TURKEY

THERE'S A REASON I ONLY MAKE TURKEY ONCE A YEAR:  IT DOESN'T TASTE AS GOOD AS CHICKEN, DUCK, SQUAB, PARTRIDGE, OR QUAIL.  I COOK IT DEFENSIVELY, SEARCHING FOR RECIPES WHERE BOTH THE WHITE AND DARK MEAT ARE EQUALLY JUICY, WHERE THE SKIN IS CRISP BUT NOT CHARRED.  I'VE MADE IT A PRACTICE TO TRY A DIFFERENT RECIPE EACH THANKSGIVING.  SINCE TURKEY HAS LESS FLAVOR THAN THE AFOREMENTIONED FOWL, HOW BEST TO COMPENSATE FOR THAT IN IT'S PREPARATION?  WET-BRINING YIELDS A MOISTER BIRD, BUT DRY-BRINING (SALT, PEPPER, HERBS, GARLIC, ONIONS, CITRUS) FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS GIVES YOU A SIMILAR RESULT.   THEN THERE'S THE SLOW VS FAST COOKING CONTROVERSY.  BELIEVE ME, FAST IS BEST; IN OTHER WORDS, HIGH HEAT.  NEITHER OF THESE METHODS, HOWEVER, SOLVES THE WHITE-MEAT-DARK-MEAT DILEMMA.  WHITE MEAT COOKS FASTER.  BUT UNLESS YOU LIKE UNDERCOOKED DARK MEAT, YOU HAVE TO OVERCOOK THE BREAST.   IT'S NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO ROAST A TURKEY WITHOUT DOING ONE OR THE OTHER.  SADLY, WE'VE NEVER SHAKEN OUR DEVOTION TO NORMAN ROCKWELL'S "FREEDOM FROM WANT", THE SATURDAY EVENING POST COVER FROM 1943.   BUT I WONDER HOW JOLLY THIS FAMILY LOOKED AFTER THEIR FIRST BITE OF WHITE MEAT?   MY FIRST PRIORITY IS TASTE, SO A FEW YEARS AGO, I TRIED MELISSA CLARK'S DRY-BRINED TURKEY, WHERE YOU CUT THROUGH THE SKIN WHICH CONNECTS THE BREAST TO THE THIGH WHICH ALLOWS THE LEGS TO BE SPLAYED OUT AND FLATTENED SO THEY'RE IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE ROASTING PAN TO GIVE THEM A LEG UP, SO TO SPEAK, ON THE BREAST.  MELISSA ROASTS THE BIRD AT 450º ON THE BOTTOM OF THE OVEN FOR TWO AND A HALF HOURS FOR A 12-POUND TURKEY.  LAST THANKSGIVING, I PREPARED SAMRIN NOSRAT'S BUTTERMILK-BRINED TURKEY RECIPE (ANOTHER ITERATION OF HER FLAWLESS BUTTERMILK-BRINED CHICKEN) AND SPATCHCOCKED MY BIG BIRD, COOKING IT FOR TWO HOURS AT 400º.  BOTH RECIPES REWARDED MY GUESTS WITH THE JUICIEST TURKEYS THEY'D EVER EATEN, ALTHOUGH THANKS TO THE BUTTERMILK BRINING, THE NOSRAT TURKEY WAS A BIT MORE TENDER.  THIS THANKSGIVING I INTEND TO COMBINE BOTH RECIPES.  I'LL BUTTERMILK BRINE THE TURKEY ADDING SOME SEASONINGS TO THE BRINE, BUT INSTEAD OF SPATCHCOCKING, I'LL SEPARATE THE LEG AND BREAST AND ROAST IT ON THE BOTTOM OF THE OVEN À LA MELISSA.   INCORPORATING BOTH METHODS IN ONE RECIPE, HOW CAN ANYTHING POSSIBLY GO WRONG, GO WRONG, GO WRONG...https://johnpleshettemealoftheweek.com/recipes/turkey/https://johnpleshettemealoftheweek.com/recipes/turkey/

 12 lbs TURKEY
 7 tbsp FINE SEA SALT
 3 qts BUTTERMILK
 10 GARLIC CLOVES
 WHITE WINES
 1 LARGE RED ONION
 BUNCHES OF FRESH THYME, ROSEMARY AND SAGE
1

TWO DAYS BEFORE THANKSGIVING BRINE THE TURKEY.

SLICE THROUGH THE SKIN WHICH SEPARATES THE BREAST FROM THE THIGHS. PRESS DOWN ON THE THIGHS TILL THEY POP OUT OF THE JOINT.

DISSOLVE 7 TO 10 TBSPS OF FINE SEA SALT (DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF YOUR TURKEY) IN 3 QUARTS OF BUTTERMILK.

LIGHTLY CRUSH BUT DON'T BOTHER PEELING GARLIC CLOVES. PEEL AND CUT LENGTHWISE ONION INTO EIGHTHS.

PUT ALL THE INGREDIENTS, INCLUDING THE TURKEY IN TWO 13-GALLON GARBAGE BAGS. SET IN A LARGE BOWL. FORCE OUT AS MUCH AIR AS AS POSSIBLE AND TIGHTLY SEAL THE BAG.

REFRIGERATE FOR TWO DAYS TURNING THE BIRD OVER EVERY 12 HOURS OR SO.

REMOVE THE RACKS FROM YOUR OVEN SO THE TURKEY CAN SIT ON THE BOTTOM.

PUT THE BAG IN THE SINK. RELEASE THE TURKEY FROM THE BAG AND WIPE OFF AS MUCH OF THE BRINE AS POSSIBLE. ALLOW IT TO WARM TO ROOM TEMPERATURE.

PRE-HEAT OVEN TO 450º.

HEAT A LARGE, HEAVY-DUTY ROASTING PAN OVER TWO BURNERS ON TOP OF THE STOVE. ADD SPLASH OF PEANUT OIL.

DRY THE SKIN SIDE OF THE SPLAYED TURKEY WITH PAPER TOWELS. LAY THE TURKEY IN THE ROASTING PAN SIDEWAYS SKIN SIDE DOWN, SO THE THIGHS MAKE CONTACT WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN. BROWN OVER MEDIUM HEAT FOR A FEW MINUTES, PRESSING DOWN ON THE THIGHS A FEW TIMES SO THEY MAKE CONTACT WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN.

MEANWHILE, PEEL A LARGE ONION, SLICE LENGTHWISE IN HALF, THEN IN 3/4-INCH HALF MOONS.

REMOVE THE TURKEY FROM THE STOVE. TUCK THE ONIONS AROUND THE BIRD. POUR IN ABOUT A 1/2-INCH OF WHITE WINE.

ROAST FOR 45 MINUTES AT 450º, THEN REMOVE FROM THE OVEN.

INSERT A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN. REDUCE THE HEAT TO 375º

GRASPING THE TURKEY BY THE LEGS, GENTLY TURN IT OVER SO THE SKIN SIDE FACES UP AND PLACE IN THE OVEN.

ROAST ANOTHER HOUR OR SO, UNTIL THE THIGH MEAT REGISTERS 165º ON AN INSTANT THERMOMETER. IF THE SKIN TURNS TOO DARK, TENT WITH FOIL UNTIL IT'S DONE.

REMOVE FROM THE OVEN AND SET ON A WARM SERVING PLATTER. TENT WITH FOIL AND ALLOW TO REST FOR 30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.

SERVES 8-12 DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE TURKEY.

 12 lbs TURKEY
 7 tbsp FINE SEA SALT
 3 qts BUTTERMILK
 10 GARLIC CLOVES
 WHITE WINES
 1 LARGE RED ONION
 BUNCHES OF FRESH THYME, ROSEMARY AND SAGE
1

TWO DAYS BEFORE THANKSGIVING BRINE THE TURKEY.

SLICE THROUGH THE SKIN WHICH SEPARATES THE BREAST FROM THE THIGHS. PRESS DOWN ON THE THIGHS TILL THEY POP OUT OF THE JOINT.

DISSOLVE 7 TO 10 TBSPS OF FINE SEA SALT (DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF YOUR TURKEY) IN 3 QUARTS OF BUTTERMILK.

LIGHTLY CRUSH BUT DON'T BOTHER PEELING GARLIC CLOVES. PEEL AND CUT LENGTHWISE ONION INTO EIGHTHS.

PUT ALL THE INGREDIENTS, INCLUDING THE TURKEY IN TWO 13-GALLON GARBAGE BAGS. SET IN A LARGE BOWL. FORCE OUT AS MUCH AIR AS AS POSSIBLE AND TIGHTLY SEAL THE BAG.

REFRIGERATE FOR TWO DAYS TURNING THE BIRD OVER EVERY 12 HOURS OR SO.

REMOVE THE RACKS FROM YOUR OVEN SO THE TURKEY CAN SIT ON THE BOTTOM.

PUT THE BAG IN THE SINK. RELEASE THE TURKEY FROM THE BAG AND WIPE OFF AS MUCH OF THE BRINE AS POSSIBLE. ALLOW IT TO WARM TO ROOM TEMPERATURE.

PRE-HEAT OVEN TO 450º.

HEAT A LARGE, HEAVY-DUTY ROASTING PAN OVER TWO BURNERS ON TOP OF THE STOVE. ADD SPLASH OF PEANUT OIL.

DRY THE SKIN SIDE OF THE SPLAYED TURKEY WITH PAPER TOWELS. LAY THE TURKEY IN THE ROASTING PAN SIDEWAYS SKIN SIDE DOWN, SO THE THIGHS MAKE CONTACT WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN. BROWN OVER MEDIUM HEAT FOR A FEW MINUTES, PRESSING DOWN ON THE THIGHS A FEW TIMES SO THEY MAKE CONTACT WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN.

MEANWHILE, PEEL A LARGE ONION, SLICE LENGTHWISE IN HALF, THEN IN 3/4-INCH HALF MOONS.

REMOVE THE TURKEY FROM THE STOVE. TUCK THE ONIONS AROUND THE BIRD. POUR IN ABOUT A 1/2-INCH OF WHITE WINE.

ROAST FOR 45 MINUTES AT 450º, THEN REMOVE FROM THE OVEN.

INSERT A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN. REDUCE THE HEAT TO 375º

GRASPING THE TURKEY BY THE LEGS, GENTLY TURN IT OVER SO THE SKIN SIDE FACES UP AND PLACE IN THE OVEN.

ROAST ANOTHER HOUR OR SO, UNTIL THE THIGH MEAT REGISTERS 165º ON AN INSTANT THERMOMETER. IF THE SKIN TURNS TOO DARK, TENT WITH FOIL UNTIL IT'S DONE.

REMOVE FROM THE OVEN AND SET ON A WARM SERVING PLATTER. TENT WITH FOIL AND ALLOW TO REST FOR 30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.

SERVES 8-12 DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE TURKEY.

Ingredients

 12 lbs TURKEY
 7 tbsp FINE SEA SALT
 3 qts BUTTERMILK
 10 GARLIC CLOVES
 WHITE WINES
 1 LARGE RED ONION
 BUNCHES OF FRESH THYME, ROSEMARY AND SAGE

Directions

1

TWO DAYS BEFORE THANKSGIVING BRINE THE TURKEY.

SLICE THROUGH THE SKIN WHICH SEPARATES THE BREAST FROM THE THIGHS. PRESS DOWN ON THE THIGHS TILL THEY POP OUT OF THE JOINT.

DISSOLVE 7 TO 10 TBSPS OF FINE SEA SALT (DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF YOUR TURKEY) IN 3 QUARTS OF BUTTERMILK.

LIGHTLY CRUSH BUT DON'T BOTHER PEELING GARLIC CLOVES. PEEL AND CUT LENGTHWISE ONION INTO EIGHTHS.

PUT ALL THE INGREDIENTS, INCLUDING THE TURKEY IN TWO 13-GALLON GARBAGE BAGS. SET IN A LARGE BOWL. FORCE OUT AS MUCH AIR AS AS POSSIBLE AND TIGHTLY SEAL THE BAG.

REFRIGERATE FOR TWO DAYS TURNING THE BIRD OVER EVERY 12 HOURS OR SO.

REMOVE THE RACKS FROM YOUR OVEN SO THE TURKEY CAN SIT ON THE BOTTOM.

PUT THE BAG IN THE SINK. RELEASE THE TURKEY FROM THE BAG AND WIPE OFF AS MUCH OF THE BRINE AS POSSIBLE. ALLOW IT TO WARM TO ROOM TEMPERATURE.

PRE-HEAT OVEN TO 450º.

HEAT A LARGE, HEAVY-DUTY ROASTING PAN OVER TWO BURNERS ON TOP OF THE STOVE. ADD SPLASH OF PEANUT OIL.

DRY THE SKIN SIDE OF THE SPLAYED TURKEY WITH PAPER TOWELS. LAY THE TURKEY IN THE ROASTING PAN SIDEWAYS SKIN SIDE DOWN, SO THE THIGHS MAKE CONTACT WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN. BROWN OVER MEDIUM HEAT FOR A FEW MINUTES, PRESSING DOWN ON THE THIGHS A FEW TIMES SO THEY MAKE CONTACT WITH THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN.

MEANWHILE, PEEL A LARGE ONION, SLICE LENGTHWISE IN HALF, THEN IN 3/4-INCH HALF MOONS.

REMOVE THE TURKEY FROM THE STOVE. TUCK THE ONIONS AROUND THE BIRD. POUR IN ABOUT A 1/2-INCH OF WHITE WINE.

ROAST FOR 45 MINUTES AT 450º, THEN REMOVE FROM THE OVEN.

INSERT A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN. REDUCE THE HEAT TO 375º

GRASPING THE TURKEY BY THE LEGS, GENTLY TURN IT OVER SO THE SKIN SIDE FACES UP AND PLACE IN THE OVEN.

ROAST ANOTHER HOUR OR SO, UNTIL THE THIGH MEAT REGISTERS 165º ON AN INSTANT THERMOMETER. IF THE SKIN TURNS TOO DARK, TENT WITH FOIL UNTIL IT'S DONE.

REMOVE FROM THE OVEN AND SET ON A WARM SERVING PLATTER. TENT WITH FOIL AND ALLOW TO REST FOR 30 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.

SERVES 8-12 DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE TURKEY.

TURKEY
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