Thursday, November 23, 2023

Prepping the turkey for Thanksgiving

My family and I are gathering tomorrow, that's why I'm preparing the turkey tonight. Here are some of the vegetables that will be in the pan, under the turkey. I also added some onions. A lovely broth will result.

Here is the bird, after having been brined for 24 hours, sat in the fridge so that the skin could dry out.
I prepared this by carefully separating the skin over the breast, and then stuffing some fresh thyme, rosemary, sage and bay leave up underneath, along with butter. I haven't figured out how to get it way to the front, without tearing the skin; plus, I suspect it will all drip out anyway (see next picture), but it won't hurt any.

Here is the turkey after I've rubbed butter and olive oil all over the top and bottom, and sprinkled salt and pepper. I decided to interpose a rack between the bird and the vegetables; was that a mistake?

Also, note the position: it is breast down. That will protect the breast and enable the saddle of fat that sits along the backbone of the turkey to melt and drip down while the bird cooks. In the last stages, I'll flip the bird up and use the broiler to give the breast skin a good color.

 What you can't see is that I stuffed the cavities of the bird with onions, rosemary, bay leaves, and an orange and lime I had sitting around. Now I'm waiting till around 10 pm to stick it in a hot oven for the first hour, to kill any germs on the surface; then I'll turn the oven down to a very low setting for it to cook overnight. See you in the morning!

Update, 8:40 am...

Wakey, wakey! Let's check the turkey!

First things first: I started some coffee. Then I pulled the turkey out to see how it was doing:

I'm a little concerned about the wing,'s the wing.  The color looks good, eh? Oh but remember, that's the bottom. I have to flip it. With the help of a clean dish towel and a big spoon (using the handle end), I had no difficulty transferring Big Bird to another pan; then I took out the rack, because it didn't sit properly on it. I also took this moment to drain off some of the broth and fat from the pan -- liquid gold!

Here's the bird back in the oven to continue cooking; the temperature is now 125, and we want it around 160. I left the oven setting unchanged, as we have almost 5 more hours to go.

Update, 11:27 am...

Just a bit ago, I finished some other work. I cooked some sausage (two pounds of Bob Evans, half regular, half Italian style), while the innards and wing tips simmer away in the background:

Then I melted butter, sauteed the onions, then added celery and shallots. I didn't get a photo of it, but after this, I separated these vegetables into two batches (because my skillet wasn't big enough), and then heated some turkey stock (from the store) to a boil, then combined that mixture in baking dishes with the sausage and some cornbread and cubed white bread dressing mix, also from the store. Those two dishes of stuffing dressing are now covered in foil, in the fridge so they can be heated up later. 

I might here mention that I have some travel complications; dinner isn't at the house the other priest and I share, but at the undercroft of one of the churches, so I have to transport the turkey, dressing and gravy there. I have plans, which mainly involve driving very carefully. But I give some consideration to a suitable container for the gravy, and that led me to discover an exotic cooking device which I have never used in my life:

Now I wait for the turkey to finish...

Update 11:51 am...

The thermometer registered 145, my early warning system for the turkey. So I turned down the oven (I wanted not to hit 145 for another 90 minutes), and took out the turkey and basted it. I took it out of the pan, removed the veggies, and poured off the juices. What shall I do with these vegetables?

This broth will be used for one more basting right before I take it out, then added to the stock bubbling on the back burner, to make gravy:

Meanwhile, the thermometer has hit 151, and I'd like it to stay there because I don't trust it; that's close enough. The oven itself is set on 150, so any increase at this point is residual heat. 

Update, 1:39 pm...

OK, getting close, so I put the dressing in the bottom of the oven, with the turkey overhead. The temperature has backed off with basting, so I cranked up the oven to 450 degrees to finish it off. I put the root vegetables back in the pan, in case anyone wants them.

Meanwhile, it's time to make the gravy. I skimmed off the turkey fat from the drippings, and heated it up, adding three tablespoons of flour, to make a roux:

After cooking that for a bit, I added in all the turkey stock I'd prepared -- with chopped up giblets -- as well as the pan drippings. After heating and mixing that, it went into the mysterious device I found, which I set to low:

Around 2:15 pm, I'm going to load all this in my car and take it to an undisclosed location (one of our campuses) where some of the family will be congregating around 3 pm. If things work out, I'll post a pick of the turkey.

Update 2:18 pm...

Here's one of the two pans of dressing; I'm afraid one of them got a little scorched.

And here's the star of our show, just out of the oven:

And here are these items packed up in the car, (the crock-pot of gravy is in the front), and I'll depart shortly:


The turkey turned out very well! The gravy was delicious! Alas, something went wrong with the mashed potatoes -- i.e., no one brought any! But the gravy was still tasty on the turkey and dressing.

The dressing, alas, got a little toasty, but next year, we'll see. Everyone brought different things: my brother and his wife brought a very nice broccoli casserole -- which had difficulties in the oven, at St. Mary, that I didn't know how to make bend to my will, but it eventually emerged -- and my sister brought a traditional green bean casserole; my other brother brought a great variety of drinks, and I think I put a major dent in the wine. My sister also brought pumpkin pie and *real* whipped cream. I made coffee, but it was one of those...machines...and my brother said I made it too strong, was tossed out. Pfff! We also managed to have really nice snacks and all that...

But the really important thing was getting together. I'm sorry three of our siblings couldn't be there, and our nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews could not be present, but that's how it works. Maybe next year it will be better.

1 comment:

rcg said...

Looks delicious! The turkey is nice and brown. Crockpots get overlooked so often. And they are so cheap! I also used a metal grate to support the turkey this year so it was out of the drippings. I also use bacon instead of oil on the skin. I give the bird 30 mins at 500 degrees then 350 @ 10 min/LBS. I aim for 161 internal at the breast then pull it out to rest, carve, and serve.