Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner Wrap-Up: Turkey

So how was your holiday? Beppo and I spend our Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us. Every year I face the challenge of how to satisfy the Thanksgiving food cravings we both have, without overloading our plates, bellies or the refrigerator.

This means I have to limit the number of dishes on the table, and generally rules out turkey. Historically, we've had a chicken instead and that has satisfied our bird requirements. This year though, I became enraptured with the thought of having a locally-raised turkey. Tendercrop Farms, our local (year-round) farm market sells their own turkeys, and on a whim, I ordered one. The smallest turkey available weighed in at 11.5 pounds so I decided we'd cook the breast on Thanksgiving and I'd confit the legs and wings later (once I collect enough fat to do that with).

I cut the bird apart into its various parts and promptly put the neck, giblets and backbone into the stockpot. The legs and wings went into bags for freezer storage and the breast went into a brine solution in the fridge.

I thought it would be fun to try smoking the breast meat, so I turned to the web and settled on Steven Raichlen's method. I brined the breast and smoked it for about 1.5 hours (until the thermometer read 150).

This method worked wonderfully: the breast meat was juicy and flavorful and the oven was freed up for everything else that needed to go into it. I was also thrilled with the turkey's flavor. (I purchased a "natural" turkey breast at Whole Foods years ago: the flavor was unpleasantly gamy.) This bird was juicy and tasted wonderfully turkey-ish.

The drawbacks: the skin never browned so the presentation was sorta crappy and the applewood chips didn't seem to give much flavor at all (a benefit too: I can still make broth from the carcass).


Julia said...

We had a lot more people - our usual family party was cancelled, so we took folks in - so we had a big, also organic, bird.

I skewered up one end of the turkey, tossed in rosemary, bay leaves, dried mushrooms and white wine, closed up the other end, tented it with foil and turned down the heat after an hour, and forgot about it for the next four and a half.

We did have to shuttle the other dishes in and out around it, but we had an hour while the bird rested under a towel to finish/warm everything, so it turned out OK. Wouldn't want to try it with pie, though.

Sunday Cook said...

That turkey sounds deelish. I really have to start rotating dried mushrooms into my cooking more often.

Julia said...

Dood. CostCo. "Gourmet Mushroom Blend," morels, porcinis, whatever brazilian caps and ivory portabellas are. shiitake and oyster, eight ounces, a little over ten bucks.

Sunday Cook said...

I *own* them, I just don't think to use them. I'm going to try to think of them as a condiment.

I do use dried mushrooms in powder form sometimes: grind them up in a coffee grinder and then sprinkle liberally on meat before cooking - also a fun fancy-pants garnish on a creamy soup.

Julia said...

the powder thing sounds like a terrific idea. I've been stewing mine, pureering them and freezing it in ice cubes.

Sunday Cook said...

Ice cubes of porcini? Sheer genius.

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