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Rethinking the prep of a whole turkey


heidih
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My assignment from the parents is to use the turkey they have had in the freezer since Christmas for Easter. It is 10 t 12 pounds and a generic supermarket turkey. I could just roast it but thought that I would entertain some thoughts on a more interesting prep. There are only four of us at the meal. I will whisk the carcass away for stock.

I was thinking of perhaps spatchcocking it, rubbing with a paste and cooking in the oven or off to the side of the heat of the Weber, or a combo approach.

I am open to any and all thoughts.

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You could do that, but a 5-6 kilogram bird between four people? Why not roast/BBQ the breasts on the crown (maybe rubbed down with whatever rub or marinade you like) and retain the drumsticks and thighs for, I don't know, a pie or some kind of braise the next day?

Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Chris Taylor

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The only suggestion I have is to Brine it. We do that with the 59 cent per pound holiday turkeys sold at Xmas and Thanksgiving, that we freeze and use later in the year. I don't buy Butterballs any more. When cooking, I personally suggest separating the white meat from the dark meat and cook accordingly, but that is just me. I no longer cook turkeys whole, though brining provides a wider window of forgiveness as to doneness.

alanjesq

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I agree with brining and roasting. You'll end up with too much meat, but you can send some away (or leave) with the parents. The whole roasted bird has a visual effect they'll be expecting.

Or you could cut all the meat into strips, brine it, and lay the strips on a length of plastic wrap. Cover that with cheese, spinach, etc., and roll it up and sous vide it.

But I must say that for leftover turkey sandwiches, I prefer unadulterated dry roasted turkey. It gives the mayo something to do.

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A turkey mole for a change of pace? I've cooked the recipe for Mole Coloradito from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet. This is a simplified mole compared to some traditional mole recipes. I cooked the recipe with chicken, but I'm sure turkey would be good too. I thought the dish tasted fantastic.

You can make the chile paste ahead of time.

My notes say: "Grind the cinnamon stick before adding it to the blender!!!" :shock:

Adapted recipe for Mole Coloradito here: http://forums.finecooking.com/cookstalk/cooking-discussion/chocolate-and-bittersweet

Years ago I clipped a recipe for spicy Haitian-style turkey from the NY Times. I'm sorry to say, I've never tried it. But this topic motivated me to unearth the recipe, and it still sounds good. Here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/16/dining/161hrex.html

I like the idea of splitting up the turkey into parts for different uses. If you separate out the breasts, you can brine-cure then poach the meat for sandwiches. When I have leftover cooked turkey, I chop it up, add in some chopped ham, and combine it with parsley, scallions, and a lemon-tahini dressing. Then I stuff the turkey-ham mixture into pita bread halves with feta cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and chopped kalamata olives. That burdensome leftover Thanksgiving turkey disappears pretty fast this way.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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The parents do not care for breast so I could carve those out and just deal with the legs, wings and thighs - reserving the back for the future stock. They do like to chew on bones.

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definitely brine it over night, it makes a huge difference, might even make them like the breasts, as they'll be juicy. I'd slow cook it in the bbq with some smoke, maybe layer some bacon on top as well. Or oven roast. The benefit is that you don't have to do much while it cooks, more time to have a good time instead of slaving away in the kitchen. I'm not a big turkey fan at all, but if I have to eat it, I prefer a nice golden roasted bird, carved up so everybody can take what ever meat they want. You can glaze it sweet or spicy or Asian (soy sauce and honey etc), though I like just s&p best.

I've never done nor eaten it, but deep fried is supposed to be quite tasty as well.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Well it is crunch time. I am writing the menu and doing the shopping list. Hampered in my forays out by a pup that can not be left alone so she has to come along.

If it was a fresh turkey, in which case the discussion would be entirely different, I would cut out at least one side of the breast. Since it will be frozen and defrosted I feel like I need to cook it all at once. Not a good plan to refreeze and I do not want two different preps going on.

I am leaning to spatchcocking it and removing the back. Even though the parents do not like breast I can freeze it for future salads once cooked. I am thinking of shoving bacon and salami under the skin, and rubbing both the skin side and cavity side with a food processed mix of onion, garlic, fresh oregano, fresh rosemary, Dijon, orange zest, S & P. I would give the bird a good rub down with orange halves off the tree getting some oils on there as well. I would then cook it in the Weber kettle with the coals off to the side. I wonder how to time that? Maybe 3 hours? They like their wings on the crunchy side. I think that paste will still allow crispness to happen.

What do you think?

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I am a big fan of grilling turkey. I will either completely bone it out except for wing and legs and marinade it overnight. I will grill it directly over a medium heat basting occasionally with leftover marinade. I live by myself and if I want to use a smaller portions without messing around with deboning I will just split it half put a rub on it and grill the half. This take a little bit longer to cook though.

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If you want to put something under the skin maybe go for a herb butter.

The parents are hyper about added fats like butter, and then completely illogically are cool with bacon and sausage. If they even suspected the butter it would be a drama. That is why I was going in that direction - I usually do that on the whole bird.

My back door riff on the herb butter was to do the herb rub on the exterior and cavity side - forgot to note that it would include enough olive oil to blend and carry flavors.

My thinking was to get a bit of double whammy - the herbs on both sides as well as the smokiness under the skin.

Catering to opinionated old folks is a tightrope

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This take a little bit longer to cook though.

So when you grill on the medium heat how long with what portion size are you getting good results?. They want crispy crunchy wings, and the meat itself on the legs and thighs should be quite tender and well done.

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It is all based on the size of the turkey. I did this last fall with a completely boned out bird and its starting weight before boning was about 16lbs. I think that it took around 45 mins. The last bird I split in half was about 12lbs and I want to say the half took right around an hour for it to be cooked the way I wanted it to be. With either way all of the meat is cooked tender and the wings and skin do end up getting nice and crispy. I find flipping the bird more, helps to even out the cooking. I also will keep the center of the grill a little hotter and the outside cooler and will start to point the breast side of the split bird to the outside to prevent it from overcooking.

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