Turkey Time!

November 19, 2006 on 12:35 pm | By | In Food Musings, Recipes | 2 Comments

The calendar may say Thanksgiving isn’t for another 4 days, but in our household today is turkey day. Because my post-Thanksgiving party was canceled, I decided to join my darling at Whistler under one condition: I get to prepare the Thanksgiving feast. Despite being a chef, I rarely get to prepare the holiday turkey (other than prepping them for clients). We typically spend Thanksgiving at my darling’s cousin’s house, and she handles all the preparation; I normally just bring a pie and a side dish. The last time I actually prepared Thanksgiving dinner was 9 years ago when we celebrated our first Thanksgiving in our new home with my parents. I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoys spending an entire day in the kitchen, and now I have my chance.

One wrinkle: I’ll be in an unfamiliar kitchen at a condo in Whistler. Preparing the side dishes won’t be an issue, but the thought of cooking the turkey there seemed a bit daunting (not that I wouldn’t be up to the challenge). There’ll be about 10 adults and 3-4 young children milling about, and since it’s not our condo (we’ll be staying at a hotel nearby), I thought it would be rude to banish everyone from the kitchen. So I’ve decided to experiment: I’m cooking two 14-pound turkeys today, which I will cut up into large chunks and freeze. I’ll then gently reheat the turkey at Whistler, basting with some homemade turkey stock. Hopefully the stock will keep the turkey moist, but just in case I’m also preparing a ton of gravy. (I’ll also make sure everyone — except the children — drink copious amounts of wine so they won’t notice if the turkey is dry).

Because I so rarely cook turkey, I don’t have a tried & true method. Perusing all the magazines and blogs is overwhelming, but I’ve decided to follow one source that always comes through: Cook’s Illustrated. Mind you, they also have a variety of methods, but the one I’m following comes from their November/December 2004 issue: Roasted Brined Turkey. I deviated from the recipe a bit as I went with a fancier brine. The Gilded Fork features a Fruit & Spice Brine, and I just so happened to have all the ingredients in my panty (LOVE IT when that happens!).

After an overnight brine I rinsed the turkeys and patted them dry; they’re now air-drying in my fridge. (Air-drying produces an especially crisp skin; however, I won’t have time to air-dry for the 8-24 hours that Cook’s recommends. It’ll be more like 2-3 hours). For the turkey stock, I’m following Cook’s chicken stock recipe for the pressure cooker, substituting fresh sage for the thyme. I’ll use some of the stock for the gravy, the rest for the stuffing (I prefer to cook the stuffing separate, which I’ll be doing at Whistler). I will be stuffing the cavity of each turkey with orange and lemon wedges and fresh sage. I’ll also sprinkle onions, carrots & celery on the bottom of the roasting pan for more flavorful pan drippings.

I decided to cook two smaller turkeys since I’ve heard too many horror stories of dry breast meat when cooking the larger birds. This does, however, pose another problem: I only have one roasting pan. So my other experiment is to cook one in my conventional oven and the other in my Aroma roaster oven. In both cases, I’ll start the turkeys breast-side down (at 400 degrees), then will flip them over after 45 minutes to finish the roasting. I had considered basting, but decided to forego this step (the turkeys will be brushed with melted butter at the outset, however).

Stay tuned for the results!

2 Comments

  1. I am one of the 10 adults who enjoyed the beautiful weather at Whistler and got to savor the delicious food. Ordinarily I am not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner fan. I generally do not like turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries (the list goes one).

    This was the first Thanksgiving I enjoyed seconds on everything. Usually that is reserved only for mashed potatoes! The turkey was moist and very tasty. The stuffing was amazing. I’m not a big on “soggy breadcrumbs” but this was different. The stuffing wasn’t soggy and had great flavoring! Simply wonderful!!

    Thanks Betsy for the delicious dinner. It is good to know I actually do enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner!!

    Comment by Crystal Jilbert — November 28, 2006 #

  2. Cassidy says he misses my stuffing, I’ve succeeded as a mother!

    Love,Kim

    Comment by Kim Rogers — December 7, 2006 #

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