Sunday, March 6, 2011

Turkey Time!

Originally posted 11/1/10

Good morning!  As you awake from your candy coma, what is your first thought?  More candy?  No!  Let’s put away the Halloween decorations ASAP?   Nope, that’s just my husband.  Time to start planning Thanksgiving!!  Ok, that might just be me who gets super fired up for planning  what can only be known as the best eating day of the year.  So bust out the maternity pants, just like Joey Tribiani…..because it is time to talk Turkey Day!  I will be featuring a great Thanksgiving recipe every Monday until the big day.  Today it is the main dish, Turkey!!!

Now I’m not the world’s biggest turkey fan.  I usually prefer the sides to the main course.  I would much rather dive face first into the mashed potatoes then waste precious belly space on turkey. Turkey was like vegetables….a necessary evil.  But no more!  No more, I tell you!  I have created a recipe for turkey that actually has me creating a space on my plate for it.  This recipe gives you a turkey that is moist, slightly sweet, and definitely yummy.  And it looks super pretty too!

I started with a 10 pound turkey.  I let it sit out on my counter for a couple of days to defrost.  I remember my mom always putting it in our garage to defrost.  If I did that here, it would remain frozen, or act as bear bait…..so inside it stayed.  Yes, it is better to let it defrost in the fridge, but I didn’t have that long.  Don’t you judge me;)
After he was good and defrosted, I rinsed him (he, she?  Which do we eat?  I will have to Google that.) and patted him dry.  I also pulled his guts out that the good people at the turkey factory had put into a bag for me.   I put him on a roasting rack, breast up, over celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves and chicken stock.  Don’t worry about peeling the carrots or onions.  They will just get tossed later.  Look how nicely his legs are crossed…..I didn’t do that.  He came to me all polite like that.  However, I did tuck his little wings underneath him.
Next, I gave the little fella a massage with the above ingredients.  I mixed the softened butter with chopped fresh sage, chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper.  You can use any herbs you want here.  It really is all about the butter, which gives the turkey a crispy, brown skin and keeps the meat moist.  For those of you that hate the word “moist” like I do, I apologize.  I really can’t think of a better word to describe it…..
First, I rubbed the butter mixture under the turkey’s skin, which I so rudely loosened from his body.  This turkey checked his dignity at the door.
Then I coated his entire body with the butter mixture, inside and out……You have to really rub the little fella down, then salt and pepper him.  My turkey roasted at 325.  I expected the entire cooking time to be about 3 hours and 15 minutes.  You will have to adjust the time, depending on how big your turkey is.  About halfway through, I decided the breast was getting too brown, so I covered him, very loosely, in foil.
About an hour before the turkey was done, I simmered together 1 jar of Whiskey Apple Spread, Dijon mustard, 1 large shallot sautéed in butter and chicken stock. 
I started by sautéing the shallot in butter.  Then I added the other ingredients and simmered for about 20 minutes.
So here he is, still about 45 minutes from being done.  Doesn’t it already look so, so good?  I poured the sauce over the turkey, making sure to coat the entire bird.  I put him back in the oven for about another 45 minutes, uncovered.
OMG-doesn’t it look delicious?  Seriously, best turkey ever.  He roasted for 3 hours and 15 minutes, and I used a meat thermometer to know if he was really cooked.  The smells from this turkey are amazing….you can smell the rosemary, mustard, apple spread….so good.

After the turkey was done, it was gravy time.  I didn’t take pictures because it was getting very close to trick-or-treat time, and I had to get my hurry on due to antsy children.  Basically, I skimmed off most of the fat…I saved about 2 Tablespoons.  Like I said above I tossed the veggies that had roasted in the pan.  They had done their job already.  I heated the fat, and then I added about 2 Tablespoons of flour.  Whisk that together for a couple of minutes, and then slowly add the turkey drippings back in.  Whisk until thickened, and that’s that.  This makes the best gravy!  All of the mustard, apple spread, veggies, etc. combine to make a super flavorful gravy that is so much better then typical turkey gravy.  I really hope you try this recipe for your Thanksgiving.  You will thank me;)

Whiskey Apple Turkey
1 turkey, rinsed and patted dry
2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
3 cups chicken stock
1 stick butter, plus 2 Tablespoons
¼ cup fresh rosemary, chopped
¼ cup fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 jar Whiskey Apple Spread
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 shallot, finely chopped

Place celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves and 2 cups of chicken stock in the bottom of a roasting pan.  Put turkey on roasting rack and set it in the roasting pan. 
Combine 1 stick of softened butter with the rosemary, sage, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Spread butter mixture all over the turkey, including under the skin and inside the cavity.
Roast the turkey at 325 degrees.  If the breast gets too brown, loosely cover with foil.  Approximate cooking time is 3 hours and 15 minutes.
When the turkey has 1 hour left, sauté shallot in 2 tablespoons of butter.  When softened, add whiskey apple spread, mustard and about 1 cup of chicken stock.  Simmer for 20 minutes, or until thickened.  Pour over turkey, coating entire bird.
Continue roasting at 325 degrees for another 45 minutes or until turkey is done.  Let turkey rest for about 20 minutes.  Discard vegetables and reserve drippings for gravy.

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