Norman Rockwell forever ruined our turkey feast with the iconic image of a giant bird in "Freedom From Want." Not spectacular art in the first place, but in culinary terms the image produced some disastrous outcomes. And it’s not just the patristic ritual of turkey mutilation. Because really… who cuts turkey at the table? It is a greasy, messy, somewhat gory spectacle. And yet year after year people sit down to a turkey feast and the part they least enjoy is the turkey. A lot of the turkey ends in the trash; parts overdone and parts underdone both. Isn't it time that we tossed that whole Rockwell’s turkey and stopped lying to cooks that they managed to produce a succulent bird? Let’s face it, the turkey was mediocre at best, the white meat was on the dry side, the dark meat was tough, the bottom, a lot of the skin and connecting tissue was slimy and the thin foil wrapped wings were bone dry.
But try it once my way and you will never roast a Rockwell turkey again.You won’t have to stuff the bird at six in the morning either; the roasting time of cut up turkey is minimal. I had a ten pound turkey and if memory serves me well, it took only three hours at 375F to roast it to delicious perfection. Make the dressing a day ahead and bake it while the meat rests. It will be colourful and delicious and not at all like the soggy, brown stuff people scoop out of the turkey cavity. By the way, did you know that the stuffing is soggy brown from the blood? Now that I destroyed your cherished Rockwell image, let me show you how easy it is to roast a turkey. I had Ted Allen’s recipe on my blog for a long time and then last Christmas I finally roasted a turkey my way. Every bit of it was delicious and nothing went into the trash. How was YOUR turkey dinner?
salt to taste
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 onions, sliced
ground pepper to taste
fresh sage leaves
• I prefer a fresh bird, but if you trust a frozen brand, go ahead and defrost it slowly in the fridge. It could take several days depending on its size.
• Once defrosted, cut up the bird like you cut up a chicken. You will have two legs, two breast pieces and 2 wings.
• You will also have several backside pieces and a neck. Save these for soup and set aside the liver separately for another use.
• Place a clean kitchen towel over one of the breast pieces and hit it with a hammer to crush down the bone and to flatten down the meat. This is to make sure the thickness of the breast meat will be uniform.
• Repeat with the second breast piece. Put the kitchen towel in the laundry hamper.
• Now rinse the turkey parts and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel. Put the second kitchen towel into the laundry hamper as well.
• Place the turkey peaces in a large pan.
• Sprinkle with salt, turning the peaces over so they are well salted.
• Let the turkey pieces brine in the salt for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.
• Drizzle a large roasting pan with olive oil and spread the onion slices on top.
• Arrange the turkey on top of the onions.
• Sprinkle the meat with ground pepper and drizzle the top with olive oil.
• Place fresh sage leaves around the meat.
• Seal the pan with aluminum foil and place it in the oven.
• Roast the meat at 375F until tender.
• Take off the aluminum foil and set it aside for use later.
• Continue to roast the meat and start basting it at 15 minute intervals.
• When the skin is golden brown remove meat from the oven. No need to guess or sink a meat thermometer into the widest part. Once the meat is golden brown, it is ready.
• Using oven mitts carefully pour off the turkey juices into a pot for the gravy.
• Then tent the meat with the reserved aluminum foil.
• Now put the dressing in the oven.
• Make the gravy next. With a large serving spoon remove most of the fat from the turkey juices. Add all the reserved cooking liquids from the potatoes and the vegetables.
• I thicken my gravy with flour. I combine a couple of tablespoons of flour with COLD water. The mixture should not be lumpy or too thick. Then gradually stir it into the hot turkey juices. Slow simmer the gravy until the desired thickness is achieved. When the gravy is ready, pour it through a fine sieve before placing it into serving bowls or pitchers. The gravy boat barely holds enough gravy for a couple of servings. Sometimes I add sautéed mushroom slices to my turkey gravy.
ready to serve
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