Talking SCHOP! Thanksgiving: This Bird or that bird

Kysha Harris, Food Editor|@SCHOPgirl | 11/13/2015, 2:56 p.m.
Don’t let this mild weather fool you. Time is still passing and we have arrived, yet again, to the holiday ...
Turkey Kysha Harris photo

Don’t let this mild weather fool you. Time is still passing and we have arrived, yet again, to the holiday season. I would be remiss if I didn’t offer the AmNewsFOOD reader a requested and approved turkey recipe. It is a juicy, tender and beautiful bird for your table.

Give yourself three days lead time to brine, season and cook your bird. This recipe is for an 18 to 20 pound bird (giblets removed). Adjust as needed.

For the brine:

7 quarts (28 cups) water

1½ cups coarse salt

6 bay leaves

3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds

1 bottle dry white wine

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 bunch fresh rosemary

Take care that the turkey is submerged in the brine and refrigerated for 24 hours.

Remove the bird from the brine and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. You have two options: (1) If time permits, season the bird (See instructions below. You can use your own seasonings.), cover and refrigerate for another 24 hours before proceeding to next step. (2) If time is limited, remove the bird from the brine and proceed to next steps.

Let the bird come to room temperature at least 2 hours before seasoning (if you chose Option 2) and cooking. Fold wing tips under the turkey and place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan and let stand.

For seasoning and basting:

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

3 sticks unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons softened

1 bottle dry white wine

Place the rack on lowest level in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°.

Combine sticks of butter and wine in a saucepan and warm until melted. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters, that is, four layers, 18-inches square. Immerse in the mixture and let soak.

Liberally season the birdʼs cavity with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. (SCHOP! Tip: an unstuffed/herbs-stuffed—rosemary, thyme, sage—turkey decreases cooking time). Tie the legs together loosely with kitchen string. Fold the neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub the turkey with softened butter and liberally season with salt and pepper.

Spread soaked cheesecloth evenly over the breast, about halfway down the sides of the turkey. Place turkey legs first in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue to cook for 2½ more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices. If the pan gets too full, spoon out the juices, reserving them for gravy.

After the third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard the cheesecloth. Turn the roasting pan so the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste the turkey with pan juices. If not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. Baste fragile skin carefully! Cook 1 hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After the fourth hour, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without poking the bone. Temperature should reach 180°, 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 the turkey, return it to the oven and cook another 20 to 30 minutes.

Transfer the turkey to a platter, reserving the pan juices. Let the turkey stand 30 minutes before carving.

SCHOP! Tip: To prevent stringy sliced breast meat, after letting the turkey rest, cut the entire breasts off the bone, and then slice each breast against the grain. Slices will be moist and each will have some of that decadent skin.

This recipe from Chef George Mendes of restaurant Lupulo (@LupuloNYC), is a Portuguese-style turkey using unusual spices and beer might make you choose “that” bird instead!

Brine

6 quarts (24 cups) water

6 cups sugar

4 cups kosher salt

12 cloves

8 pieces star anise

6 bay leaves, torn in half

3 cinnamon sticks

3 tablespoons white peppercorns

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

Marinade

3 cups olive oil

1½ cups lager

3 tablespoons Spanish sweet paprika

½ yellow onion, thinly sliced

7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 fresh bay leaves, torn

Turkey

One 10-to-12 pound turkey, giblets removed and neck reserved

2 red onions, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces

2 bay leaves, torn

1 tablespoon kosher salt

¼ cup marinade, plus more for basting

In a large pot, combine the brine ingredients and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and salt have dissolved, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and chill, uncovered, in the fridge until cool, about 1 hour.

Rinse the turkey and neck, and place inside a 5-gallon container. Pour the chilled brine over the turkey and top with a heavy plate, submerging the turkey. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

In a medium bowl, combine the paprika marinade ingredients.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cold water. Discard the brine. Rinse out the 5-gallon container and return the turkey to it. Pour the paprika marinade over the turkey, rubbing all over the outside and the inner cavity. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 hours.

Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven, and preheat it to 400°.

Cut off the turkey’s wing tips, reserving them, and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Combine the turkey neck, wing tips, red onions, carrots and bay leaves in a large roasting pan. Place the turkey on top, breast-side up, and rub with the salt and ¼ cup of the marinade.

Roast the turkey in the preheated oven until the skin is browned, 40 to 50 minutes, basting the bird and rotating the pan halfway through roasting, covering any dark spots with aluminum foil.

Lower the oven temperature to 300°. Baste the turkey with marinade and pour 1 cup of water into the pan, creating steam to help cook the turkey. Continue to roast the turkey, rotating the pan and basting every 30 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches just under 160°, 1½ to 2 hours. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest in the roasting pan for 30 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan drippings and roasted vegetables.

Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.