Tag Archives: roast

Thanksgiving for Two


The measure of my success on Thanksgiving Day is how many times I have to call my mom (if she’s not physically with me). This year was one of the maybe two or three times I’ve cooked Thanksgiving away from home and away from that maternal safety net, where fears of undercooked birds and dried-out dressings are calmed.

This year, I only called her three or four times. Which is a success! That is between my first-ever attempt at making Parker House Rolls (recipe to come), gravy issues and an organic turkey that came out of its 8-hour brine a strange purple-blueish color:

Have you ever noticed color differences with organic turkeys?

I switched from Whole Foods to Costco this year and probably saved $5-$10 on an 11-pound organic bird. My Costco didn’t let me down! Mom helped me figure out that the strange not-yellow/white/pink bird was probably closer to what a real turkey should look like before it’s pumped full of hormones and processed. I would highly recommend Costco as I’ll be getting my birds there indefinitely!

I took a chance on a new turkey recipe this year, since it was just Grant and me and we didn’t have kids/other people to impress. Bon Appetit had an article about neo-traditionalist turkeys, basted with a soy/mirin butter sauce. The cover photo was so beautiful that I just had to try it and thank goodness I did – this may be my go-to turkey recipe from now on.

The turkey comes out such a deep golden amber – almost mahogany – and the well-seasoned meat and drippings make for some excellent gravy!

A few turkey rules that I always follow, before we get to the recipe:

  1. Smaller is better – once you get above 16 lbs they are impossible to cook evenly (according to many reputable sources, including my taste buds).
  2. Brine – I just did 2 c. salt dissolved into 2 gallons of water – brined for 8 hours (Cook’s Illustrated warns not to do it more than 4 hours due to over-salting).
  3. Dry overnight – Once out of the brine, I pat the turkey dry, put it in its roasting pan and into the fridge overnight – this dries out the skin so it roasts nice and crispy.

Adapted from Bon Appetit…I probably should have made and blogged about this weeks ago, like all the professional bloggers. But I am a humble at-home cook with no time or patience for doing Thanksgiving early or – gulp – twice!

The Neo-Traditionalist Roast Turkey

Ingredients:

  • 1 10-14-pound turkey, giblets and neck removed, brined and fridge-dried overnight, then left at room temp for 1 hour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (I used regular – oops!)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 3 sprigs rosemary

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Set a rack inside a large roasting pan. Pour 4 cups water into pan (note: I used chicken broth!). Tuck tips of wings under bird. If turkey is not brined, rub bird inside and out with 3 T kosher salt. Season inside and out with pepper and place on rack in pan. Place onion and celery in cavity. Rub 3 tablespoons butter over turkey. Roast turkey, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, stir remaining 3 tablespoons butter, soy sauce, and mirin  in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth. Add rosemary. Cover; keep glaze warm over lowest heat (not simmering).
  • Reduce oven to 325°. Baste turkey with pan juices; add more water or stock if needed to maintain at least 1/4-inch liquid in pan (I probably used 6 c. of stock total). Roast for 30 minutes; baste with pan juices. Brush lightly with glaze.
  • Continue roasting turkey, basting with pan juices and brushing with glaze every 30 minutes, and tenting with foil if turning too dark, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh without touching bone registers 165° (juices should run clear when thermometer is removed), about 2 3/4 hours total. (Note: I couldn’t get mine above 155 degrees, after 3 1/2 hours, so I took it out and it was fine. The juices were running clear).

Let stand at room temperature under foil tent at least 30 min, or until ready to carve.

Meanwhile, I heated up/finished all my sides, made a quick gravy and dressed up the turkey for its head shot. I usually just throw whatever herbs I have left over onto the plate. But if I were home, I would have been fancy with some berries or something.

Proof that my eyes are bigger than my stomach…I ate half of this:

Hope you all had safe and successful Turkey Days – I probably have two more days’ worth of leftovers to go – not bad.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

The Perfect Roast Chicken

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The chicken you see above cost a little over $2. Not $2 per pound, not $2 per serving. Two dollars flat. It was about 4 pounds and was on sale at the local grocery store – I noticed all these old ladies leaving with a dozen birds, so I knew a good deal was on.

The beauty of roast chicken is that it does triple-duty. We had leftovers for two full meals and then boiled the leftover bones or whatever to make a delicious stock. Our leftovers are becoming tortilla chicken soup tomorrow.

Back to the roast chicken.

You can really do anything with this recipe, but I’ll include my adaptations to the original Ina Garten recipe.

Ingredients

1 whole roasting chicken, giblets and extra fat removed and stored for later (boil them in your chicken stock).

kosher salt

pepper

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 lemon, halved

1 head garlic, cut crosswise, or whatever you have on hand.

2 T butter, melted

1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced

4 carrots, cut into chunks

1 bulb fennel, cut into chunks

1-2 pounds of red or new potatoes, cut into chunks

olive oil

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Method:

Preheat oven to 425.

Rinse the chicken inside and out, pat dry. Remove any pin feathers. On the inside, liberally salt and pepper, then stuff with half the fresh thyme, all the lemon and garlic.

In a roasting pan (or large baking dish), combine the onions, carrot, fennel and potatoes (you could also add garlic – live dangerously!). Toss with salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil (you could add other herbs if you have them, and I used dried thyme). Spread the veggies in an even layer.

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Now, tie the chicken’s legs together with twine and tucks its wings under its body. Brush it all over with the butter and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I also added paprika, for color and because my mom did. Use your gut instinct! Place the bird on top of the vegetables.

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Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the thigh and the leg (mine was perfect after this time). Tent foil over the chicken for another 20 min. Remove the chicken to a platter and serve with the roasted vegetables and fennel fronds, for decoration.

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You’ll notice that some of the veggies got nearly black. They are delicious! In fact, I kept all the “burned” pieces for myself – they were so caramelized that they stuck to my teeth with sweet, savory goodness.

To serve, plate up the chicken and vegetables and spoon over extra juices from the roasting pan. We had this with bread and a simple salad – ta da!

What a satisfying meal.  As I hope you can see from the pictures, it is a feast for the eyes and the belly. One chicken feeds four people easily.

Now, if you don’t mind, I have to check on my chicken stock. Enjoy, friends! xoxo