Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Turkey

I know that the idea of making a turkey gluten, casein free seems simple. Well, it isn't. First of all, you need to check the turkey you choose for fillers, which may contain gluten. There are only certain companies that make their turkeys gluten free. Often, it's a better plan to go with a fresh, unfrozen turkey since most turkeys that are frozen have additives.

So, if you must choose a frozen turkey... I would go with Honeysuckle. Butterball frozen, unfortunately, contains a "secret" basting that contains all the "no-nos" for this diet.

However, most companies carry a fresh variety that contain no additives, so I say safe bet is on the fresh turkey. Besides, who doesn't prefer fresh?

So, I have many variations on my turkey to keep my children on their toes. I hate doing the sage and butter turkey year after year, it's boring. So, here is a list of seasonings that go well together and make for a flavorful turkey;

Lemon and Rosemary:
4-Fresh Lemons
3-Fresh Rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup of clarified butter (ghee)
1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Cut the lemons in half. Pour the juices over the top of the turkey. stuff the turkey with the lemons. Take one sprig of rosemary, chop the leaves and add to the ghee. Add the garlic to the rosemary ghee mixture. Mix well. Take the remaining sprigs of rosemary and stuff them into the cavity of the bird.

Cover the top of the turkey with the ghee, rosemary and garlic mixture.

Sage, Celery, and Onion.
This is the classic bird.
4 sprigs of sage
5-stalks of celery
1-yellow onion
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup of ghee butter

cut 5 leaves of sage and add to the ghee. add salt and pepper and add to ghee. Cover tops of bird with ghee sage mixture and stuff pats of mixture under the skin of the breast.
Cut the stalks of celery and onion into 1/4 slices. Stuff the bird with remaining sage sprigs, celery and onions.

Herbs to Provence Turkey.
This is the easiest one and the one I will do this year.
1/4 cup of ghee
1/4 tsp of garlic, minced
2 tsps of herb de provence
3 tblsp of olive oil
1/4 cup of orange juice (natural, no added sugar)

Again, mix the ghee with the herb de provence, and the garlic. cover turkey generously. sprinkle with orange juice, sprinkle with olive oil.

Now, about cooking the bird, this is the area that most people "mess up".  No offense to you, or you. I have done this myself. Allow me to illustrate my very first turkey....

I was living in Japan and I had the oven the size of a shoe box. It was a small oven. Stupidly, I purchased a 24 pound turkey to make for all my military buddies.

The first problem, is that the turkey had to be squeezed in so that all the meat literally touched every surface of the inside of my oven. The second problem, was that I had no idea how to really cook a turkey...

So, I started cooking the turkey at 1pm, and everyone was coming over at 4pm. There is no way to cook a turkey, especially in a shoebox, in that amount of time.

Needless to say, I turned the oven up to 500 degrees, yes, I did. Well, we all eventually ate, but the turkey was black on the outside and stone cold pink in the middle. To this day, I wonder how many people got sick...

Well, that is an extreme case of what can go wrong... I know. :)

The main issues people have with cooking a turkey are this, that the outside is not crispy and golden brown, and that the inside is either dry, or it is gummy.

So, here is a classic way to cook the turkey and get that perfect bird...

First, make a "tent" for the breast, before you put it in the oven. take foil and make a triangle over the breast. Now, take it off, you will need this later.

Turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Put the bird in the oven, middle is best but lower is fine if you don't have room. Cook the bird for 35 mins at this temperature. This will give the bird that lovely browning.

Now, take the bird out and put the "tent" on the breast. This will keep it from being very dry.
Turn your oven to 325 degrees. Cook at this temp for 20 minutes per pound. So, for a 20 pound bird, you are baking for 5 hours.  for a 12 pound bird, 3-3 1/2 hours. I know this sounds extreme, but it isn't.

Personally, I like to cook a tad longer. But you know the rule, cook until the button pops out...

Happy baking all.


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