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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Make-Ahead Turkey

One of the challenges of making a Thanksgiving meal is to have enough time (and oven space) to get everything done.  Here's a recipe from Cook's Country that I put in my newsletter a couple of years ago.  They've come up with a way to make a delicious turkey prior to Thanksgiving Day--so you can concentrate on other things.  The techniques are a little unusual, but, if it saves you valuable time, it's worth the try!

Check the label when buying a turkey.  If there's an ingredient list, the turkey's been enhanced and will work for this recipe.  If you prefer a natural turkey, brine it by dissolving 1 cup of salt in 2 gallons of cold water.  Submerge the turkey in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 3-6 hours.  Proceed with Step 1, Day 1, omitting the salt for seasoning.

2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
4 (1 1/2-1 3/4 lb) turkey leg quarters, trimmed
1 (6-7 lb) whole bone-in turkey breast, trimmed
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Salt & pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  1. Adjust oven racks to middle and lowest positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place first 5 ingredients in a large roasting pan.  Set V-rack inside pan.  Pat turkey legs and breast dry with paper towels.  Arrange 2 legs and breast, skin side up, in rack.  Brush with butter and season with salt and pepper.  Place other 2 legs in 13x9" baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place roasting pan on middle rack and baking dish on lower rack.  Roast until breast registers 160 degrees and thighs, 175 degrees, about 2-2 1/2 hours.  Transfer turkey in rack to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
  3. Transfer veggies and legs in baking dish to a large pot, scraping up any browned bits.  Add broth, water, bay leaf and 1 tsp pepper and bring to a boil.  Simmer over med-low heat until reduced to 5 cups, 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours.  Strain into a large container, discarding solids.  Let cool for 1 hour, cover, refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.  Wrap cooled legs and breast tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  1. Scrape fat from top of chilled stock and reserve 5 Tbsp.  Bring stock to simmer in a medium saucepan.  Set aside 1/4 cup.  Heat reserved fat in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until golden, 3-4 minutes.  Slowly whisk in remaining stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced to 4 cups, 12-14 min.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 500 degrees.  Transfer legs and breast to cutting board.  Separate legs into thighs and drumsticks and arrange on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.  Cut breast meat from bone into 2 single breasts.  Remove skin from each in 1 piece, reserve.  Slice breast crosswise into 1/4" slices and place on 18x12" piece of foil, keeping slices together.  Pour 2 Tbsp reserved stock over each breast and top with reserved skin.  Wrap tightly and place on rack with legs.
  3. Roast until turkey is heated through and thighs and drumsticks are crisp, 20-25 min.  Discard breast skin.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with gravy.