bird won.

4. Indulge a little while cooking.

Simple math: Case of wine + friends + cheese = wonderful Turkey day.

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.

To nosch while cooking.

6. Maturely discuss whether we like our mashed potatoes lumpy or smooth.

Settling another debate...with brussel sprout stalk.

6. Baste the turkey a few times.

You want me to do what with this?

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.

Wait, Amelia! Can't eat the turkey until there's gravy!

7. Torment the dog.

Chloe wants dark meat!

8. Admire your handiwork. You can see the slit in the breast where I stuffed the bird with rosemary, thyme and sage.

Turkey!

9. Carve the turkey.

Light or dark meat?

10. Admire your spread.

Dinner time!

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!

Gobble gobble,

Rachel

Super Gingery Gingerbread

Super Gingery Gingerbread

Have you ever bitten into something and happily sighed, “This tastes like Christmas,” as you smiled to yourself (even though you may be Jewish and don’t technically celebrate Christmas)? Well, this super gingery gingerbread tastes like Christmas. BUT, it would also be a great addition to any Thanksgiving dessert table, which is why I am posting this now, before I have gotten around to posting the recipes from my Epic Dinner Party. I don’t want people to miss an opportunity to enjoy this easy to make and INSANELY delicious dessert.

Super Gingery Gingerbread

Unfortunately, someone dropped my digital camera on the ground the day before I made this, so I had to take the pictures with my phone. For that I apologize. Those pictures do not do this WONDERFUL dessert justice. The camera was a gift, so I guess it’s easy come, easy go.

Regardless, this gingerbread is warm, sweet, dense, spicy, tangy and tantalizes all of the senses (I am not joking here). The recipe comes from Jorge at Cafe Navarro in Eugene, OR, that unfortunately is out of business. However, if you all make this bread, its legacy will live on in deliciousness forever. Seriously, make this bread. And then take pictures, and send them to me so that I can put better photos of this delectable dessert on my blog, because Super Gingery Gingerbread deserves better.

Upclose of Super Gingery Gingerbread - do you see that big chuck of candied ginger, front and center?

Super Gingery Gingerbread is good on its own, but it is elevated to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL when served warm with a dollop of cool freshly-made whipped cream. The warm/cool combination, and the spiciness of the bread contrast with the creamy sweet of the whipped cream. I am telling you, it is out of this world. Boyfriend, who has a very discerning taste, was a little hesitant about the gingerbread on its own (I think he never had molasses before or something), but when I put some whipped cream on the top he was all about this dessert. Seriously people. (And if you don’t have whipped cream, a little bit of premium vanilla ice cream could do in a pinch, but the whipped cream is still preferable).

Recipe Follows:

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