Viewing post #1220047 by vic
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Turkey and Gravy
I decided I needed to roast one ahead of time if we wanted those yummy leftovers, since we'll have lots of people eating up the T-day bird. I make soup, tex-mex mole', other things, so we never have trouble using up leftovers. Even with just 3 of us, I roast a turkey every so often, and I do a big one -- if you're going to roast a turkey, go big!
Locally, turkeys are as low as 59 cents per pound... I got a nearly 25 pound one at Wegmans last weekend, let it thaw in a bucket of water on the deck, and roasted it a week ago. I know y'all are accomplished turkey-ists, but I thought I'd share my best tips anyway, since this turkey turned out exceptionally well!
1. Rub down the turkey with lemon juice (bottled) and salt, inside and out. Be generous; you're scrubbing not seasoning. Rinse a bit & pat dry.
2. Season the turkey UNDER the skin. Loosen the skin (just work your hand under it, tearing the connections with your fingers... not a pleasant job, but so worth it), and either put a layer of dressing underneath or slather it with applesauce mixed with lots of herbs. For my big turkey, I used nearly a cup of applesauce, 1/4 cup of "bouquet garni" dried herbs, 1 tablespoon each garlic powder and "California seasoned pepper" (if using straight ground black pepper, reduce to a generous teaspoon). This will moisten, flavor, and tenderize the meat.
3. Either stuff the turkey with dressing or fill the cavity with something tasty -- apples, onions, carrots -- they can be elderly things from the back of your veggie bin. Tie up the turkey to keep these things inside, and also tie around the bird to keep the wings and legs close to the body so they don't burn.
4. Don't roast with the breast up the whole time... the breast only needs to reach 160 degrees, while the thighs need to get to 180... if you cook the bird breast side up, you'll get dry overcooked white meat. I've cooked it breast side down for the first 1 1/2 to 2 hours and then flipped it... but this time I found an even better way!
Put the turkey ON ITS SIDE in the roasting pan, with one leg facing up. Roast at 375 degrees for the first hour (45 minutes if it's under 16 pounds), then TURN the turkey onto its other side (other leg facing up) and roast for another hour. Now TURN the turkey again so it's breast side up (the "normal" way), reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and stick a thermometer deep into the thigh. When the thigh meat reaches 170, remove the turkey from the oven. (The temperature will continue to rise while the turkey rests.)
Since the turkey doesn't roast breast side down, it doesn't get a squashed shape, and the breast meat doesn't "stew" in the drippings (I don't always bother with a rack). Turn the turkey with your hands, not with those big turkey forks that lead to disastrous slips. Several layers of paper towel or silicone potholders work to protect your hands.
Better yet, get a silicone "sling" that goes under the bird and has handles on each end. I just learned about those and ordered one from Amazon, currently on a great sale with a bonus thermometer: http://www.amazon.com/Maverick-Silicone-Roasting-Thermometer...
5. For fabulous flavor and the best gravy you ever tasted, don't just baste with pan juices... every 20 minutes or so, pour some WHITE WINE on the bird. Chardonnay is a good choice, but we've switched to Domaine de Pouy. Be generous and use up half to 3/4 of the bottle. The rest is for the cook - or for the soup stock.