The slaving. The spread. The whirlwind. THE TURKEY. The food. The company. The pie. The piled plate. The tryptophan. The fire. The passing out. Ahh, tis the holiday.
I am thankful for good food, a kitchen to cook it in, people I love to celebrate it with, and the accompaniment of good conversation. Now that we’ve eaten our turkey, I will be thankful if I do not hear a Christmas carol or see a decoration without the assistance of a good glass of Bourbon in the next 3 weeks. Night night.
Matt and I cooked for our first Thanksgiving during my first holiday away from home including slaving over our first turkey. We had mama Pelletier, a seasoned cook and turkey expert, to guide our process along, but it was still as overwhelming, bewildering, and eventful as I expected it to be. And IT WAS EDIBLE. Turkey for the win.
We cooked most of the day. The turkey troubles included getting up too late, attempting to rub a damp turkey with butter rub, rubbing the turkey before breaking its wings and placing it on the racks, wondering HOW LONG? it would take in the oven, and wrestling with two birds and two inexperienced turkey cooks.
Well I can say having two birds did give for an excellent experiment in two different approaches. One we bagged and the other we broke its wings and left it uncovered. The former was a moist meat, the latter a little dry but more tender and with crispier skin. As for taste they both were evenly flavored.
In addition to the bird we also accomplished these lovelies. Click for the recipes.
Herb and butter rubbed turkey w/ dressings two ways
Recipes for 15 pound bird
This is how my mom does turkey. She always rubs, never bastes. It’s super moist, flavorful, and easy peasy. We much prefer the stuffing in a casserole dish, not from the turkey. I give you two options below, one dressed with herbs, one with stuffing.
Make sure the rack is in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325.
Unwrap the bird and remove the giblets from the neck cavity. Wash the outside with running water. Run the water through both cavities of the bird. Dry off completely. Salt and pepper both cavities. Place on your metal rack in the roasting pan. Break the wing tips by bending them backwards and prop the turkey atop them. Stuff the turkey, rub it. Bend the bone ends of drumsticks over the cavity and secure them with twine (figure 8 and tie a knot). Fold over the neck.
Cook in the oven for about 4 hours (add 20-30 minutes if dressed with stuffing). Don’t baste. Look for browning juices in the bottom of the pan. Insert the meat thermometer into the fleshiest part of the breast. The bird should be 165 degrees. If it’s done, take it out. Other signs of it being done are the drumsticks being able to move in their sockets. Leave to rest for at least a half hour after removing from the oven.
Dressing w/ herbs
1 onion, quartered
1 shallot, quartered
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
4 sprigs rosemary
A few whole sage leaves
Place 1 quarter onion, shallot, 1 garlic clove, 1 sprig rosemary, and 1 sage leave in the neck of the turkey. Put the rest in the body. This is not a seance. No need for neat arrangements or ceremony. If you decide to vary the ingredients, go ahead. Just use the general 1/3 ratio used above.
Dressing w/ stuffing
If you’re dressing, just remember not to stuff the bird full. You want some breathing room. Also remember this increases the cooking time by 5 minutes per pound.
3 tablespoons ghee (or unsalted butter)
3/4 teaspoon salt
20 grinds of pepper
2 cloves garlic, pressed through press
2 sprigs of rosemary (4”), stripped and coarsely chopped
Mix together and smear over the bird with your hands trying to coat the entire surface evenly.
2 sticks celery, cut in half
2 medium carrot cut in half lengthwise
1 onion, quartered
3 clove garlic peeled and bruised
All giblets including neck
Enough water to cover it
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 sprigs thyme
3 sage leaves
2 rosemary branch
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours with the lid cocked.
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
A few sprigs rosemary, minced
A few sprigs thyme, minced
Prior to making the gravy, cook the giblets. Strain off all the liquid and reserve. Remove the giblets, mince the heart and the liver, and set them aside.
Remove the turkey from the oven and place on a preheated platter to rest. Pour off all the drippings in a bowl. Skim off and reserve all the fat from the drippings. Turn two burners on low and place the roasting pan over the stove. Once hot, add 1/2 cup of fat back into the pan. If you don’t have enough, add in some olive oil. Whisk in the flour. Begin to add in the giblet broth and turkey drippings, up to 8 cups. Turn up to medium-low and let it come to a boil. Turn down to simmer for 15 minutes. Once it starts to thicken, you can add the giblets back in. Taste. Adjust salt. Add in fresh herb if you need it. Continue to cook until you have the right consistency.