Thanksgiving recipes: The turkey

  • Updated: November 23, 2011 - 4:42 PM
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No matter how you carve it, the turkey is often the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal.

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LIDIA'S ROAST TURKEY AND PAN SAUCE

Serves 8 to 10.

If you're busy, skip the pan sauce (or use it to flavor a gravy). Adapted from Lidia Bastianich on lidiasitaly.com by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

• 12- to 14-lb. turkey, fresh or thawed, including neck and giblets

• 11/2 tbsp. kosher salt

• 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 2-in. chunks

• 2 large onions, peeled and chopped into 1-in. pieces

• 3/4 lb. celery, rinsed and cut into 2-in. chunks

• 1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled into 1/2-in. pieces, optional

• 1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns

• 1 sprig fresh rosemary

• 4 to 6 c. vegetable broth (salted or unsalted; see recipe)

Directions

Arrange a rack low in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take out the giblets and neck from the turkey and save. Remove and discard any lumps of fat from the cavities. Rinse the bird inside and out, in cool running water, clearing the cavity of any residue. Rinse the giblets, too. Pat everything dry with paper towels.

Set the wire roasting rack in the pan and the turkey on the rack with the neck and giblets in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt inside the main turkey cavity and the remainder of salt over the outside of the bird. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil on the turkey, a bit at a time, and spread it with your hands to coat the entire skin, including the back. Twist the tip joint of each wing down and forcefully fold it so it stays in place under the neck (think of placing both your hands behind your neck). Rest the oiled turkey on the rack, flat on its back, wings folded and breast up.

Toss together in a bowl the carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms and peppercorns with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, mixing everything well. If using an unsalted stock, mix 1 teaspoon kosher salt with the vegetables.

Put a handful or 2 of mixed vegetables (and the rosemary branch) loosely into the cavity of the turkey. Spread all the rest in one layer in the pan bottom, all around the turkey. Push the vegetable pieces under the rack, if your pan is small, so they will cook in the stock. Before pouring in the broth, move your pan near the oven, so you won't have far to carry it. Pour the broth into the roasting pan on the side, without wetting the turkey. Depending on pan size, you'll need 4 to 6 cups of stock to fill the bottom about 1/3-inch deep. Add more stock (or water) if necessary.

Tear two long sheets of aluminum foil. Tent the turkey by covering one side of the pan with the first sheet, arching it well above the turkey. Crimp the foil against the rim of the pan so it stays in place without touching bird. Cover rest of pan and turkey with second sheet of foil (or more if needed), overlapping the sheets several inches. Press bottom of foil tightly against sides of pan, all around, sealing the tent completely.

Carefully place the covered pan on the oven rack and push it well to the back of the oven for maximum heat. Let the turkey roast undisturbed for 2 hours. Open the oven, pull roasting pan to the front and lift off the foil sheets. The pan juices should be bubbling away and the steaming turkey will be mostly pale. With a ladle or bulb baster, baste turkey all over with pan juices and return it to the oven. Save the foil.

Roast the turkey uncovered for 30 minutes to an hour, to brown skin and cook meat to a safe internal temperature. After 30 minutes, baste again and check internal temperature; continue roasting, if necessary, until the meat reaches 160 degrees. If the breast is getting too dark, cover it loosely with a sheet of foil.

Carefully remove the roasting pan and lift the turkey out of the pan and onto the baking sheet. Cover the turkey loosely with the foil and keep it in a warm place while you make the sauce (if you're not making the sauce, let meat rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving).

To make the pan sauce: Remove turkey neck and giblets (not liver) from roasting pan and place in a saucepan. With a potato masher, crush the cooked vegetables in the roasting juices, breaking them into little bits. Set a sieve on the saucepan and pour everything out of the roaster into the sieve, scraping up all the juices, vegetables, liver and flavorful caramelized bits. Press vegetables and other solids against the sieve with a spoon to release their liquid and discard what's left in sieve.You should have 1 to 2 quarts of pan juices (depending on how much stock you started with and the roasting time). Set the saucepan over high heat, bring the juices to a boil and let them reduce, uncovered.

To finish the sauce, pour into the boiling sauce any turkey juices that accumulated in a rimmed baking sheet. When the sauce has reduced almost by half, taste it for salt and add a bit more if you like. Remove the turkey neck and giblets and bring back to a simmer. Strain again, this time through a fine-meshed sieve into a measuring cup or other narrow container. Let it rest for a minute, then spoon off the fat layer that's accumulated on top. Thicken the sauce with breadcrumbs if it's too liquid.

To serve, slice meat and arrange all the pieces on a serving platter. Pour any juices left in the pan or on the cutting board over the meat, and then nap all the pieces with a cup or more of the finished sauce. Bring the platter to the table and let people serve themselves. Put the rest of the sauce in a bowl and pass it.

Nutrition information per 4-oz. serving, with skin (no pan sauce):

Calories 250 Fat 13 g Sodium 450 mg Carbohydrates 0 g Calcium 25 mg Saturated fat 3 g Protein 31 g Cholesterol 90 mg Dietary fiber 0 g Diabetic exchanges per serving: 4 1/2 lean meat.

 

CITRUS BRINE FOR TURKEY

Makes enough for 1 turkey.

Note: Many cooks prefer to use a brine for their turkey overnight to keep it moist and flavorful when roasting. A brined turkey will release salty pan juices, so if you're using the liquid to make gravy, be sure to taste before adding any additional seasonings. Adapted from allrecipes.com by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

• 1 c. salt

• 1 lemon, cut into wedges

• 1 orange, cut into wedges

• 1 medium onion, cut into wedges

• 3 garlic cloves

• 4 bay leaves

• 1 tbsp. dried thyme

• 1 tbsp. ground black pepper

• 11/2 gallons cold water

Directions

Rub salt onto your turkey, and place remaining salt, lemon, orange, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and pepper into a large container (such as a 5-gallon plastic bucket -- clean, of course!). Place the turkey in the container, and fill with water. Refrigerate overnight. Discard brine after removing turkey.

Rinse turkey, and pat dry.

Place turkey, breast side up, in a roasting pan, tucking wings under the breast. Roast the turkey in a preheated 325-degree oven for 2 hours. During this time, baste the legs and back twice with 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and pan juices. Cover loosely with foil to prevent overcooking, and continue roasting until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the deepest part of the thigh. Let turkey rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

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