Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jen's Turkey Recipe

Once you get your turkey, remove and reserve the giblets for gravy (the liver is too strongly flavored and should be reserved for anther use or discarded). Clip the first joint from each wing (much more useful in the stock for making gravy) and reserve with the giblets. Then rinse the bird (inside and out) under cool running water and pat dry with heavy gauge paper towels, being sure to get around the joints and in the cavity. Continue to dry out the bird by storing it (uncovered) over night in your refrigerator.

Prior to cooking: remove the bird from the refrigerator and place in a roasting pan. Give it an hour or so to lose the refrigerator chill. Rub the bird's skin with spice, such as dry oregano or any kind of chili powder, all according to your preference. Next, roll a lemon around on the counter (to distribute juices), cut in half and rub the entire bird with both halves of the lemon. Place the lemons in the cavity along with a peeled garlic clove (if you like garlic) and add several stalks of fresh herbs—rosemary is nice, also thyme, but whatever you like—leaving room for airflow. Next step, rub the entire bird with very good extra virgin olive oil—you can always add butter later.

Now it's time to season with salt and pepper. Keep in mind that turkey needs to be over seasoned because basting washes away some of the salt. Make sure that you season the inner cavity to the same extent as the outside.

I like to prop open the cavity with a wooden dowel or metal skewer to allow hot air flow inside. This will reduce cooking time and make for more even cooking. I also drive a metal skewer into the wide section of the thigh to conduct heat directly into the thickest part (which takes the longest time to cook). This will assure the breast meat is not over-cooked.

Always roast on a well-oiled rack, allowing airflow underneath the bird. Place bird in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 350 to finish. My rule of thumb with turkey is 12-13 minutes per pound. An instant read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg (away from the bone) as well as the thickest part of the breast should read at least 165F.
Transfer to a cutting board and don't carve until ready to serve.

Basting: With all the gadgets out there for basting birds, the best is still a stick of sweet butter: wrapper peeled down from one end to keep your fingers from getting sticky, especially when you are trying to flip back and forth between multiple football games on your direct TV remote. The other tool is a large serving spoon so when you tilt the pan, you can scoop up the pan drippings and drizzle them all over the bird. This will create "stains" on the otherwise perfectly golden brown skin, but from a taste standpoint you can't beat it.

At the beginning it tells you to rub it with the spice of your choice...I did mine with Garlic (fresh cloves) then threw the cloves in teh cavity. I did put fresh rosemary, thyme and taragon in the cavity along with the garlic and lemon.

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