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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In preparation for Thanksgiving, America’s biggest home-cooking day, I’ll be addressing a few of the most common issues and frequently asked questions about the basics: roasting turkey and making gravy. Friday, I’ll be introducing an innovate and  in my opinion the best possible way to roast a whole turkey (it involves a dual method and resulted last year in Donna’s saying, “This is the best roasted turkey we’ve ever had.”) But first things first: make turkey stock now so that you have it on hand to make gravy. I don’t know where we got the idea that a roasting turkey results enough juices to make gravy. It doesn’t. And you certainly want to have way too much gravy on Thanksgiving so that you have leftovers. My favorite day-after meal is hot turkey sandwiches, smothered in Read On »

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If you’re making Thanksgiving dinner next Thursday and want delicious turkey gravy, make a small batch of easy turkey stock this weekend.  If you have delicious stock on hand, gravy is just a little roux away.  We’ll have ten at the table this year and I’m making a batch of stock this weekend from the above legs and wings. It’s simple: Roast them till they’re good enough to eat, then try to eat as little as possible before you put them in a pot and bring the water to a simmer.  As soon as it’s at a simmer, put the pot in a 200 degree oven for 8 hours or so (the longer the better—because of some timing issues mine went 16, so I added a little more water).  Then, add sliced onion, chopped carrot, Read On »

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