Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Braised and Roasted Turkey -- Making cooking a turkey manageable

Let's face it, nothing sucks more than getting up at 5 a.m. to get the turkey in the oven, just to find hours later that the white meat has dried out while waiting for the dark meat to get done. We've done the butterflied turkey, but same results. This ingenious recipe doesn't give you a "presentation bird" (more on that in a second) but it gives you fabulous dark meat, easy gravy and moist white meat. Hats off to Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot Grill here in Scottsdale, Arizona for the technique and recipe, which she adapted from David Tanis.

First, you may read -- "What? You want me to debone a turkey?" and the answer is yes, we do. It's no different than cutting up a chicken (just bigger) and once you learn how you'll be so thrilled with having the skill. Here's a great link to Julia Child and Jimmy Sneed showing how it's done.

BUT....if you just feel you cannot do this, go buy parts -- two turkey breast lobes (you could buy just a turkey breast and have the butcher debone, or some places sell them deboned), two thighs, and two drumsticks.  If you can get two wings, that's great too!

And, for that presentation bird, have a family member roast one, tent it with foil and bring it over. It can be presented, and then taken back to the kitchen and carved after dinner for folks to take home leftovers.

So, once you have the parts, just follow this recipe. You can start up to three days before you're serving:

provided by Chrysa Robertson of Rancho Pinot Grill, Scottsdale, AZ
based on a recipe by David Tanis

(this recipe is for a 12-14 lb turkey, but you can adjust up or down)

a 12-14 lb. turkey
- cut off the thighs with legs attached.  cut leg off of thigh.  carefully cut the breast
  from carcass in two lobes. cut off the wings, removing the tips for stock.  chop the
  carcass into 2 or 3 pieces (for stock).  reserve neck for stock and giblets for gravy. (there are all sorts of online sources to see this…and really, it will take you less than 20 minutes and is much less daunting than you think)

2-3 T. unsalted butter, softened
fresh thyme
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

*season the turkey the day before cooking for best results*
- place all turkey pieces on cutting board and season well on all sides with sea salt &
  freshly ground pepper.  
- mix the softened butter with a bit of chopped fresh thyme leaves.  carefully lift the skin
  from the breast lobes on one side.  using you fingers, smear the butter under the skin in
  an even layer. wrap the breast lobes together in plastic.  place all the remaining pieces in
  a covered container.  refrigerate, overnight is best.

STOCK   *may be made 1-3 days ahead of time*

turkey carcass, including neck, chopped in pieces if desired
1 large yellow onion, quartered
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large rib celery, chopped
2 whole cloves
1 large clove garlic, smashed
a few teaspoons of oil
a few parsley sprigs
a few thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
about 1 gal water

- place the bones and vegetables on tray or roasting pan, toss with oil, and roast at 400
  degrees until nicely browned, about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
- scrape the bones and veg into a stock pot.  pour a little water into the pan and scrape up
  the browned bits, add to pot.  add the neck, herbs & water.  bring to a boil, skim, turn down to
  a low simmer, and cook for about 2 hours.
- strain stock.  cool at room temp for about an hour, then refrigerate.  skim fat when cold.

BRAISED PARTS       preheat oven to 400 degrees

- place thighs, legs and wings in roasting pan (do not crowd).  place in oven and roast while
  you prepare the braising liquid.  check occasionally to be sure they aren't browning too


2 large yellow onions, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, sliced (omit or increase/decrease to your taste)
1 cup dry white wine
thyme sprigs
parsley sprigs
sage sprigs
small pinch of fennel seeds
4-6 cups turkey broth
olive oil & butter for browning
(optional: 2 slices bacon or pancetta, cut into small pieces)

- in a large skillet over medium high heat, warm a few tablespoons of olive oil & butter.  add  
  onions, season with salt a& pepper.  cook & stir until softened and browned. add garlic (if
  using) and cook til softened.
(*optional:  first render the bacon or pancetta in skillet til starting to brown, remove with
  slotted spoon and enjoy this snack as your reward!  add a bit more oil to pan, and proceed  
  with cooking onions)
- pour in wine, scrape up all the browned bits.  add stock, herb sprigs & fennel seed, stir
  and cook til simmering.

- remove turkey parts from oven. they should be light golden brown.  drain off fat into a bowl for the gravy.  deglaze pan with some water or stock, pour braising liquid over parts and cover tightly with foil or lid.  reduce oven to 350.  return  pan to oven and cook for about 1 1/2 hrs, or until legs are tender when tested with a fork.  remove from oven and let cool about an hour.  remove parts from liquid.  strain the braising liquid and
  set aside.  skim fat as it cools.

*if not proceeding directly to dinner, cover and refrigerate the turkey parts.  cover and
  refrigerate the braising liquid.  bring turkey to room temp before re-heating.

3-4 T. butter or bacon/pancetta fat (or the turkey fat from roasting the parts)
3-4 T. flour
braising liquid
chopped thyme, parsley, sage, etc.
(optional:  finely minced cooked giblets)

- in a sauce pan over med heat, melt the butter/fat.  gradually whisk in the flour til a
  smooth paste forms.  cook and whisk for about 3 minutes til golden and fragrant. 
- slowly whisk in braising liquid.  continue to whisk and cook til thickened.  add chopped
  herbs and giblets if using.  taste for seasoning, adjust.

* if gravy is too thick, add more turkey or chicken stock.  if it seems too thin, shake
  a couple tablespoons of flour with water, and whisk this slurry into gravy.  continue to
  cook for several minutes to eliminate any raw flour taste.
* to cook giblets:  place gizzard & heart in small pot, cover with water or stock and simmer
  until very tender.  let cool, trim off any membranes, and mince. (I don't use the liver in
  the gravy, but my cats love them! dogs, too!)

ROASTING THE BREASTS   preheat oven to 375-400 degrees

* roast the breasts as you reheat other dishes just before dinner, up to an hour before*

- bring breasts to room temperature.  place them in a shallow roasting pan, skin side up,
  and roast for about a half hour, until the temp is 140 (the temp will continue to rise as
  they rest).  remove from oven and cover loosely, let rest for 15-30 minutes.


- tear or cut into pieces the meat from the legs, thighs & wings, heat in the oven til heated 
  through, 15-20 minutes. 
- reheat the gravy
- slice the breasts crosswise

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