Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Simply, Marvelous Turkey, Modified

Over at the NY Times food blog, Mark Bitten has an unbelievably wonderful recipe for cooking turkey. Not your usual way at all, he browns the thighs and breast separately, and then roasts them in a medley of vegetables, which keeps the skin crisp while cooking the breast and thighs perfectly. A bonus is the dish of roasted vegetables on the side.

Yesterday, I went to make turkey for our main meal (heading into the holidays, I like to practice before subjecting my victims guests to my new ideas) and decided to use Mark's recipe. Problem was, I only had 90 minutes, not the 3 hours he called for. Undeterred by this, I went ahead, making some changes on the fly, and ended up with an even better version, for us, at any rate. We got 3 cups of unbelievable gravy and made stuffing to boot! So here's my version (all ingredients remain the same from the original, but I bought a boneless breast and unwrapped it, rather than boning it myself. I did bone out the thighs.):

Simple Turkey and Gravy, adapted from Mark Bitten

Turn the oven to 425°. 

Soak the dried mushrooms in 1/2 cup hot water, or just enough to cover. Coarsely chop 1/2 pound each carrots and celery, and one medium yellow or white onion. Microwave the carrots for 3 minutes in a little water to get them started. Add them to the onion and celery, with the cooking water. Sauté these in 1 T olive oil. 

Meanwhile, in another pan, sauté the pancetta until it starts to give off some fat, then add the sausage and cook until both are well browned (breaking up the sausage if you used bulk). When the meat is browned, add to the vegetables and continue to cook until they are soft and beginning to brown. Chop and sauté the fresh mushrooms in the sausage fat, then add to the vegetable mix. When the dried mushrooms are soft, drain them, reserving the liquid, mince them and add to the mix.

Brown the turkey in the pan you used for the sausage, adding the remaining 1 T olive oil. Brown the thighs first, and reserve them, and then the breast. When the breast is browned on all sides, turn off the heat to the pan and leave the breast there, covered, until needed.

Now, in a roasting pan, spread the vegetables evenly, and place the thighs in the corners on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Strain the mushroom water over the vegetables, adding enough hot water to the pan to bring the level up to 1/2 way up the side of the thighs (I used about 3 cups) and cover the pan with foil. Cook for 30 minutes, then uncover and add the breast to the center. (Don't wash the pan!) Raise the oven temp to 500°, and return the turkey to the oven, roasting until the meat is cooked through and the skin is dark brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Remove the turkey to a serving plate and cover loosely with foil. Pour the vegetables and their water through a colander set over a bowl to catch the liquid. Reserve the vegetables. Degrease the liquid and make gravy with most of it (in the same pan you used for browning the meat), saving a little to moisten the stuffing if you're going to have it, and adding water as necessary to thin the gravy.  Then, either put the vegetables into a serving bowl if you are going to serve them as is or mix them with a bag of stuffing mix. Moisten with the remaining juice and serve!

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