Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving turkey--Sunset recipe

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I prepared Thanksgiving turkey. I followed the Sunset recipe below, found in the November 2009 issue, except I substituted cranberry sauce for red currant jelly:

1 turkey (12-14 lbs.), cut up by butcher into seven parts total: two wings, two thighs, two legs and one whole chicken breast
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tbsp. each minced fresh sage, rosemary and thyme, divided
About 2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups white wine, divided
1/3 cup marsala
3 tbsp. red currant jelly

Do the following with your ingredients:

1) Preheat oven to 400 F
2) Throw the turkey parts into a bowl and coat with 2 tsp. of each herb, salt and pepper.
3) Pour 1 cup of wine into a roasting pan
4) Add legs and wings to pan
5) Roast 15 minutes, skin side down
6) Turn legs and wings over, then add breasts and thighs to pan, skin side up.
7) Pour in remaining wine
8) Roast 45 minutes to 1 hour, making sure a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast and thighs reads 160 F and juices run clear
9) Transfer meat to a cutting board, tent with foil and pour juices into saucepan
10) Add marsala, jelly (or, in my case, cranberry sauce) and remaining herbs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes.
11) Carve breast
12) Garnish with fresh sage or olive sprigs if desired

For my 14-pounder I went 15 minutes for Part 1 (legs and wings) and 45 minutes for Part 2 (adding the breast and thighs).

The recipe is built upon the premise that putting the entire turkey into the oven as one uncut bird leads to something either overdone (i.e. breast, thighs) or underdone (legs, wings). Hence, some parts will need more time inthe oven than others. The big benefits to the cook are that turkey is cut by the butcher and the turkey roasts for as little as an hour--how's that for quick?

The breast was good, especially with gravy, but wasn't quite as tender as my brother-in-law's brined turkey. Still, the returnn on investment (the return being flavor and tenderness, the investment being time and energy) is tough to top and I'd try a variation on this nine Thanksgivings out of ten. The dark meat was simply impeccable.