Monday, January 08, 2007

Building a turkey; one leg at a time

Thanksgiving was celebrated at relatives so didn't get to snack on leftover turkey. Christmas, well that was prime rib and we are still waiting on the pix, lil birdy. New Year's Eve, nope no turkey there. Where is my turkey?

I had to search three local markets for find a fresh one and all they had were 1/2 breasts and legs. Well, darling husband had a turkey-jones so I snapped it up. I was more in the mood for dressing.

Since poultry loves the brine I started adding stuff. Salt, of course, into ample water and some almost-too-old citrus. Waste not; want not. I was close to pouring in some flat rootbeer, go with it--it needed sugar to make the skin brown--passed on that idea and tossed in some honey. Old Bay Seasonings will never let you down. Not Old Spice, that is a totally different product. Into the fridge overnight. Goodnight dear bird.

The dressing: New Year's Eve I served hunks French bread to dip in Italian Butter (olive oil, garlic and course ground black pepper) so that leftover bread on a cookie sheet with some drizzled olive oil, dressing friendly herbs and bit of salt. Baked until it was nice and crisp short of burned. Cooled then into a plastic bag and beat it into smaller pieces with the end of a champagne bottle. A very fine multi-tasker that Alton Brown has failed to mention.

Chopped celery, onions in butter, (I know I promised to diet, soon, Dr, very soon) and then poured that over the cooled bread. I added some chicken broth and tasted to adjusted the seasonings now because I'm going to add raw eggs. My mom always tasted after the eggs but I can't get by the raw egg. Don't be afraid of the seasoning because with the roasting they will mellow out. Add a bit more sage and such than you think and no broth; add milk.

The eggs, this is where my mom's dressing is different from most. The eggs give it the cohesiveness it needs and also a lovely soft rich texture. How many? One in you stuff a chicken and two for a bigger bird. Remember, eggs are fat, the more you use the richer it will be. Also more calories.

I was out of wild rice so skipped it. Now my sister, doodles reminded me not to be adding a bunch of other stuff and she was right. At times, mom added oysters or water chestnuts and maybe pecans but she didn't add anything else. She was a plain basic cook and I go back to her methods more often than not.

No whole bird to stuff so I piled the dressing on a cookie sheet and put the half breast on top and laid the legs beside. I wrapped it all in foil and high heat for about 20 minutes until it sizzled then down to 325 until almost done. Off with the foil and remove the drippings and back into a 350 oven to brown up the skin. Let it rest of a few minutes and make a bit of gravy with the drippings. I know, diet but I only made enough to drizzle over the turkey and dressing.

It was so satisfying but it doesn't cook long enough to get the whole house smelling like Thanksgiving. I do like the flavor of a big bird because it roasts for a long time but for the two of us; I didn't think we needed a ton of leftovers. Next Thanksgiving, I'm doing the bird!


Non-Cas Fan/ Steve-Dave said...

Actually, in his first book "I'm Just Here For The Food", he uses a wine or champagne bottle to store used fry oil.

doodles said...

count on me to be there for that ocassion.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected I believe steve-dave is/are right but I don't think he's ever used it as a "pounder". It is also good to flatten out veal/chicken/pork for scallopini. By the way, what is "non-cas fan"?

doodles, you are first on the guest list.

La Vida Dulce said...

Turkey mole, turkey tamales, turkey enchiladas, the posibilidades are infinte. Pass that bottle over here and pour me a glass!

wheresmymind said...

Man..I so need to roast a whole bird one of these days :)

non-cas fan/ steve-dave said...

Yep. I'm thinking it would make a huckuva pounder...

(The "non-cas fan" is from a mistaken identity on a forum. I used it in jest, but got stuck with it. And, for the record, I was "Steve-Dave" before Kevin Smith made his first movie.)

Anyway, it may be somewhat risky to use a bottle as a pounder.

A fire extinguisher, on the other hand, may turn out to not be the "unitasker" Alton always defines it as. LOL

Steve-Dave said...

I just saw the other day that Alton was using an empty wine bottle to roll something flat... I think it was the "gut-grenades" he was using it on.

Still, I think my fire extinguisher could perform that function, too. ;-)