Sunday, December 30, 2012

3 Christmas Turkeys

Photo: Miranda Johnson
A half hour episode of Americas Best Kitchen called 10 Steps on How to Cook Turkey, is to blame for my obsession with poultry this year. I bought a turkey. Bonnie bought two more and as of yesterday, all three have been cooked and consumed. What is different this year is that I am carefully following the cooking method, the Ten Best Steps to preparing the ultimate turkey. The first step is to thoroughly thaw the bird, taking out the neck and the giblets before putting it in the oven, something new for me.

Photo: Miranda Johnson
Continuing on, I have been concentrating on 3 steps: how to make the best dressing, how to prepare two turkey rubs, and how to carve the turkey. The tip for the best dressing is two fold: use a recipe and 1 ½ pounds of good quality bread. For 30 years, I thought turkey dressing was to made from dry bread collected over the season, but not to outguess America’s Best Kitchen I gave their idea a try, cubed and dried a loaf of bread I had just cooked. No guessing with the spices, just measure – and that part of the dinner was great.

Photo: Miranda Johnson
The second step is to salt the turkey under the skin, going in under the breast, separating the skin from the meat and rubbing the front, back and legs with 2 tablespoons of coarse salt. When my hands were under the skin about 3 inches over my wrists, I was giving myself a lot self-congratulatory messages, just to keep myself going. Then I wrap the bird in saran wrap and get it back in the fridge for 24 hours before cooking it. I have cooked all three turkeys now. I don’t quite have the knack of the whole process, but am much better than when I began.

I also watched Christopher Kimball carve the turkey – and for some reason I decided, if I cook the rest of the dinner, why not finish it off. I wasn’t too good with the second turkey. The carving felt more like trying to pin down an objecting child and diaper it. The most I could be grateful for is that no person was in the kitchen taking pictures while I was doing it.

Sounds like too much work? Oh well, I am just testing out the thesis of America’s Test Kitchen that they have found the perfect method for moist turkey breast and sumptuous trimmings. And I am always getting the giblets and the neck out of the cavity before cooking the turkey. I call that progress.


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