Monday, November 14, 2011

Y'all Be Faithful

Two things are critical to a Thanksgiving meal: turkey and faith.  The turkey of course being the iconic centerpiece and the faith being what pushes you to spend an entire afternoon roasting that turkey to perfection.  As I meander through this Thanksgiving meal, I'm learning just how much faith I lost over the years.  Last year I attempted a jalapeno and smoked paprika turkey.  My result was a dry bird with an incredible salty gravy..... not a great combination.  So, in an effort to return faith to the table, I dug out a basic recipe and decided to make the largest midweek dinner this family has seen.

In reality, a turkey is no more difficult than chicken or any other roasted meal. However, you really want to focus on the gravy; this is what saves your ass should you botch the turkey and have a dry bird on your hands.  For this reason, I add 1 1/2 cup dry white wine to the bottom of the pan before roasting as the drippings are much more flavorful and lead to a better gravy. This particular recipe doesn't call for gravy, so my suggestion to find your own recipe, remove the veggies with a slotted spoon and prepare as desired.

Perfect Roast Turkey
Recipe By: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Parties!
I used a frozen turkey which I brined the evening before in Sur La Table's turkey brine.  If roasting a larger turkey, be more liberal with the amount of butter and increase the cooking time as needed. 

1 fresh turkey (12 pounds)*
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon halved
3 Spanish onions
1 head garlic halved crosswise
4 TB butter at room temperature*
1/2 cup good olive oil
8 carrots peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
10 red new potatoes halved
3 heads fennel, fronds removed and cut into wedges

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan.  
  3. Liberally salt with pepper in inside of the turkey cavity.  Stuff the turkey cavity with the thyme, lemon, one of the onions (quartered) and the garlic. Rub the outside of the turkey with the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  (If using, add wine to the roasting pan) 
  4. Tie legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.  Peel and slice the remaining onions, toss them with 1/4 cup olive oil and scatter them around the turkey.  
  5. Roast turkey for 1 hour.  Toss carrots, potatoes, and fennel with 1/4 cup olive oil and add to the orasting pan.  Continue to roast for about 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh.  
  6. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 20 minutes.  Stir the vegetables and return the pan tot he oven.  Continue to cook the veggies while teh turkey rests.  Slice the turkey and serve on a platter with the roasted vegetables. 
This was an amazing turkey with a fantastic gravy.  Also, I think I caught my mistake from last year; not sure if it's the wine, the seasonings or the vegetables but my drippings were already quite salty; so much so that I did not need to add any salt to the gravy.  Remember to taste before you go nuts on the salt and pepper; recipes are mere suggestions, not contracts.  Where is the beautiful photo of this turkey?  I forgot to snap one.... without proof of success, you just need to grab a turkey and have some faith.

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