Sunday, January 2, 2011

This Bird Is Cooked!

Well, stick a fork in the holidays, they're done.  Sigh.  Can we rewind and do it all over again??  The older I get, the faster it all seems to go.  I'm still finding bits of wrapping paper from Christmas Eve around the house and tomorrow morning we'll be packing lunch kits again.  CAN WE JUST SLOW DOWN??

And, to that end, we're having one last, old-fashioned slow cooking holiday meal at our house today.  We've got the cutest little baby turkey (11 lbs) and we're fixing 'most' of the trimmings to go with it.  'Most' means whatever we've got around here that tastes good with turkey.  By game time, we'll be eating like royalty!  (GO SAINTS!)

So, because we slept totally late today (9:30, can you believe it???), I actually had to put my bird on CONVECT to make sure it's done around 1pm.  It already smells heavenly in here.  I'm stopping to write this down and then it's off to make the roux for my gravy.  We make tons of gravy to make sure we've got loft of leftovers for Turkey Grillades (more on that tomorrow!).

Spud and I have this turkey thing down to a science.  We do it as a team.  That way, one person's hands remain dry (and untouched by the dreaded turkey 'cooties') and the other's get wet and funky.  Guess who is who?  I hand Spud the ingredients and he stuffs my bird. (.....pause for snickers......)  We'll, I've never written down how we do this so, here goes.....

1 turkey (cook according to weight, don't know?  read the package and watch the timer)
1/2 cup total of your favorite dry seasonings (I mix Greek and Latin or whatever I have)
celery (washed stalks to stuff your bird)
rosemary (mine is fresh from my garden)
1 orange
1 apple
olive oil (to mix with dry ingredients and form a paste
PREHEAT OVEN:  350 (or convect 325)

First WASH THE TURKEY and remove the giblets & neck from the cavity - wash them too.  It drives me NUTS when people don't thoroughly rinse poultry before cooking!  That stuff is funky, y'all!  Place the giblets etc. in a bowl and put them in the fridge for gravy later.  Place the turkey in a sufficiently-large pan that has sides high enough to contain all the inevitable (and desired) drippings.  Put your dry seasonings in a bowl.  Cut the orange and apple in half.  Dredge the cut side in the seasonings to coat and set the fruit aside.  Now, take the olive oil and mix enough into the seasonings to form a thick paste.  Once this is done, take that paste and give the turkey a good massage.  Rub it all over, including deep inside the cavity and up under the skin - where you can loosen it, but especially on the breasts.  (Am I writing a romance novel??  Insert photo of Fabio here.  Check out them giblets!!)

Anyway.....once you've used up all the paste and evenly rubbed it all over, insert the celery and fruit into the cavity of the bird.  Last, but not least, lift the breast skin and insert the rosemary up under there.  If you care to, you can actually get artsy and make that look really nice.  Otherwise, just shove it in and be done!

That's it!  On convect, our little bird will be done in about 2.5-3 hours.

Now, for the gravy!  It is a thing of beauty, y'all.  I'm amazed when people either approach gravy as an afterthought or, gasp, don't make any at all.  At our house, gravy is a major food group!

1 thick bottom soup pot
1 deep stock pot filled with water and simmering
olive oil to coat bottom of pot
turkey gizzards, livers, neck etc.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped 'trinity' - onions, celery, bell pepper

Take thick pot and pour olive oil in to coat bottom.  Add turkey parts and fry them over medium heat till the skin starts to brown and little bits of brown get stuck on the bottom of the pot.  Be careful because they will 'splatter' lots of hot grease!  Keep the kids away, for sure.  At the same time, have your stock pot going on simmer.  It's best to have the two pots next to each other on the stove. 

Once the turkey parts are rather browned on the outside, transfer them carefully into the stock pot where they will boil endlessly.  This accomplishes two things:  it cooks the pieces all the way through and makes you a nice pot of turkey stock to use for the gravy.  Back to the heavy bottom pot.  Now that the turkey parts are removed, it's time to make your roux.  You should have about 1/4 inch of oil in the bottom of the pot (add some if you don't).  Now, add flour (half at first) to make a paste a little thinner than peanut butter.  You may not use all the flour.  Once you've got that past thoroughly mixed together, crank up the heat!  Now, stir and stir and stir until your kids are all grown and off to college.  You want the roux to cook over medium heat until it's the color of a brown paper bag.  If it starts to smoke, TURN IT DOWN.  If you burn it, you've got to start all over so you don't want that to happen.  Just be patient.  Visit with whomever is in the kitchen.  Have a drink.  Listen to the radio.  It will take some time.

Have your trinity nearby.  Once the roux reaches 'brown paper bag,' throw in the trinity which will stop the browning.  It will get 'gloppy' momentarily.  Don't panic.  Just stir it all together.  Stir until the veggies start to wilt and turn transparent - about a minute or two.  Then, start to add the stock.  Add four large soup ladles to begin with.  Stir until the veggie glop and stock incorporate.  Now, let this go on a slow boil over medium heat until it starts to thicken and reduce.  This will go on forever....add stock, stir, let reduce....add stock, stir, let reduce....until you use up all the stock and then add the gizzards etc to the gravy pot itself.  Believe me, it's well worth the effort!  And, as the gravy goes through this process (takes an hour or two), all the ingredients will break down and meld into the most divine gravy!  Save the leftovers, because you'll need them tomorrow morning for Turkey Grillades and Grits.  More on that tomorrow.

I hope this is clear.  It's so much like second nature to me.  I really hope you can understand the instructions.  Let me know if you have any questions.

I took some pictures of the turkey prep.  It remains to be seen if I can figure out how to actually get them on here.  Learning every day, you know!  I'll get it eventually.  Check back later, there might be visuals!

Well, got to go make gravy now.  Meanwhile....what's for breakfast???


  1. My Mimi ( Aunt Marg to you ) stuffed an onion or two inside the bird when she wasn't stuffing it with actual dressing. When did we stop that anyway and why? They never killed one of us with the holiday dressing straight out of the turkey cavity. Horrors!
    I swear the flavors came from her seasoned iron pots. Could we get them all back for just a day or two? Sigh......

  2. Can you adapt this for tofu for me?