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Let's Talk Turkey (and Gravy)

2010 Turkey
In addition to using homemade stock, sometimes I use white wine and the stock. It makes a flavorful gravy.

I usually try to buy an organic free-range turkey. I find that they are moist - probably because they are usually fresh. I am definitely in the camp of stuffing the bird. I know there are people that say that by stuffing the bird, this dries the bird out and you can kill your family by stuffing the turkey. Well the turkey has always come out moist and I haven't killed any family member yet.  I remove the turkey from the oven after ensuring that the turkey thigh is about 165. I immediately remove the stuffing and set it in a covered dish to keep warm. I never stuff the bird the night before. But let me get back to actually getting the bird in the oven.

First off, the night before I wash the turkey and place it in a shallow bowl in the refrigerator with no covering. This dries out the skin and allows it to become nice and crisp in the oven. I place the turkey on top of a bed of onions, carrots, and celery in a heavy duty roasting pan-not one of those flimsy foil pans. Invest in a heavy duty roasting pan it makes the difference. First of all clean up is a breeze and you can make the gravy right in the pan on the top of the stove.  Getting back to the bed of veg - this allows the vege to collect the drippings and makes the gravy so flavorful.

Next up I stuff the bird in both the cavity and the neck. You can either use thick thread and sew the cavity closed but I find a nice wedge of aluminum foil works just as well. Next I smear the whole bird with butter (everything's better with butter). Season with salt and pepper. Shield the wings and legs with aluminum foil. Now it's all ready to go in a 300 convection oven. I baste the bird every 20 minutes. I know, I know some people don't believe in basting either. For a 15lb turkey it takes about 3 1/2 hours (remember this is a convection oven). About the last 30-45 minutes I remove the shield off the legs but not off the wings. If you think the skin is getting a little too dark, you can cover that with foil but I've never had to do that. Tent a piece of aluminum foil and let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving.

To make the gravy, I use a roux. You mix equal parts of flour and butter. It makes a thick paste and you let it toast a little in a skillet. In the roasting pan remove vege - they have done their work, add your stock. Heat the liquid to a good simmer.  Gradually add the roux to thicken the gravy. Don't add too much at once because it may take a little bit to thicken. If you use a roux, there are no lumps. Now you may be thinking this is an awful lot of butter between coating the turkey and the roux, but it's Thanksgiving. You're not eating like this everyday.

While you are working on the gravy, have the Sous Chef carve the turkey. He's really gotten the hang of carving the turkey - I'm not that good.
2011 Carved Turkey


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