Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving - The Turkey

This Thanksgiving we made two turkeys. We usually have one 16-lb beast from the Amish market, but this year's bird, at a mere 13 lbs, seemed a little skimpy to my brother-in-law. He took it upon himself to buy a second, larger, supermarket bird and broke this news to us on Wednesday evening.

So what to do with two birds? Cook them both! There can never be enough leftovers.

Even though we were having Thanksgiving dinner at my brother-in-law's, I took over the Cooking of the Birds. Why? Because he had never cooked a turkey before and well, I'm bossy like that. Plus I'd been eating weird dried-out turkey (cooked in an oven bag or an electric roaster) for about 7 out of 8 years now and *needed* to do it, for my own sanity. I wanted to follow Alton Brown's recipe, sans the brining because we didn't have time for it. But now that we had two turkeys, I thought it would be the perfect time to experiment with....spatchcocking.

Notice my Iron Chef t-shirt.
Here I am wrestling with the backbone. The blades on my shears are too small, and the knife wasn't cutting it (ha!), so Mr Minx ripped it out the rest of the way with brute force. He also got the job of breaking the breastbone so the bird could lie (mostly) flat.

Here it is in its herb-buttered, spread-eagled glory. It doesn't look all that flat, but it was.

And here it is, GBD (golden brown and delicious). The 13-lb bird took approximately 1.5 hours to cook at 350F. The breast was juicy and moist, but the dark meat was slightly underdone. Another 15 minutes would have probably done the trick. No matter - we weren't going to eat this bird anytime soon. And time was a-wastin' - we still had another turkey to cook!

The second turkey was cooked more conventionally and was done in 2.5 hours. Miraculously, when I took the bird's temperature, the breast was at 160F and the legs at 181F. That seems impossible, but there you have it - perfectly cooked all the way through. And the meat was moist and juicy, even the white meat, because this supermarket critter was of the salt-injected variety, hence it was brined. It had far more flavor than the Amish market bird which had been rubbed with the same herbed butter mixture (parsley, sage, rosemary - no thyme because the supermarkets were out and I didn't grow any this year).

What a beauty! Mr Minx isn't so bad, himself. ;)

And here's our Thanksgiving feast in all its glory. Looks paltry, but the table was huge. And we dispensed with the frou frou "tablescapes" because they just get in the way.

The Pattersons (apart from me) like to festoon their turkey with mini snausages for the last 20 minutes or so of cooking time, hence the toothpicked wieners around the edge of the plate.

I normally eat mostly sides and the barest scrap of dark meat, but the turkey was so good, I had second helpings of white meat. And I'm thrilled that for once we have several pounds of leftover turkey in the fridge. Turkey sandwiches, turkey pot pie, turkey soup - here we come!


Beth said...

I am very jealous of all that leftover turkey! We went to a family member's home for the meal and sadly no leftovers were offered. I've been trying to make my friends cough up leftovers all weekend, but they're just not giving them up!

David Dust said...

I too am jealous of all your leftovers - I didn't get ONE damn turkey sandwich!! :(

BTW - I absolutely love the idea of the snausages with the turkey. I might have to suggest that next year.