Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving cooking

It's the day before Thanksgiving, and I'm ready for some serious cooking. I like to slow roast the turkey; I think it comes out much juicier and more tender (falling of the bone). As usual, we went to the supermarket, bought $25 worth of groceries to get the discounted price on the turkey, and then asked for the biggest they had: 24 pounds. At 300° F, this bird would take six to eight hours or so to cook. Instead, I want to cook it overnight at about 190° F: the desired internal temperature when it's done (to ensure all bacteria are killed). The rule of thumb I have from Let's Cook It Right is three hours at reduced temperate for each hour it would have cooked at the higher, conventional temperature. So, assuming I'll roast the turkey for an hour at the start and two hours at the end at high temperature, and using eight hours as the cooking time, I get a total cook time of 18 hours. I'll start it around 10PM tonight. What fun!

If you're going to the trouble of cooking turkey for Thanksgiving, you simply must make your own gravy. There's simply no comparison between home-made gravy and store bought; it's worth the trouble. Here's a recipe modified somewhat from the November 2002 issue of Sunset:

Giblets, neck, and liver from turkey
2 onions, peeled and quarters
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 cup celery
approx. 2 quarts broth
1/2 cup corn or potato starch
Salt and pepper to taste

Chill liver to add later. Put giblets, neck, onion, carrots, celery, and 1 cup water in 6 qt. pot. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover and stir over high heat until liquid evaporates and contents are browned and begin to stick (15-20 minutes).

Add 1 qt. broth and pepper; stir to free brown bits. cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until gizzard is tender (1 to 1.5 hours). Add liver; cook 10 minutes longer.

Strain mixture into a bowl. Remove the meat from the neck and chop the meat, giblets, and liver. Discard the bones and vegetables. Measure stock and add broth to make 1 quart. Combine everything into unwashed pot.

When turkey is done, remove rack and bird; skim fat from drippings. Add 2 cups broth to roasting pan and stir over low heat, scraping brown bits free. Strain mixture into pot with stock and bring to a boil.

In small bowl, blend starch and 1/2 cup water. Add to stock and mix until boiling, 3-5 minutes.

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