Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What a turkey!

Fact versus fiction
Did you know that there is quite
a bit of Turkey folklore out there?
I've cooked a few in my day but
not for years. Feeling slightly rusty,
I decided to study up on America's
favorite fowl. After scouring the
Internet for days I've found quite a
bit of dramatically conflicting advice.
Slowly I've pieced together a strategy
for the big day. Assuming that some
of you share the same struggle, I've
decided to publish my knowledge
for all of you turkeys out there!
Go ahead, get fresh
All the experts agree on one thing -
GET FRESH. So... I've been trying
to find the best fresh turkey in town
and that's not easy. You see I didn't
plan ahead therefore I did not order
a proper piece of poultry. While my
preference was organic, sadly few
seem to share that orientation here
in rural Montana. So I scoured our
local Albertsons, Butcher Shop, and
the Hutterite Farm Stand and finally
found a hopefully fresh fowl. Next
year I'll get a bird hunting license!
You dirty bird!
Do NOT, I repeat do NOT wash
your bird. I understand that just
saying that makes all of our dear
grandmothers stir in their graves.
However the truth is there's more
risk of spreading bacteria when
you wash rather than a simple pat
down of your favored fowl. Any
bacteria on the bird will be killed
by the heat. Whereas bacteria on
your kitchen towel, sink, or counter
just might kill you. Don't forget to
Smother with love
At this point in our relationship,
I think just about all of you know
that I adore butter, specifically
FRENCH butter. However given
I'm in the outer provinces, I will
have to make do with imported
Irish butter. The first time that I
baked a bird I was taught that you
must season inside and out (salt
and pepper only) then smother it
in BUTTAH. Since then I've learned
to gently mush it between the skin
and meat. MIND THE GAP!
Stuffed and ready for action
In my opinion the best part of the meal
is the "dressing". There are many rumors
about people getting food poisoning
from poultry stuffing. While I'm certain
the same fools who spread that trash
also believe in Sasquatch, it is a vicious
lie! The truth is that as long as you don't
stuff it too tight the dressing will absorb
all of the juices, expand, and absolutely
cook through. The temperature is more
than high enough to kill any bacteria in
the process. So go ahead, fill the void
and enjoy the thrill of "dressing" up!
Thou shalt not sew!
The common formula is fifteen
minutes per pound at 325 degrees.
Lots of fools sew up the orifices.
I simply cover the open end with
a piece of aluminum foil tucked in
around the edges. Not only is my
stuffing moist, it's easy to retrieve.
Experts insist on roasting a turkey
without the cover so leave your
Grannie's pan lid in the basement.
Remember to cover the breast with
a tent of aluminum foil and remove
during the final hour. PERFECT!
Liquid refreshment
One tip that I've tried and especially
like is roasting your turkey on a rack
in the pan over a lake of liquid. Just
add one to two cups (depending on
the pan size) of chicken stock. Be
careful, use just enough to rise up
under the rack! This rejuvenating
reservoir will keep your meat moist.
During the final hour of cooking,
baste the skin several times. That
will make it all crispy and brown.
Just the way I like my men to be
on the beach in the summer!
The pause that refreshes
When it's over it's over. Most important,
do not overcook. Once out of the oven,
you must let your bird sit and rest for
thirty minutes before carving. While some
recommend covering it, others insist you
leave it uncovered. All that I know is that
this rest allows one to have a cocktail as
the turkey's juices redistribute throughout
the meat. Another controversy is removal
of the stuffing. Some advise immediately.
Others prefer post carving to allow excess
juices to flow into the dressing. Whatever