Saturday, November 12, 2011

Talking turkey ... 'cos it's almost Christmas

I'm ba-ack! Well, mostly I'm almost recovered from a rather nasty bout of bronchitis which knocked me on my back for about 10 days until I dragged my ass to the doctor and got antibiotics. Once I got the antibiotics, I was on a steady improve almost immediately (except for a night of heaving 'cos the antibiotics didn't agree with my stomach). I had to go on a bland diet (no fun!) for the duration until I'm off the antibiotics though I did take a short break from it in order to do some cooking ... and of course, the eating after that.

As we know it's coming close to Christmas. In our part of the world, Thanksgiving is not a holiday so even though it's only early November, we're gearing up for Christmas. The shops have all their Christmas decorations out, Christmas cards are doing a roaring trade and my family are already making plans for Christmas lunch.

Today, in preparation for Christmas, we did some Christmassy cooking. Turkey, ham, BBQ prawns (after all, it's Summer over here!), Christmas cake (made into a Bombed Alaska), fruit coulis Champagne .... mmmmm ..... yum!!!

It was also a day of fun and frivolity as we chatted, cooked at ate.

So ... let's talk turkey.

Instead of your traditional whole turkey stuck into the oven that comes out crinkly and dry (though there are bits of that I do like ... can you say "thigh meat"?), this was much more tasty and fun.

Preparing the turkey:
  • First off, we take a whole turkey. A size 34 turkey which is rather small and weighing about 3.4kg will feel a good 6 to 8 people, more than amply, especially since there are lots of sides and dessert to follow.
  • We then de-bone the turkey and cut off the important bits: turkey breast pieces and turkey thighs.
  • Then we save the rest of the turkey for stock.
  • With the turkey thighs, we de-bone the thigh, so it's just the meat. Remember to cut off the sinew 'cos that's going to be tough and chewy and you don't want that.
  • With the breast meat, make sure to cut as close to the bone as possible so that you get a nice big piece of meat.

Cooking the turkey breast:
  • Take the turkey breast and lift one side of the skin
  • Put in a few thin slices of butter under the skin - about 100g of butter (this will keep the meat moist)
  • Repeat for the second breast
  • Then, season both pieces of the turkey breast with salt and pepper - be generous 'cos there's a lot of meat going on
  • Take one piece seasoned turkey breast, put it on a sheet of tin foil that has been lined with baking paper. Roll it up into a log
  • Repeat for the second turkey breast
  • Turn on the oven to 160dC
  • Put both turkey breasts into a roasting pan and fill the pan with about 1/2 - 1cm of water
  • Put turkey breasts into oven and cook for 1.5 hours until ready (you can check this by sticking a thermometer into it. You want your turkey to be sitting at around 75dC
  • When the turkey is ready, take it out and rest it for 30 minutes, then carve and serve

Turkey breast after butter goes into skin

Cooking the turkey thighs:
  • First off you will need some stuffing. I'll post the RECIPE for the stuffing below
  • Take the turkey thigh and open it flat, meat side up, laying on a sheet of tin foil lined with baking paper
  • Season the turkey thigh with salt and pepper (be generous)
  • Repeat for the other turkey thigh
  • After seasoning, fill lay a layer of stuffing across the whole of the turkey thigh and then roll up the turkey thigh into a log
  • Wrap the turkey thigh in the log shape in the foil and baking sheet and set aside
  • Repeat for the other turkey thigh
  • Place the turkey thighs into a roasting pan (no water needed this time)
  • At this point your oven is already on and cooking the turkey breast, about 30 minutes into cooking the turkey breast put the turkey thigh into the oven. You want the turkey thigh to cook for about 1 hour
  • Check to see if the turkey thigh is cooked, again about 75dC with a thermometer
  • When ready, take out of oven and rest for 30 minutes, then carve and serve

Note: this will allow both the turkey breasts and thighs to be ready about the same time

RECIPE for stuffing:

  • 2 onions, diced finely and cooked till translucent but not browned or caramelised
  • 1 bag of walnuts, diced
  • 1 jar of cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 bunch of sage, chopped
  • 150g of bread crumbs
  • 400g of pork mince
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Season generously with salt and pepper
  • 150g butter, softened

  • Put all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and mix throughly

RECIPE for turkey gravy:

  • Take the remaining bits of the turkey that has not been used so far - carcass, wings, etc., and roast in oven at 180dC for 1 hour until nicely browned
  • Boil in a large pot of water
  • Put roasted turkey bits into water and boil the turkey stock for about 1 hour (longer if you have time)
  • Remove the turkey bits from the stock and continue to simmer to reduce the stock to a thickened state (you can cheat and use corn flour to thicken it a bit more if you like really thick gravy)
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Pour over turkey when ready to eat

So that's it for all the turkey-ness. I love turkey, so I'm particularly fond of these dishes. In fact, I'm thinking, I don't need Christmas to do this. I might just serve this when the mood takes me and I feel like some turkey.

Gobble! Gobble! everyone.

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