Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Zee Sanks-giveen iz, how yoo say, veery Frwanch!

Normally homo edax rebels against the Norman Rockwell Americana vision of Thanksgiving and cooks a fine FRENCH rack of lamb in an herb and wine sauce with a fine Pouilley-Fuisse, with a salad of mixed greens, gorganzola, pears and candied pecans in a raspberry vinegarette, topped off by creme brulee or chocolate mousse, but this year - instead of just dining with his wife and his own Promethean culinary talent - he is stuck, with family coming in and expecting dinner with all the trimmings.

At the very least this worst case/nightmare scenario dinner, mainly featuring various tasteless tubers drenched in varying amounts of butter and sugar (or gravy), can be redeemed by a turkey done properly.

"We start off our feast by stuffing the turkey with a bottle of giiiinnnnn!"

- Tim Russell as Julia Child on
A Prarie Home Companion

It will start with a fresh 12-14 lb. turkey. The day before cooking it he will take 1.5 gallons of water, 1 c. of kosher salt and 1 c. of sugar, and put the turkey in a bucket in the brine.

He'll then refrigerate it for 12 hours, then take it out of the brine and dry it off with paper towels. He'll then put it on a rack and let it stand in the regrigerator uncovered to dry for 4-6 hours, breast side down.

He'll then stuff the thing with a mix of thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs, 3 coarsely chopped onions, 2 carrots coarsely chopped, and 2 stalks of celery (all of which are tossed in 2-3 T. butter)- 1/3 of the mix goes in the turkey, the remaining 2/3 gets spread at the bottom of the roasting pan.

H.E. will then cook the turkey at 450 for 1.5-2 hrs, adding 5 c. mix of water and wine before roasting; turn it 180 degrees half way through cooking and add more (even as much!) liquid as necessary.

Be sure that your thermometer registers 170 when inserted in the thigh and let the turkey stand for 30 minutes.

Meantime, to make the gravey:

Take the giblets and neck and cook in 1 T. oil till browned, then add 2 coarsely chopped medium yellow onions with the skin on and sautee with the giblets about 20 minutes on low heat til everything releases its juices. Then add 2-3 sprigs thyme and 6-8 sprigs parsley and 4 c. low sodium chicken broth (free range organic) and 2 c. water; simmer til you have about 5 c. liquid, strain and set aside (you can make this stock for your gravy the night before when you put your turkey in brine). Reserve and chop the giblets (discard the neck though) to add to your gravy.

When you take out the turkey, let it stand at least 30 min. on a cutting board or platter for carving.


In a separate burner, slowly cook into a roux 3-6 T. butter and 1/4 c. flour. Cook until a deep rich brown, with a nutty fragrance (about 15 minutes). Slowly whisk into the roux the reserved turkey stock until it is thoroughly mixed, and simmer for several minutes.

Put the roasting pan on a burner and over low heat (initially) scrap off the veggies at the bottom of the pan, deglazing the pan with 1 c. white wine. Remove contents of the pan and push the liquid through a strainer, return to pan, add gravy stock, simmer for a few minutes, add salt and pepper to taste.

Au Revoir (ya'll)!



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