Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Quick Roasting a Thanksgiving Turkey

Written with Natalie Lochwin

With the big Thanksgiving holiday meal approaching, many of us are preparing for a family dinner and a roast turkey is often the centerpiece of the meal. Cooking turkey fills many with dread as making sure that a turkey is properly cooked is, of course, important, but overcooking a turkey leads to that awful dry meat that needs to be virtually drowned in gravy to be at all edible.

Many times, as well, a turkey far larger than is required is bought, and this means not only many hours of laborious monitoring, basting and attention, but also endless turkey leftovers.

In this blog we will look at a method of roasting a 12-15 lb. turkey that is quick, relatively easy, produces a turkey with a wonderfully crispy, brown skin and excellent flavour. Done right, it will come out delectably moist. We will also roast it with mixed vegetables and have a nice side of gravy for all those gravy lovers out there (and who, I must ask, does not love gravy). And this is cheaper and can be done in as little as two-and-half hours!

Right from the start, let us note that this method can only be done for a smaller bird in the 12-15 lb. range, as you actually physically turn the turkey several times during the cooking process. This method is not recommended for birds larger than 15 lbs.

First, take the turkey, remove any giblets, and salt it all over generously. Put the turkey in a large, heavy roasting pan. Then take 2 or 3 tablespoons of melted butter and 2 or 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, blend the two together, and brush it all over the turkey.

Set the oven rack to its lowest setting and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Now take the turkey and turn it, inside the roasting pan, on one of its sides with the drumstick sticking up. You will likely need to crunch up some aluminum foil into several balls and place it all around the bird to prevent it from falling over. Put the turkey in the preheated oven and leave it for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the turkey from the oven, and carefully, using oven mitts (and if possible with the help of your designated family sous-chef!) turn the turkey over onto its opposite side so that the other drumstick is facing up. Baste the bird with more of the butter/olive oil mix and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes. After 30 minutes repeat this, flipping the bird again (and basting) and then after a further 30 minutes do this one final time (meaning each side will have been drumstick up for two 30 minute cycles.)

Finally after these two hours of cooking, turn the turkey so that it is breast side up, baste again, and put back in the oven for a final 15-30 minutes. You want an instant read thermometer to read 175 degrees when placed in the thickest part of the thigh for it to be done. (If you opt to stuff the turkey, it is best if the stuffing is heated to 160 degrees, but I always prefer to cook stuffing separately as it complicates cooking times if you overstuff, or dries out or burns if you understuff.)

When you turn the turkey for the last 30 minute drumstick up rotation, you can at that point add some assorted vegetables to the pan to surround the turkey and to roast with it and its juices. Take some classics like squash, beets, potatoes, leeks, onions, and carrots (you can use any, all or others!) cut them up into nice rustic style chunks, toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper, (and, if you like, other seasonings like French Fry Spice or Italian Seasoning) and some fresh or dried thyme and place the seasoned vegetables around the turkey.

After cooking, take the turkey out, place on a platter and let sit for around 20 minutes. If the vegetables are not roasted enough for you, you can put them back in while the turkey rests.

As the turkey rests, it is time to make the gravy.

Once the vegetables and turkey have been removed from the roasting pan take the pan with any cooking liquid and leftovers and deglaze it on a medium heat burner with about 1/4 cup of dry white wine or a dry cider. Be sure to scrape off any remnants of vegetables and turkey to add to the mix. Add 1/2 a clove minced garlic or just smash a clove and simmer.

Add some whole dry thyme, 3/4 of a cup of vegetable or chicken broth and bring to a gentle simmer.

In a small frying pan add some olive oil and butter, and fry your favourite giblets until almost done.

Season with salt and pepper. Slice the liver giblets thinly to resemble mushrooms and set aside.

Thinly slice seven medium crimini  mushrooms (if crimini are not available you can substitute mushrooms of a different type) and sauté in the leftover pan grease where the giblets were cooked until lightly browned and soft.

Your gravy will have been simmering for several minutes. This is meant to be a more modern, thinner au jus style gravy.

Strain your gravy using a fine sieve forcing through any vegetable remnants. They will help thicken the gravy slightly.

Pour the gravy into a new pan, add the mushrooms and giblets. Taste and season to your liking.

It is now ready to serve. Carve the turkey, serve with the vegetables, cranberry sauce and any other sides of your choosing, top with lots of gravy, pop open a bottle of nice white wine and enjoy the holiday!

See also: Spinach, Mushroom and Walnut Pie

See also: Standing Prime Rib Roast done two ways: On the BBQ or in the oven with mushroom gravy

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