Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Last of the Turkey

Since we didn't celebrate Thanksgiving until Saturday, November 28, our leftovers lasted until a few days ago. . . turkey sandwiches, lunch after lunch, but fortunately the boys love turkey sandwiches. We had an 11.73 kilo bird and when my eleven-year-old daughter saw it she remarked, "it's as big as me, mommy!" 


What I hadn't known, but which my bible, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, confirms, is that a bigger bird takes less time to cook than a smaller one. If the turkey weighs sixteen pounds or less, it needs fifteen minutes per pound in the oven at 325ºF or 165ºC. If the bird's over sixteen pounds, and ours was closer to twenty-four, it needs twelve minutes per pound.  I was wondering if some physicist might tell me why that is so. Could it have been the bacon covering my turkey, the greater amount therefore of hot fat? I had a brand-new cooking thermometer that I found at our local TK Maxx.
I can't compete with Robert Benchley's wonderful recipe, which you may read about here--for one thing, I'd never be able to drink that much while preparing a turkey, although I do believe a cook should be "well-oiled." Makes you spontaneous. A little wine, but gee, Mr. Benchley, your capacity was amazing. And now for my recipe, which is considerably easier:

Rinse the bird in cold water. Pat dry. Then, depending upon your mood, do one of the following:

(1) Cover the bird with strips of bacon. You can stretch them a bit, and for a turkey over twelve pounds you'll definitely need more than one pack of bacon. Maybe two or three. Hardly any of the turkey skin should show--all should be covered in lovely bacon.  
(2) Gently--using a small knife if necessary--work your hand under the skin, creating a large pocket. Fill this pocket with thin slices of butter. Lots of them. Pat down. Rub more butter on the legs and any other part of the skin that has somehow failed to come into contact with it.

Then, salt and pepper the bird. Here's the stuffing I make: Let two bags of a very ordinary supermarket bread--Pepperidge Farm white bread, or even Wonderbread, if it still exists, dry slightly in an oven set on low heat. Load the slices into your food processor and make breadcrumbs. While the bread is being processed, melt a large amount of butter--at least two sticks (Germans, at least 250 grams) into a pot or pan. Wash and chop fine many stalks of celery. Add at least one onion, chopped fine. Let the celery and onion get soft in the heating butter, but don't turn the heat so high that the butter burns. You can't turn away from the pan for a nanosecond. Add breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and combine all, mixing until it smells and tastes good.

If there's anything left over after you've stuffed the turkey, and there should be, put the leftovers in a separate baking dish. You'll bake it when it is almost time to take out the turkey. Now, the bird should be accompanied by the usual--see below: corn muffins (the dry, Fannie Farmer kind), cranberry sauce (an orange, some cranberries, some fresh ginger, a half cup of sugar, a dash of cinnamon go in your food processor) and the vegetables and gravy of your choice. Pies follow . . .  but here's the main course:


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