Monday, March 28, 2011

Turkey, turkey, turkey...

A few weeks ago turkeys were on sale at my local grocery store and for some reason, I bought one. Even though I tried to buy the smallest one available, I still ended with a big ol' bird for one little family! So, here is my three days of turkey, just in case you are a sucker for a sale like me.

Turkey Brine:
6 Cups water
1 Cup sea salt
1/4 Cup brown sugar
Small handful of peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 lemon

Bring water to a boil in large stockpot and add remaining ingredients.  Cook a few minutes until salt and sugar has absorbed.  Cool completely with ice or very cold water.  Drop turkey in (you can use an ice chest if turkey is very large), and brine for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Rinse brined turkey and pat dry.

For turkey:
Preheat oven to 350
In a small bowl, mix 3-4 T butter, a few minced cloves of garlic, pepper, herbs de provence, and additional fresh minced rosemary and parsley (use the Italian kind).  Gently tug up skin around bird and tuck smears of butter under skin (yes, it's messy...get over it).  Rub remaining butter mix and extra pepper over bird.  Shove some aromatics up the bird's cavity (I like to say a little apology first).  I typically use a cinnamon stick, 1/2 an apple, and 1/2 an onion but you can also use lemon, fresh thyme, bay leaves, anything that will add yummy flavor and aroma.  Roast turkey at 350 for 30 minutes, then knock back temp to 325 and roast an additional 3-4 hours for a small bird (8-10 pounds). Take out of oven, check for doneness, and let rest 30 minutes before carving. 
I served this with good old Stovetop Stuffing and a green salad.
Turkey sandwiches!  Done!!!
Turkey Noodle Soup:
Drop what's left of the bird back into stock pot and cover with water.  Bring to low simmer and cook several hours with more bay, peppercorns, herbs, lemon, and sea salt.  If you have time, cool completely as this makes skimming fat easier.  Strain stock back into pot.  Pick remaining meat off of turkey and add to stock (also messy and something I swore I would never do...sigh).  Add your choice of veggies.  Carrots, celery, and onion would be traditional but I don't dig the celery.  I like carrot, sliced mushrooms, green onions, and a bit more garlic, all sauteed for extra color and flavor.  Add to soup and simmer with extra herbs de provence, pepper, and a rind of parm. cheese if you've got one.  Cook for about an hour, then add 1/2 bag of egg noodles and cook until noodles are desired tenderness. 
Yes, it's a process, but most of it is just occasionally babysitting something on the stove or in the oven.  And, you've got at least three days of food.  Granted, you might never want to see a turkey again, but it's tasty while you've got it! 

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