Thursday, October 29, 2015

Turkey Takes Off

As Thanksgiving draws near, the local farmers are harvesting the first of the free range turkeys.  I've reserved one for Thanksgiving and today I picked up a "half" turkey from this week's slaughter.  When I saw the large size of the whole turkey, the owners offered to cut the bird in half and I welcomed the suggestion.  Here are other techniques for preparing the perfect turkey:

Spatchcock the turkey.
Removing the backbone saves cooking time. We first tried this technique last Thanksgiving with our turkey:

  • Cut along each side of the backbone and remove.
  • Open the chicken or turkey like a book.
  • Flip over.
  • Press down to flatten.
  • Tuck wings under.
Make sure to have a baking pan large enough to accommodate the unfolded bird.   (Last year I had to improvise).

The turkey is so moist:

Make a turkey brine.
While making apple pie or sauce, place the cores and peels in a saucepan. 

Fill the pan with water, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 1-2 hours.  Strain and pour the apple "juice" over the bird.  

To the brine, I added juice and peel from one orange and 6 whole cloves.  I then basted the turkey with the brine throughout roasting.

Side dishes can also be made with the brine.  I cut up an assortment of fresh vegetables, colorful carrots from the winter farmers market, local potatoes, parsnip, onion, fennel, celery, pepper, zucchini and yellow squash. I poured half the marinade over the vegetables and roasted in the same oven as the turkey for 90 minutes.

Cover the turkey with a cheesecloth.
Soak the cheesecloth in the brine, then cover the turkey with the cloth.  

Talk to your farmer.
I've reserved 2 turkey tenderloins for the season.  They can remove the tenderloin prior to grinding the rest of the turkey.  I've been disappointed that the chain grocery stores no longer sell unseasoned turkey tenderloins, but rather various seasoned versions.  I want to add my own seasoning.

I was so happy they offered to sell me half the turkey.  The end product was juicy and delicious.  We ate our dinner for two, made two plates and delivered to Bob's co-workers, I placed leftovers for 4 in the refrigerator and froze roasted turkey for 8 to use later.  That's 16 servings from a 12 pound (half) bird.  

The Hardesty family, owners and operators of Working H Farms, have become my friends.  I enjoy stopping at their farm store every week on my trip to and from my Mom's home in Maryland.  The two sons (the youngest is just 15) are experienced meat cutters.  Knowing the people behind the product makes a difference, and I know they appreciate me as a customer.



No comments:

Post a Comment