Sunday, November 26, 2006

A perfect turkey - and next year's plan

The kids do not like stuffing, and we probably shouldn't eat it, so...

So I saw something in the paper ... no, it was instructions I heard on NPR for roasting a turkey. I've brined and butterflied a chicken before, for a recipe involving chicken and potatoes.
  1. Dissolve:
    • 1 c kosher salt
    • ½ c sugar
    in 2 qts water. Immerse bird and refrigerate about an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in lower middle position.
  3. Take a broiler pan, and line the bottom with foil. Spray with PAM™ or similar.
  4. Remove chicken from brine; rinse thoroughly
  5. Butterfly the chicken. Flatten breastbone. Position it on broiler-pan top and pat dry
  6. Peel
    • about 1kg potatoes
    and slice 3-5mm thick.
  7. Toss sliced potatoes with
    • 1 T olive oil
    • ½ t salt
    • a little pepper
    in a medium bowl
  8. Spread the potatoes evenly in the broiler-pan bottom
  9. Rub the chicken with
    • ½ T olive oil
    • pepper
  10. Place chicken, on broiler-top, atop the broiler-pan bottom (and potatoes)
  11. Roast chicken about 20 minutes, 'til spotty brown.
  12. Rotate pan. When an instant-read thermometer shows 160°F in thickest part of breast, and skin is deep brown (another 20-25 minutes maybe) you're done roasting
  13. Remove chicken to cutting board
  14. Remove broiler-pan top and blot excess oil from potatoes. Invert on (another!) board and peel the foil off the potatoes carefully.
The original recipe had some stuff about seasoned butter, which I never use.

What I did this year was... took a 23# (!) turkey, removed the backbone, and tried to flatten it onto the broiler pan. But I ran into two problems:
  • No mallet, and I hadn't thought of (or read about) using a rolling pin to flatten the bird. So it didn't get flattened.
  • The bird was too big for the broiler-pan! It dripped onto the oven floor.
Skipped brining the bird (too big!) and also skipped the dressing/stuffing.

I ended up roasting it about 4½ hours, starting at 450°F and immediately dropping the temp to about 350°F. I don't have an instant-read thermometer but pulled the bird out when the thickest part of the breast read a shade under 170°F. I did cover the breast with foil for about half the roasting time.

The bird came out just about perfect.

The plan for next year

Let's get about a 14# bird. I'll brine it (it'll actually fit in a pot that fits in the fridge) and actually flatten it. Maybe I'll run the oven at 450°F the whole time like the NPR recipe said, not dropping the temp to 350° at all.

And I'll make a quart of gravy instead of just two cups.

And I think I'll double the green bean casserole recipe too. For the uninitiated:
Combine in a casserole:
  • 2 (15-oz) cans French style sliced green beans
  • 1 can (10 oz?) cream of mushroom soup undiluted
  • half a small can of French fried onions
and bake at 350°F for a while, covered or not.

About 15 minutes before serving, remove cover (if you covered it in the first place) and sprinkle the rest of the fried onions atop the bean/soup mixture.

Remove from oven and serve hot

Like I said, I probably want to double that casserole recipe.

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