Brine it, baste it, behold it: My Favorite Turkey-Part 2

Okay, so if you’ve brined your Turkey, you are so ready for Part 2.  If you choose not to brine, you can still follow this portion of the recipe.

The morning of Thanksgiving, remove your turkey from the brine, pat it dry with paper towels and let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours. My Mother, the public health nut, always panics when the turkey is sitting out and I have to restrict her access to the kitchen; but trust me, the 2 hours is okay. The turkey skin dries a little, the turkey warms up and it all plays into the fabulous end result.

With “drying”, cooking and post cooking standing time, you will need to allow 6 1/2 hours to get your bird ready to eat.

Brined Turkey
2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of white wine, I typically use a pinot grigio
Stuffing–if you stuff your bird OR if you prefer stuffing separate, one onion, halved
Large piece or two of cheesecloth

1. After your bird warms for 2 hours, preheat your oven to 425F.
2. Stir together melted butter and wine in a large bowl. Fold cheesecloth so that it is big enough to cover most of your turkey. Immerse the cheese cloth in butter mixture and soak it for a few minutes.
3. Place the turkey, breast side up on rack set in a roasting pan. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff with your stuffing OR onion. Tie the legs together with twine. Fold neck flap under and then rub the turkey with softened butter. Season the outside with salt and pepper.
4. Remove cheesecloth from butter mixture and wring out. Lay cheesecloth over turkey. Reserve butter mixture.
5. Place turkey, legs first in oven. Roast 30 minutes and baste the cheesecloth with reserved wine and butter mixture. Reduce temperature to 350F
6. Roast and brushing every 30 minutes for another 2 1/2 hours.
7. Remove cheesecloth and baste with pan juices until a temperature reads 180F, about an hour.
8. Transfer to a plate or cutting board. Let turkey stand at least 30 minutes before carving.


Brine it, baste it, behold it: My Favorite Turkey-Part 1

Behold it!

This my favorite roast Turkey recipe. It has its roots in Martha Stewart (who I think should adopt me) and in my own brand of cooking alchemy.  This year will be my sixth year roasting this juicy, golden yummy piece of Thanksgiving heaven.

The brine has simple ingredients. The turkey is basted in butter and wine as it roasts–it is picture perfect and tastes beautifully as well.

Plan on ordering a fresh turkey from a local farm in early November. Or picking up your frozen turkey from the grocery store a few weeks before Thanksgiving. Pickings can be slim in the days right before the big day. A good rule of thumb is to provide 1 1/2 -2 pounds of turkey per person. If your turkey is frozen, start defrosting it early and allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey.

Some things you need before you dive in–a brining bag or a super large stock pot that your turkey plus brine can fit in; space in your fridge for stock pot; cheese cloth; a roasting pan with a raised rack;  a silicon oven safe brush and a meat thermometer.

Brine it

Brine it!

Brining results in moist, flavorful meat. It works, apparently, through reverse osmosis and diffusion. I could pretend to fully understand this (this is why Nana needed Granddad and my Uncle Allan–for these techie issues), but I just know it works and the meat is tender, juicy and yummy. Cooks Illustrated has a fabulous explanation; just don’t get caught up in the fears of non-crispy skin–we will get to that later.

You will make the brine on Wednesday morning, let it cool, and then put the turkey in the brine and refrigerate until Thanksgiving morning.

Here’s what you need:

  • Your turkey–I usually get a 15-18 pounder. This recipe will work for more or less weight.; remove the giblets, save if you are into that and keep the tag from the turkey that lists the weight
  • 3 cups coarse salt
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 2 medium onions, skins on, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, leaves on, coarsely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Couple sprigs fresh thyme
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
Grab your enormous stock pot and put all ingredients (EXCEPT FOR THE TURKEY) in with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat, let the brine cool completely. 
Grab your bird and place the turkey breast first into the stock pot (or toss the whole caboodle in a brining bag) with the brine and cover (use the lid or plastic wrap). Place everything in the fridge for up to 24 hours. 

Techniques: Homemade Ravioli 101

Making homemade ravioli can be super fast and super impressive using store bought won ton wrappers. These handy little packages of dough squares are inexpensive.
Here are step by step instructions on filling your own, homemade ravioli.
1. Grab your won ton wrappers, a couple cookie sheets, a small bowl of water, parchment paper and the filling of your choice.
2. Line each cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. Lay out won ton wrappers in a single, non-overlapping (no touching!).
3. Then add a scoop of your filling–typically about 1 tablespoon-2 tablespoons a wrapper. Place the filling right in the center of the wrapper.
4. Moisten a finger tip with a small amount of water. Draw a line on water on the outside edge of each won ton wrapper. Just do a couple at a time (you don’t want the water to dry out before you top it!
5. Then place another won ton wrapper on top, smoothing the edges right up to the filling. Try to gently smooth out any air. Moisten your finger tip again and trace along the outside of the top won ton, to seal. Continue until all raviolis are filled and sealed.
6. Place cookie sheet of completed raviolis in freezer for at least 30 minutes–the longer the better. When raviolis are frozen, you can remove from cookie sheet to cook in boiling water (3-4 minutes until floating and remove with slotted spoon) OR freeze on cookie sheet overnight and then place in freezer bags for a future meal.

Staple recipe: Roasted winter squash puree

As I mentioned in my Coconut Lemongrass soup recipe, Mike and Lily grew a successful crop of Galeux d’Eysines–a beautiful, bumpy heirloom winter squash that looks like a warty pumpkin and tastes like a slice of squash heaven.

We love squash in our house–mashed,roasted,pureed or in a pumpkin pie–we will eat it! Part of our addiction is purely superficial–squash is gorgeous. It comes in greens, oranges, creamy white, yellow and in smooth,bumpy and ridged textures. I love the shape of butternut squash–it reminds me of a bell and of course, I adore the stringy insides of spaghetti squash–nature’s low-carb answer to pasta. Sweet sugar pumpkins are adorable in their perfectly rounded symmetry.

When I was doing a little research for this blog post, it occurred to me that I had no idea if squash was a fruit or a vegetable or something entirely different like a legume. Botanically speaking, squash is a fruit. In cooking, squash is used as a vegetable and it is a fantastic substitute for meat.

Lily helped with every part of this recipe–she helped plant, water, nuture and then reveled in the end result–a warty, orange beauty that would be transformed into delicious recipes for our family. I had Lily help me make the puree and taught her a little French along the way. Galeux d’Eysines translates to mean “Warts from Eysines (a town in France),” a detail Lily found endlessly fascinating. Lily now has a little French in her tool kit (as every fancy girl should) and I have the sweetest memory of my little girl Bonjouring, Oh La Laing and cooking with me. When we eat something prepared with this puree, we eat a little of Lily’s first French lesson–I can’t think of anything more delicious.

Try this staple recipe with any winter squash you like and then use the puree to make fabulous things like squash soup, pies, squash ravioli or squash souffles–stay tuned to Nana’s Fabulous Life for oodles of great recipes.

Buy locally–it is a way to be sustainable and help your local farmer continue to bring you beautiful, nutritious produce for years to come.

To make and freeze the puree you will need:
2 or more pounds of your favorite winter squash; olive oil; some brown sugar; parchment paper; baking sheets; a food processor or blender; quart sized-freezer bags

The work:
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Select your squash, cut in half and remove the seeds and cut squash into chunks about a couple inches in size.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place squash, flesh side up on the paper. Drizzle with olive oil and then rub a small amount of brown sugar into the flesh of the squash.

3. Turn the squash face down and place in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until skin is easily pierced with a fork.

4. When squash is cool enough to handle, use a soup to scrape it into your food processor. Puree in batches until smooth.

5. Pour in 1 cup increments (I eyeball it out) into freezer bags. Label, date and freeze flat. Use in your favorite recipes (and soon to be faves!).