Sunday, November 22, 2009

American Thanksgiving and Receptionista Montreal's Birthday Turkey

So on the basis of my Thanksgiving turkey from earlier this fall, I have been commissioned to roast one for my friend Receptionista Montréal, whose birthday roughly coincides with American thanksgiving(her family are from L'etats Unis). She has been having big feasts for years, with sometimes upwards of a hundred people. This year is relatively small at 40 persons.

I bought two fresh birds from Boucherie Notre-Dame. I ordered them Wednesday and it was fresh from the butcher's cold room this morning.This is more expensive, but eliminates the need to thaw. I delivered one to Receptionista and the other to my fridge. I will be interested in comparing the two, as she is much more experienced at this than I am.

Stuffing: 425 grams of plain bread crumbs, a small onion, a few cloves of garlic, 1 and 1/2 chorizo sausage, cranberries, savoury, nutmeg, cup of vermouth and 2 cups of water and the zest of a lemon.
Cook sausages and set aside. Saute chopped onion until translucent, add garlic, nutmeg and savoury. Add vermouth and water and bring to a low boil. Remove from heat, add lemon and breadcrumbs. Transfer to a non-reactive(glass or ceramic) bowl. Let everything chill in fridge over night( putting hot stuffing directly in the bird will promote food poisoning). Mix in sausage and cranberries and stuff bird.

Gravy: I sauted the giblets and neck in olive oil and lots of garlic. I added savoury to the pan, then a little black pepper and fleur de sel (sea salt). I then added a cup of red wine and a cup of cold water and boiled it slowly to a reduction. I combined this reduction with pan drippings to make the gravy.

Start: 11:40- 67C/375 F- Bird goes in, loosely tented with foil, in a commercial foil tin supported on a cookie sheet. At 20lbs, the bird is too big for my big roasting pan.

First basting check: 12:40pm(T+60mins) Looking good, but not much in the way of fluids yet. I bast the bird with olive oil, return the tented foil and pack the bird back inside the oven. I lowered the temperature to 325F. A quick synthesis of internet sites indicates 375 is too hot. I lower the temperature to 67C/325F.

Second basting check:13:18 (T+1:39) lots of fluids, so I bast with them. There is a debate as to the need or efficacy of basting. Next time, I may start the bird tented, then cover in pot, to retain juices without basting, then open and bast for the last 45 mins to get the nice dark golden finish.

Third basting:13:50(T+2:12) More fluid, and the odour of roasting bird is present. I try to get fluids into the stuffing, to add to flavour and to get a hot center, cooking the bird well from the inside, as well as adding to juiciness.

Fourth Basting:14:17(T+2:39) added some Fleur de Sel and black pepper. I am afraid the bird may be roasting too fast. My original estimate called for 6.7 hours at 20 mins per pound. However, other charts indicate a 4 1/2 hour time. I might lower the temperature if this seems likely. If i finish at 17:00, I can let the bird rest in the car while I head over to the venue Receptionista rented.

Fifth Basting:14:48(T+3:10) A quick review of the National Turkey Federation website suggests it will take 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours to cook a 20 to 24 pound stuffed turkey. So estimate 5 hours, plus 30 minutes rest in covered pan. I lowered the temperature to a hair above 300F. The bird can rest in the car on the way to its destiny.

Sixth Basting: 15:20(T+3:41) Still juicy, and I have photos to document this phase of the cooking.

Seventh Basting: 15:47(T+ 4:08H) Bird progressing nicely. It smells like a roast turkey- I hope it will be done at 17:15- ready to be served at 18:00.

Eight Basting:16:18(T+4:39) Continuing at 300F. I debated adding some brown sugar to the pan drippings, to aid in caramelising the exterior of the bird. It is browning-up nicely, however, so I'll leave it as-is.

Ninth Basting: 16:41 (T+ 5:02) Juices from the meatiest part of the leg are running clear- this bird is a go! I popped it in for one more cycle whilst I reduce some of the juices I extracted from the pan, combined with the giblet/red wine concoction I did earlier. I'll add a little thickener, then pack kid and turkey into the car and over to Il Motore.

Last post: 17:00 (T+ 5:21 ) I started the gravy, intending to add the remaining pan drippings so as not to waste them, or invite spillage on the trip over.

In the photo: Just out of the oven...

It was cooked just right- the thighs were just cooked, the breast juicy and tender. The exterior was a golden brown. Receptionista fielded a lot of compliments because it was assumed she did both birds. I am a little proud my turkey compared favourably to her wonderful turkey.

And Lake of Stew showed up and played, lured to the party by Bob, Receptionista's beloved hubby.


Del said...

So this is the famous bird... you know your description of the basting are really similar to a battlefield report... Looking at the photos it seems that you won the fight.

adamvs said...

Hey Del,

Merry Christmas!
I still use this recipe- reliable, time-tested.


"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster