Dry-Brined and Grilled Turkey

Final Grilled_Turkey_PicSince we still have Christmas and New Years, there is still time to make this incredibly great turkey. It’s an easy method, easiest I’ve used anyway, and we were delighted with a super moist perfectly done bird.

So plan just a bit ahead and this beauty can be yours.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 turkey (ours was nearly 12 lbs which is about the best size)
  • 4-6 tbsp of kosher salt
  • olive oil
  • bunch of varied fresh herbs such as parsley, sage, oregano, rosemary, thyme

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Start with a fresh turkey if possible, otherwise thaw completely 3-4 days before cooking day. Remove giblets and use in whatever manner you normally do.
  2. Slide your fingers and hand under the breast skin from both sides until you have loosened it all, and then push down around the thighs and legs loosening it as well.
  3. Take about 1 tablespoon of salt in hand and reach into the right breast and work the salt around. Then do the left side, and then using a bit less for each leg and thigh area. Put about a tablespoon in the cavity. Then salt the entire outside using a tablespoon or two.
  4. Once done, place in a cooking bag of turkey size, secure the opening well, and place in the. You want to “brine” this for 3 days. Each day, turn it over, from breast to back. (You can use 2 days or even one if you must be it is best if you can do this for the entire three days)
  5. At the end of the third day (evening before the cooking), remove from the bag, dry as much as you can and place on a regular roasting rack over a baking dish. Doesn’t matter which side is up. Place in the fridge again, uncovered and leave until about an hour or so before you are going to start grilling. The drying process will make the skin nice and crispy.
  6. Remove from fridge an hour or so before grilling. Pour olive oil over the back and using your hands, massage the entire back of bird, making sure it’s nicely oiled. Turn over and do the same to the breast and legs. Tuck the wings under the bird with breast up.
  7. Fill the cavity with fresh herbs. You can also add onions if you wish.
  8. Heat up the grill.
  9. If using charcoal, line the sides of the grill leaving a big space in which you would place an aluminum roasting pan. You will put the bird over the pan with the charcoal piled on either side. Cover with the grill. Grill, turning the breast down about half way until temperature registers 165° in the thickest part of the leg.
  10. If using a gas grill (which we did), heat up the right and left jets but leave the middle one off. This is where you would place the turkey. Place turkey in the middle, and close the top. Continue on high for an hour. Turn the bird, go another hour. Ours was done in 2 hours perfectly.
  11. Remove from heat, tented with aluminum foil and leave for at least 30 minutes, or until you are ready to eat. It’s easier to carve when it’s cooled.

SERVES: 10

NOTES: I vastly prefer the gas grill since you don’t have to worry about the mess of trying to add briquets and the temperature remains even throughout the cooking time. Also when you are done, you can shut the grill down, and just leave the bird in for its resting time.

SOURCE: Adapted from about 4 recipes and my own preferences.

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Holy Trinity Jambalaya Stew

Oh, yeah, give me some Cajun.

This is one of those recipes that you can find everywhere, some more authentic than others. This makes no real attempt to be so, but goodness we loved it to death.

And because I don’t cook the rice IN the dish, you can make huge batches of this and freeze up meals for those wintry days when you are tired from fighting the elements and want a great meal in minutes.

Of course you can substitute other seafood for the shrimp, or add crawfish or fish if you wish. All should be added late in the game and just cooked. Sticking them in too early will result in rubbery tasteless crustaceans.

The same is true of the sausage. I buy cooked sausage and love the taste, so I don’t let it sit and cook out it’s flavor. Do as you wish about this. 

Okra is up to you. I like it. Some don’t.

Filé gumbo powder is not to be added during cooking, but only at the end. I use it as a table condiment and let folks sprinkle it on if they like it.

So get busy, and go Cajun!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 chicken thighs (or other chicken parts to equal about 2 – 4 c cooked)
  • 5 tbsp canola oil, divided 2 and 3
  • 1 1/2 lg sweet peppers (I used 1/2 of a red, green, and yellow)
  • 1 med. onion, diced
  • 3-4 ribs of celery diced
  • 1 c of diced okra (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust depending on whether you use salted tomatoes and stock)
  • 2 tsp each black and cayenne pepper (again, adjust given what you want in heat)
  • 3 cloves garlic, microplaned
  • 2 15 oz cans of stewed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups (at least) chicken stock
  • 1 lb andouille sausage cut into chunks (or other sausage you like)
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, cleaned
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped
  • filé gumbo powder
  • 2 c dry rice (for 4 cups cooked)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil and add the thighs, browning well and turning to brown the other side. Remove to a separate plate.
  2. Add the trinity: onions, bell peppers and celery, reducing heat to medium and sauteing until fairly softened.
  3. Add the seasonings, garlic and tomatoes, and bay leaves. Return the chicken to the pot, and cook on a simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken is done.
  4. Remove the chicken pieces to cool.
  5. Make the roux: 3 tbsp canola oil and flour in a small pan. Cook while stirring often until it is a medium brown. Set aside.
  6. You can cover the pot and let it all sit now until near dinner time. I typically cook what I can in the morning, and stop here.
  7. When you are getting ready to eat, turn on the burner and begin reheating the jambalaya. Add your sausage now.
  8. Remove the meat from the chicken bones, discard the skin, chop the meat or shred. Return it to the pot now too.
  9. When its bubbling, add the roux in chunks and stir to thicken. When it’s all incorporated, then add the shrimp on top and cover for 5 minutes.
  10. Serve! Over rice, with the chopped scallions and filé powder on the side

Serves: 6 easily

Duck, Duck, Goose, Roast It!

Oh Duck is just a wonderful bird to roast. And so is Goose. Both are so much richer in flavor than turkey or chicken. But they do require rather different methods of roasting.

Trust me, they do.

You see, both are highly fat. In fact when you get your bird, you will find big clumps of fat at the neck. Remove this. Go ahead and brine it as I explained here. Do that for the 12 hours, and then lay it uncovered in a pan in the fridge for another 12 hours to dry out.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 duck or goose. Ducks are typically about 5 pounds so you may want more than one. Geese tend to run between 8-13 pounds.
  • 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 ribs or celery roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh herbs in a combination of parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage.
  • 1-2 c of chicken stock
  • 1/4 c molasses or honey or a combination
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  Prepare your bird for the oven. Prick it all over with a sharp fork being careful to not penetrate into the flesh if you can avoid it.
  2. Now there are two ways to proceed. I prefer the former but it’s your choice.
  3. Place the bird in an empty roasting pan in a v-rack. Tent with foil. (trust me on this one)
  4. Place in a preheated 500° for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Remove the bird, and pour off the fat. (You can save this like bacon grease if you desire)
  5. Return the bird to the roasting pan, and place the veggies around and enough chicken stock to cover the bottom. PLace the fresh herbs in the neck. Reduce the oven to 300°. Roast breast side down for 15 minutes, and turn a quarter turn, baste, and roast for 15 more. Do these until you have turned it fully and an hour has gone by.
  6. Continue to roast, and baste occasionally until the thigh reaches 165°. Remove, cover loosely and let rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Times are hard to judge. the finally roasting after all the turning might take 1 1/2 hours. Follow your instant thermometer, and check every 20 minutes or so.
  8. The other method is simply to set the temp at 275°, turn every 30 minutes and baste as above. It doesn’t do the quick hard heat to bleed out the fat. I don’t care for this method because I want to get rid of the fat so I can use the aromatic veggies.

**Note: I never put dressing in either ducks or geese. They are just too fatty, and the dressing gets too greasy. But then I don’t like dressing in the bird anyway.

 

Succulent Roast Turkey

A roasted turkey can be sublime.

If you do it right.

I’ve done turkey every way I think. Smoking is great, but a long process and you need equipment. Traditional stuffed turkey is okay, but horribly dry. Brining a turkey makes it utterly moist (even the white meat) and rethinking the methodology of roasting will make it even more evenly cooked and crispy and juicy.

So pay attention.

First brine as directed here. Then drain, and leave uncovered in the fridge for 12 hours to dry out. (This is what makes the skin crispy.

When you are ready to roast the bird, follow the directions below.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 10-12 lb turkey, brined and dried
  • a bunch of fresh herbs (including thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley)
  • 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 ribs of celery, chunked up
  • chicken broth
  • 1/4 c butter or olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Let the turkey sit out for a while to let it come to room temperature.
  2. Tuck in the wings and tie up the legs.
  3. Place the herbs in the cavity. (Dressing in the bird is hard to work. The raw bird contaminates the dressing and if not done correctly can be dangerous. Besides, it sucks up the moisture. So do the dressing in a pan.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 400°.
  5. Rub the turkey with softened butter or melted, or the olive oil. All over.
  6. Place the turkey in a roasting v-rack, BREAST DOWN and into the roasting pan. Surround with the veggies, and add broth to a depth of about 1/4 inch. You may need to add more later.
  7. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven.
  8. Give the bird a quarter turn so that wing is up. Baste with juices from the pan, and return to oven for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove again, quarter turn to breast up, baste, and return for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove again, quarter turn to other wing, baste and return for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove again, quarter turn to breast side down, baste and return until internal temp at thigh is 175°, approximately 30-45 minutes more. (larger birds will take longer obviously)
  12. When done, remove from pan to serving area. Tent foil over it, and let sit for 30 minutes. DON’T FAIL TO DO THIS. (Can be kept for a good hour). Carve and serve.

Note: This method works fine for chicken as well. Ducks and Geese require a slightly different method. I’ll get to that soon.