I love how every year the major food media come up with some new way to do the same old thing. This year The New York Times tells you to steam your turkey! Not that there’s anything wrong with the story or the technique (by the Jacques Pépin, after all). My view is why mess with what works? For important occasions, the rule is: go with what works. And of all my years roasting a turkey, I’ve found that the braise/roast method works best, as I wrote last year. The reason is that this method solves the two great Turkey Conundrums: 1) how to have both juicy breast meat and tender dark meat, and 2) how to serve it all hot to a lot of people. Answer: the roast/braise method. Year before last, I was Read On »

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  It’s Thursday as I write this, a week before Thanksgiving. This year we’re driving to the Hudson Valley to celebrate with Donna’s big and growing family—something like 21 adults, a few teenagers, and a few youngsters. Donna volunteered me for the gravy because, well, let’s face it, gravy is a no-brainer and will travel well. (Recipes for stock and Friday Cocktail below.) A no-brainer if you make excellent turkey stock now! I’ll be doubling or tripling the below recipe this year. Today, I’ll be roasting drumsticks, wings, and necks. (I read on Wednesday in the Times that the venerable Jacques Pépin picks the meat off the neck of the turkey and adds it to the gravy. I might try that this year.) Roasting them will give your stock a nice flavor. All that golden brown Read On »

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  Michael is taking a break from the blog for 10 days. He remains, he says, “very grateful to the readers and especially to the commenters who have offered so much great thought, information, skepticism, and humor.” He hopes to be back a week from Wednesday, provided he does not lose his way, and until then is reposting some of the posts other readers have found useful. — Emilia  Spatchcocked Turkey Originally posted July 1, 2011 My daughter was born 16 years ago, June 4th, a Sunday. Two weeks later was Father’s Day. Having never been a father on Father’s Day, I took it easy. I’d finished the manuscript of my first book but hadn’t heard from my editor (I forget nothing, Bill!); I had no prospects and we were near broke. I grilled a turkey. Read On »

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  The two great turkey conundrums: 1) how to have juicy breast meat and tender dark meat and 2) how to serve it all hot to a lot of people. Answer: the roast/braise method. Last year, chatting with my neighbor, the excellent chef Doug Katz (Fire Food and Drink), described how he cooks the turkey in stock up to the drumstick so that the legs braise while the breast and skin cook in dry heat. Last year I tried it and it works brilliantly. Thank you, Doug. Doug posted his version on the restaurant’s blog. I’ve simplified and added a couple steps to make it easier for perfect doneness. (Step-by-step pix below.) The basic idea is this: cook the turkey half submerged in flavorful liquid and lots of aromatic vegetables. When the breast is barely Read On »

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People freak out about gravy. I don’t know why. Gravy is easy as pie. Actually, a hell of a lot easier than pie. All it is, is a delicious, rich stock thickened with flour. In cooking school, they call it velouté, French for velvety. You take a great stock and give it a velvety texture. Flour-thickened sauces got a bad name when bad “French” restaurants served heavy terrible sauces. Properly prepared, flour-thickened sauces are light, flavorful, and refreshing. I prefer them to heavy reductions which, prepared thoughtlessly, are gluey with protein and make the tongue stick to the palate. The key is dispersing the flour uniformly through the sauce. We do this by combining the fat (butter, rendered chicken or turkey fat) so that the granules of flour are each coated with fat to prevent Read On »

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