Tuesday, November 21, 2006

World's Best Turkey

What is the best recipe for making a turkey on Thanksgiving?

There seems to be several opinions, but most are basically a version of one of these four.

Pick your favorite. Mine is at the end.

We have;

The Simple

Simplest and Best Turkey Recipe Ever

It's the one I recommend to anyone doing a turkey for the first time, although even experienced cooks will be surprised at how good their turkey will come out.
Get a big ole turkey.
Take out all the junk inside.
Wash the turkey thoroughly and then dry it off.
Using a paintbrush, coat the turkey with olive oil.
Slide the turkey into a brown paper bag. Staple shut.
Sprinkle the bag lightly with water. The bag won't burn because paper burns at Fahrenheit 451.
Cook for 12 - 14 minutes per pound un-stuffed
If you have a huge turkey, use two bags sliding end of the turkey into one bag and the other end of the turkey into the second bag. The advantage of the brown paper bag over the Reynolds cooking bag is that the paper breathes so the turkey roasts. In the Reynolds bag, the turkey steams, giving it a different taste. Roasted turkey is better! Also, the brown paper bag retains the same advantage of the plastic cooking bag...no splatters all over the oven.
Be sure to lower the rack so that it doesn't touch the heating elements if you have an electric stove.
Preheat over to 325.

The Extravagant

Roast Turkey With Apples And Champagne

1 (12 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 apples, cored and halved
1 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 (750 milliliter) bottle champagne

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Rinse turkey, and pat dry. Gently loosen turkey breast skin, and insert pieces of butter between the skin and breast. Place apples inside the turkey's cavity. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place turkey in a roasting bag, and pour champagne over the inside and outside of the bird. Close bag, and place turkey in a roasting pan.
Bake turkey 3 to 3 1/2 hours in the preheated oven, or until the internal temperature is 180 degrees F (85 degrees C) when measured in the meatiest part of the thigh. Remove turkey from bag, and let stand for at least 20 minutes before carving.

The Complicated

For the gravy:

1/4 lb. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter
2/3 cup flour, sifted
3 cups apple cider
1 cup dry white wine
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
2 shallots, chopped (about 4 Tbs.)
1-1/2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock; more as needed
2 tsp. salt1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme

For the turkey:
Oil for spraying brown grocery bag
12- to 14-lb. fresh turkey (preferably organic), with neck
Reserved herb butter from Buttercup Squash Soup
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 recipe Wild Rice Stuffing
Kitchen twine for trussing
5 Tbs. butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. fresh thyme
3 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock
Fresh herbs for garnish

How to make
Up to one week ahead:
In a medium heavy sauté pan over low heat, melt the butter; add the flour, whisking until smooth. Cook over very low heat for 20 min., stirring frequently. The roux should be a pale straw brown; if it begins to darken, remove it from the heat. Refrigerate the roux in a wide-mouthed jar or other covered container.
On the day of serving:
Bring the roux to room temperature. Heat the oven to 325°F and adjust the racks to accommodate the roasting pan and an extra pan of stuffing. Cut away one of the wider sides of a brown grocery bag and coat the underside of the remainder with oil, using a spray bottle or pastry brush. Rinse the bird with cold water inside and out. Save the neck and discard the other innards.
Cut off the pope's nose (the tail) from the turkey and tuck the wing tips under the back of the bird. With a rubber spatula or your hands, separate the skin from the breast and spread the herb butter and garlic slices under the skin. Loosely fill the front and back cavities of the bird with stuffing. Insert a long metal fork in the middle of the stuffing in the back cavity (leaving the tip exposed); this will help the stuffing cook faster by drawing the heat to the interior of the stuffing. Cut a slit in the flaps on either side of the cavity. Tie a 16-inch piece of twine around one leg, feed the twine through both slits in the flaps, and pull the twine taut. Wrap the twine around the other leg once, and tie the legs together securely.
Put the extra stuffing in a buttered baking dish, about 9x7 inches -- Dot with the 10 dabs of butter and cover with foil. Poke 8 holes in the foil for steam and set aside in the refrigerator.
Coat the bottom of a large roasting pan with 1/4 cup olive oil -- Set the bird in the pan and rub it with the other 1/4 cup oil; sprinkle with 2 tsp. salt and 1 Tbs. thyme. Put the neck in the pan. Cover the bird loosely with the brown bag and put the pan in the oven.
After 1 hour of roasting -- Remove the neck from the oven; set aside. Begin making a stock reduction for the gravy: In a 2-qt. pot, combine 3 cups cider, the wine, apple, shallots, 1-1/2 cups stock, and turkey neck. Boil over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half (about 2-1/2 cups), about 30 min. Discard the turkey neck. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Remove the pan of stuffing from the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature for 30 min.
After 2-1/2 hours of roasting -- Put the pan of stuffing in the oven. At the same time, baste the turkey with any juices (there may not be a lot from an organic turkey) and add the 3 cups chicken stock to the pan. Continue roasting for another hour.
After 3-1/2 hours of roasting -- Remove the paper bag from the turkey. Take the turkey from the oven, set it on a hot pad on the counter, and tilt the pan to pour or ladle off all the juices into a heatproof container (when you tilt the pan, use a towel to hold a leg of the turkey to keep it from sliding). Check the turkey's temperature (the thickest part of the thigh should be 165°F when done, and the center of the stuffing should be above 160°F.) Return the turkey to the oven to finish roasting if needed. Remove the foil cover from the pan of stuffing. Let the pan juices sit for at least 10 min. to allow the fat to rise.
Finish the gravy -- Skim the fat off the reserved pan juices and add the juices to the reduced cider stock. Bring the liquid to a simmer (skimming off any more fat if necessary) and slowly whisk in about one-third of the roux until it's absorbed and the gravy thickens. Add more roux if you like a thicker gravy or more stock or apple cider if you want it thinner. Strain the gravy (the apple will have disintegrated), and season with 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper or to taste. Add the thyme and keep the gravy warm (put the pot, loosely covered with foil, on a hot plate if you have one).
After 4 hours of roasting -- Check the turkey temperature again. Remove the pan of stuffing (it should feel firm). If the turkey isn't done yet, check in another 30 min. When the turkey reaches temperature, remove it from oven and cover loosely with a tent of foil. Let rest at least 20 min. so the juices settle back into the flesh, which will keep it tender. Or leave the turkey in the oven, turn off the heat, and leave the oven door cracked. You can hold the turkey this way for an hour.
Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and slice -- I like to remove the legs and the breast and slice the breast meat on a bias and the thigh meat into slices. Arrange on a platter and garnish with fresh herbs.

And finally, what I think is probably the best for two reasons.
Many, many sites are now saying that brined is the way to go.
And, of course, this one is by Emeril Lagasse.

The Brined

Brined and Roasted Turkey
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse

1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey
Brine, recipe follows
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large yellow onion, cut into 8ths
1 large orange, cut into 8ths
1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting

Turkey Broth:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Reserved turkey neck and giblets
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 large celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 small bay leaf
3 cups turkey stock, chicken stock, or canned low-salt chicken broth
3 cups water

4 cups turkey broth
1 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey and reserve for the gravy. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.
Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Place breast side down in a large, heavy roasting pan, and rub on all sides with the butter. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the turkey with the onion, orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and thyme. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.

For the turkey broth: Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Add the turkey neck, heart, and gizzard to the pan and saute until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add the chopped vegetables and bay leaf to the pan and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Pour the stock and 3 cups of water into the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the stock is reduced to 4 cups, about 1 hour, adding the chopped liver to the pan during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Strain the stock into a clean pot or large measuring cup. Pull the meat off the neck, chop the neck meat and giblets, and set aside.

Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.

Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

For the pan gravy: Pour the reserved turkey pan juices into a glass-measuring cup and skim off the fat. Place the roasting pan on 2 stovetop burners over medium heat add the pan juice and 1 cup turkey broth and the white wine to the pan, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 3 cup of broth and bring to a simmer, then transfer to a measuring cup.
In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Add the hot stock, whisking constantly, then simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved neck meat and giblets to the pan and adjust seasoning, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary

To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a non-reactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, plastic garbage bag.) Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary.
Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.


Blogger Carrie said...

I have done the brine in the past- really good flavor....this year I am cooking 2 turkeys, and keeping it simple- toss in the stuffing, throw the birdsin the roasters, and start the wine drinking! Which way are YOU preparing the bird this year?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 5:52:00 AM  
Blogger Tramp said...

I'm preparing the bird the best way possible.

I’m letting my wife and her sister do it!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 10:20:00 AM  

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