Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Roasted Turkey & "Gravy"

I had grand plans to follow Alton Brown's guide for the perfect turkey this year. Printed in Gourmet a few years back, it's written exactly as he talks, like it's a transcript or something. The big problem is you realize just how little information there is and how difficult it is to tease out any of it when you need it. Oh, and I think he's really annoying on television, anyway, so reading this article excruciating for me*.

An example of the lack of information? There's absolutely no place where he gives an estimate of how long the cooking time would be. While I appreciate going by temperature only, not telling that info really makes planning meal time difficult.

Fine. I had the intent to brine it until I realized how much of the solution I'd have to make to put the bird in the cooler (many gallons). Screw it. It didn't seem to help last time anyway. Oh, and he doesn't actually have a recipe for the brine. You have to pick it out of the verbiage and it's still missing the point that you have to boil and cool the solution before you soak the bird.

So, I basically used the Roasted Chicken method on this larger bird. I grabbed a fresh 20 pounder at Jewel, so I didn't have to worry about thawing. I would have preferred a more natural bird from Whole Foods. But I happened to spot the chosen victim while on a regular shopping trip and saw that I could save myself an easily 3 hour ordeal.

They were out of sage at Jewel, so I mixed a holiday rub I picked up at Whole Foods into 1.5 sticks of butter. This was rubbed over and under the skin. I also threw a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme, 2 small quartered onions a several smashed cloves of garlic into the cavity and then trussed it up (with twine - the legs were too big for the skin trick).

The only time crunch I faced was getting things out of the oven in time to put in the turkey. Then I remembered my trick from a few years ago - the grill. For the second time, stress just melted away.

The hardest part was regulating the temperature with the grill flame. I did use the Brown trick for browning the turkey:
  • Start the turkey @ 500F and roast for 30 minutes.
  • At that point, cover the breast with a foil shield and reduce the temp to 350F until done.
Easy enough. I found that High on my grill stays at an even 500F and you have to drop all the way down to Low to maintain 350F. This is, of course, dependent on the outside temp, which was about 35F that day. I didn't baste as I didn't want to lose heat.

I was surprised at how fast this cooked. We hit 165F within about 2.5 hours, when I expected about 4. It came out just right, though, so I think I finally got the thermometer right (granted, the thigh on the turkey is a much bigger target). Though it was ready a good few hours before dinner, it held a lot of its heat. I carved in the kitchen and added a touch of heat from the microwave before serving.

There was a downside to the amount of butter, though. I had nothing, I mean nothing, to make gravy with. Just a ton of cooked butter. Yuck. So, at the last minute, I whipped together a wicked veloute sauce. You have no idea how cool it is to be able to say that. It was flawless on the first try.

* Strangely, though, I really like his cookbooks. They have a lot of the science of cooking explained well. But on TV, I find him, well, patronizing, I guess.

No comments: