Thursday, January 24, 2013


Attempt at a beauty shot. 
You cut da toikey???
I'm finding the most difficult part of my new endeavor to make all the recipes in Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking is not in the prep, or clean up, or the punctuation (tee hee) but in the getting my arse to the market for ingredients. I'm not a big planner, so I peruse my big, heavy book each day and see what grabs me. Then I have buy stuff. I also have to work, so finding the time and excitement to head to the store is tough.

In an effort to save some dough and avoid a grocery trip, I raided my freezer and pantry to find inspiration. My sweet Dad (my Mom is very sweet as well. Nailed it.) works at Trader Joe's and was given a Kosher turkey as a gift after the holiday rush. My parents didn't have freezer space so that bird has been glaring at me for a month or so. I decided to take it out and let it thaw on Tuesday night to enjoy on Wednesday evening. For me this was big planning! I left it in the fridge overnight and thawed the rest of the way in cool water in the sink. It was a 13 pounder, not too difficult to handle or defrost.

Buttered and seasoned
After thawing, this bird needed some lovin'. Kosher turkeys are really yummy but they always seem to have a LOT of stray feathers/quills to pluck. This is a grody task. I'm really not squeamish but there is something all too real about plucking feathers. I have a "tool kit" for this type of hiccup. Needle nosed pliers work really well for plucking feathers and deboning fish, so I have a pair for kitchen jobs only ("impeccable clean, I say!"). I've heard that you can torch off the remaining feathers and quills but I have not tried it. TJ's brand also removes the wing tips from bird. I was bummed, I love the look of the tips bent back under the bird and it keeps the turkey nice and level for carving. Hey, it was free. I can't complain (anymore). I decided to use some twine to secure the wings to the bird so it wouldn't be all splayed out once roasted.

In MTAOSC (pg. 374) there is roasted turkey recipe that has some interesting methods that make for a better bird. A nice high heat (450 degrees) and roasting breast down for the first hour aren't huge news, but I do think they made for a quick and savory turkey. Allowing the bird to chill in the fridge (uncovered) provided a nicely crisped skin. After stuffing the cavity with quartered onion, carrot and and some fresh rosemary and thyme (that had seem much better days), I trussed the legs together. The turkey is coated with a combination of melted butter and olive oil (cook's choice, I combined), going heavy on the breast area. The recipe didn't indicate seasoning the outside of the bird but I liberally salted & peppered.
Catch you on the flippity flip

I have a well-used and loved roasting pan that my husband and I received as a wedding gift over 16 years ago. It was a gift from our wonderful friends Carole & Jim. Every time I use that pan (and I do very often) I think of them. It makes me very happy. They are back in NY, probably freezing right now (ha!). It came with an excellent rack insert (teflon coated, no sticking bird and ripped skin!) that I love. I'm not a big nonstick fan but the rack is nifty.

The bottom of the pan also gets quartered onion and carrot and apx 4 cups of chicken or turkey broth (you want two inches of liquid, so this will depend on your pan size). The bird is placed on the rack breast down a popped in the hot oven. After one hour, flip the bird (carefully!) and in it goes for another hour. If you see the breast is browning too quickly, cover lightly with foil. Keep and eye on the liquid in the pan and add more when necessary to keep the 2 inch level.
Post flip farmer's tan

Use a thermometer at the thickest portion to be certain you are at 165 degrees. Take the bird out and let in rest before carving. With that handy rack insert, it was simple for me to remove the turkey to a rimmed baking sheet while I got to gravy making task.

I didn't take pics of my gravy procedure. I was trying to get Tom on the table before the kiddo had head to kara-tay. It has also been futile to have the kid help with picture taking. After an attempt last week, all I had was 43 shots of a dead palmetto bug. Admittedly, they were much better than anything I can do. (I'm working on it)

You have gorgeous skin!
I strained and defatted all that delicious liquid from the roasting pan. I set aside some of the fat to create a roux (I put the fat and flour right back in my roasting pan on my stovetop burner). I saved the veggies for my dog Layla's dinner. I buy everyone's love with food :) After cooking my roux well (but not browning) I added the warm, strained liquid back into the pan and whisked away (don't forget the juices under your now resting bird. Manna! I add the liquid slowly as too get the gravy to the perfect, silky and not gummy texture. If you don't use all the liquid, freeze it or save it for tomorrow's turkey soup. You could add a bit of white wine, enrich with cream etc. but this was a simple turkey for a Wednesday evening and it was already so darned good.

Lil' Turkey going for the gold. 
I had some frozen whole grain bread (that was squished by our turkey friend) that I made into a quick stuffing by cubing and toasting well, adding sauteed onion & celery and some dried herbs. I used the pan drippings to moisten before baking until hot.

We also had (my fave) roasted halved tomatoes topped with some shredded parm, olive oil, salt & pepper. These were Kumatos from Trader Joes. I love them. They are very sweet, without much acidity, so the parmesan is really nice on them. They were super juicy and so delicious when mingling with the stuffing.

The turkey was perfect. The breast meat was juicy, the skin was crisp, the dark meat was well cooked and flavorful. The pan drippings (really, it was a pan stock!) was incredible. Worth the price of admission. I love that I didn't have to spend a day brining or fussing. A roasted turkey was doable for a mid week meal!

(The dinner could have used something green but I'll make up for that tonight with a big green salad with nuts, dried fruit, chopped turkey and cheese).

I eat carrots when they are swimming in turkey fat
It was super cool that I didn't have to head out for one ingredient and managed a rounded dinner that left me with fabulous leftovers and a carcass for more stock. My fellas were thrilled and Layla loves me more than ever! She told me. With her eyes.

Big Turkey, making gold

 Thank you Ms. Dupree & Ms. Graubart!


  1. YUM!!! i miss TJ's down here in savannah, but i think i'll just have to try a bit of turkey from Fresh Market! xoxox

    1. TJ's is new here and it' the best! I think any decent turkey would do well with this method.
      We don't have a Fresh Market yet. Boo. I went to the Columbia location and loved it.

  2. Great shot of Layla's loving eyes. We miss them. And you know your sissy had a thing against turkey in the past, but I think we've cured her of it. :)