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Turkey Three Ways–A Critique


ross
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Thanksgiving is around the corner, and I think I have a plan.

I was keen on cooking the turkey sous vide, but have been vetoed by my a family member- "you can't feed grandma that bacteria-laden turkey! it never got hot!"

I've tried to explain the process, and the safety, but I conceided. I'm cooking for a bunch of traditionalists, so I'm trying to keep it interesting, yet familiar and not too out of the box.

I think I may have a more interesting plan now anyway.

It goes like this-

Break down the bird (from my CSA with Allandale Farm in Boston, MA, removing the breast skin in-tact

break down the carcass, pan-roast it, and make stock.

Make a tenderloin by stacking the breasts and glueing with Activa RM, and wrapping with the skin.

two questions on this front:

How long can the rolled "tenderloin" sit before cooking- can I roll it out 24 hours before showtime?

Is there a decent way to add some flavor between the breasts- chopped sage/thyme, etc. or will this negatively affect the process? Will it cook OK?

Braise the dark meat, following this Daniel Boulud recipe (ish.)

Confit the wings. I currently have a test batch curing overnight, rubbed with a ton of salt, thyme, bay leaf, clove, tellicherry peppercorns, garlic, and some juniper. Picked up 7.5# tub of Hudson Valley Foie Gras duckfat for the cook.

In addition, I'm going to do some truffled mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup with some smoked duck breast, and some veg- brussel sprouts, and something to keep the kids happy. Also pondering family-style (really partner-style) mac and cheese in some very small le crusets, following the Hattie's recipe.

Is it worth brining the bird?

I'm looking for reactions to this plan, and any improvements possible, or a good old-fashioned critique.

Thoughts?

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I'm of the opinion that it's ALWAYS worth brining the bird. Turkey just doesn't have a whole lot of flavor on it's own. But I've been brining forever, and am probably biased in the extreme on this point.

Why not just make a turducken? Then you can also participate in the "kitchen achievements that aren't worth the effort" thread?

Turducken is great. It's fantastic. Far out. The bee's knees. But even if it was orgasmic, it's not worth the effort.

EDIT -- This year, everyone is leaving for vacations. So it's just my wife and I. We're skipping the turkey entirely. Duck and goose this year. We're running low on duck fat and goose fat. And I'm going to place one last order from Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras before they are legislated out of existence.

Somehow, I'm going to make a foie yorkshire pudding. That's my mission this year.

Edited by ScoopKW (log)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Yes, brine.

Many years ago I did something like this (but not as elaborate) with a non-brined cut-up bird for my very traditionalist extended family. I used a similar recipe from Bon Appétit or similar mag, braising both the legs and the breast. The wings went into the stock pot, as back then I probably didn't even know what confit was. Several older relatives greeted it with some skepticism and a bit of disappointment (people love to see a whole roasted turkey in all its mahogany splendor), but were quickly won over once they started eating.

I don't glue my food, so I can't comment on the "tenderloin." However, what would you think about not gluing them but instead perhaps doing a simple pan roast? That way you could put a compound butter under the skin to add flavor.

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Your plan certainly sounds great and I would be more than glad to sample any of your mistakes! That being said I wonder if grandma is going to be impressed by this presentation or like Alex said she will only be happy if she sees a beautifully colored whole Turkey carcass sitting on the table being carved? I know that's what my grandmothers expect and they won't be happy with anything else! I've tried smoking and frying with them and they weren't even happy with that.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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Brining depends on the bird. Kosher turkeys and 'butterball' type ones have already been brined and more would just make them salty.

Not true -- the brine can have a little less salt than the amount in solution in the bird, and be both effective and actually decrease the salt content a little. Osmosis is a beautiful thing. The bird and the brine will try to reach equilibrium. With that salt transfer, some of the added brine flavorings transfer as well. It's not like a turkey is some kind of salt sponge.

All this goes out the window if doing an injection marinade, though. Don't shoot more salt into an already-salty bird. For the rare times I find myself with a Butterball-type turkey, I'll shoot it with unsalted garlic thyme paprika butter. Probably the best thing one can do for one of those birds, short of not getting one in the first place. (I'm not at all OK with industrial turkey farming.)

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Not true -- the brine can have a little less salt than the amount in solution in the bird, and be both effective and actually decrease the salt content a little. Osmosis is a beautiful thing. The bird and the brine will try to reach equilibrium. With that salt transfer, some of the added brine flavorings transfer as well. It's not like a turkey is some kind of salt sponge.

I think you're right on the equilibrium, but you'd get involved in a guessing game concerning the amount of salt that's already in the bird. A pre-brined bird is likely the result of a decent amount of thought and testing. A weak brine could pull flavors out of the bird. A stronger brine risks an equilibrium point that is too salty. In theory, you are correct, but in practice I'd start with a known quantity (an unbrined bird). Or just trust the corporate briners.

If I had Activa, I'd be sorely tempted to remove the skin whole, break down the turkey and debone it, then then try to artfully put it back together to get a boneless whole turkey. Ideally, it would look traditional when brought to the table, but then you could slice it in half right through the backbone area revealing a stuffing.

But a similar idea that I've actually done, is to remove all the meat and cut it into strips. Brine these and then lay them out on plastic wrap so you end up with a 'sheet' of turkey. Then apply some stuffing and roll it up.

It didn't require Activa, but Activa could only give you a bunch more options. Mine was done sous vide, but it could be ideal for roasting since you can arrange it so that the dark meat (that can handle more heat) is on the outside while the white meat is protected within.

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Brining depends on the bird. Kosher turkeys and 'butterball' type ones have already been brined and more would just make them salty.

Not true -- the brine can have a little less salt than the amount in solution in the bird, and be both effective and actually decrease the salt content a little. Osmosis is a beautiful thing. The bird and the brine will try to reach equilibrium. With that salt transfer, some of the added brine flavorings transfer as well. It's not like a turkey is some kind of salt sponge.

All this goes out the window if doing an injection marinade, though. Don't shoot more salt into an already-salty bird. For the rare times I find myself with a Butterball-type turkey, I'll shoot it with unsalted garlic thyme paprika butter. Probably the best thing one can do for one of those birds, short of not getting one in the first place. (I'm not at all OK with industrial turkey farming.)

I would not call it a brine if you put the turkey in a solution that pulls salt OUT of the bird. Sounds like an attempt at a marinade to me.

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Yes, brine.

We have a surplus of duck fat and intend to get extra turkey thighs and confit them along with the thighs and legs of the whole bird we buy. We'll roast the rest. I wouldn't waste good duck fat on a couple of wings.

Turduckhen is a worthwhile one-time novelty. Since watching Pepin's YouTube on deboning and stuffing poultry I've been heavily into it. I'm sure I could make my own turduckhen and get kudos for years to come, but they're just not that great for all the effort and expense.

Edited by Mano (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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