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HomeArchiveThe Perfect Bird: A Foolproof Turkey Recipe

The Perfect Bird: A Foolproof Turkey Recipe

THANKSGIVING is one of my all-time favorite holidays.You get to eat way too much, and the next day iseven better because of turkey sandwiches, which arethe whole point in having a turkey anyway.I was searching for new ideas on roasting turkeyand found this one. With the cheesecloth soaked in wineand butter as a covering for the turkey, it looks foolproofand is a great way to ensure a nicely browned, juicy bird.Frozen turkeys are available at many locations thistime of year (see separate story). For 12 people, a 20-pound turkey will do nicely. Take it out of the freezer onTuesday and put it in the fridge. Remove from the fridgeWednesday night.Ingredients:1 20-pound turkey, giblets and neck removed fromcavity and reserved1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature1 bottle dry white wine2 tsp. salt2 tsp. freshly ground black pepperStuffing (see recipe below)1 cup dry red or white wine for gravy (optional)Giblet stock (see recipe below)CheeseclothToothpicksInstructions: Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Place rack on lowest level in oven. Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, four-layer square.Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine; let soak. Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan.Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. Salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they can hold comfortably; do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish 45 minutes at 375°F.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter and sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey; it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue to cook for 2-1/2 more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices; if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.After the third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices.If there are not enough juices, continue to use the butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.After the fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into bone. The temperature should reach 180°F (stuffing should be between 140-160°F) and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20-30 minutes.When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let sit for about 30 minutes.Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat.Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more.You will have about 2-1/2 cups of gravy. If it’s too thin, blend 2-3 tbsp. flour with a little cold water in a bowl to make a thin, smooth paste. Add the blended flour mixture to the broth, which should be heating. Stir constantly to prevent lumping. Add salt, pepper and tarragon to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat, and serve with turkey.StuffingIngredients:3/4 cup unsalted butter4 onions, chopped16 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice10 large, fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 2 tsp.crushed dried sage4-1/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned2 loaves stale white bread, about 36 slices, cruston, cut into 1-inch cubes2 tsp. salt1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper3 cups flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped, about2 bunchesInstructions: Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onions and celery and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add sage, stir to combine, and cook 3-4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock and stir well. Cook about 5 minutes, until liquid reduces by half. Transfer onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients, including the remaining stock. Mix to combine.(Alternative to homemade: Buy prepared stuffing and spice it up with chopped parsley, onions and celery.)Giblet StockCook giblets in homemade or canned chicken stock. Cool, then cut giblets and neck meat in small pieces and put back in broth. Add to juice in turkey pan.Thicken to desired thickness; if you need more gravy, add canned chicken broth.


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