Have it both ways for Thanksgiving: Butter-baste the turkey, serve leftovers with glazes


On the Thanksgiving mornings of my youth, I would awaken to the smell of stuffed turkey roasting in the oven. The aroma was a combination of bird and butter, celery and onion, sage and rosemary.

I’d patter barefoot to the kitchen to see Mum in her robe, up to her elbows in the cavity of Turkey Number Two, with Turkey Number One well on its way to burnished deliciousness. My parents hosted a big family such that two birds were needed to feed the crew.

So, because no one makes a better turkey than Mum and because everyone should do as Mum did, I’m going to tell you how she did it with the largest turkey she could find for the best price.

In a minute …

Meantime, consider this: Why not treat yourself and your family to a traditional turkey and one that’s got a little spin on the serve? You can have it both ways.

Either cook a second turkey on Thanksgiving Day, assembly-line fashion; or buy a bigger-than-needed bird and, while roasting it the old-fashioned way with lots of butter, use the down-time in the kitchen to whip up a tasty glaze or two that could be repurposed as marinade/sauce for the leftovers.

Like other poultry, turkey has a mild flavor on its own; It’s the reason it’s the perfect vehicle for savory gravy or sweet/tart cranberry relish.

But the bird can take flight to new flavor dimensions with a glaze/marinade/sauce.

As a glaze, whether savory or sweet, when it’s applied to the turkey during roasting, it can dramatically shift the flavor focus of the bird. For that reason, pick a glaze with a taste profile that complements the rest of the meal. (Do you want a spicy, jalapeno-dominant glazed bird aside marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes and green bean casserole? I think not.)

In advance of the holiday, I tried several distinctive glaze recipes, using a plum glaze — to scrumptious effect — during the roasting process. With the other glazes, I repurposed them as a marinade for the leftovers, packing those leftovers in a plastic food storage bag then pouring in the glaze-cum-marinade. The next day, I microwaved. Yum.

Give it a try. While your turkey is roasting in a bath of butter on Thanksgiving Day, make a couple of glazes then stow away in the fridge. When dinner is done, divide the leftover meat into storage bags and pour a bit of the glaze into the bags. On the following day, pop the marinaded turkey into a low oven or the microwave. No one will complain about leftovers.

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or at 724-772-9180.

Mum’s Butter-Basted Turkey

PG tested

This turkey will end up pretty as a picture and perfectly mild such that a slice of white breast meat will be perfect topped with chunky cranberry relish and the dark-meat pickins’ will be delectable slathered with homemade gravy.

22-pound turkey

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 sticks salted butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash bird, inside and out, then pat dry. Place it on a rack in a roasting pan.

Rub cavity opening with salt and pepper. Then tilt bird and sprinkle some seasoning inside cavity, too.

With your fingers, carefully separate as much of the turkey’s skin from the breast as you can.

Smear butter directly on breast meat

Then smear butter over the entire surface of the turkey, including back.

Fill cavity with stuffing, but not tightly

Roast about 3 hours, basting often periodically and much more frequently during the final hour or so of cooking.

Remove from oven when the internal temperature on instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey leg hits 155 degrees (or, as my mom did it, when the red popper in the turkey pops.)

Allow to rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

Serves 20.

— Dorothy Kane

Mum’s Stuffing

PG tested

This stuffing is perfect tucked into the pocket of a thick pork chop and wonderful as a layer on thin-sliced beef, then rolled into braciole.

1 loaf soft white bread

2 sticks of salted butter

5 large yellow onions, diced

1 stalk of celery, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons dried sage

2 tablespoons dried rosemary

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper

3 eggs

1 cup of water

Cube bread night before and allow it to dry on kitchen counter.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and celery, and saute until tender.

Put dried bread cubes into a large foil pan and sprinkle with sage, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Crack eggs into a glass measuring cup and break up with a fork. Add water, and combine with fork.

Dollop cooked veggies onto seasoned bread cups strategically.

Drizzle egg solution on top of bread and veggie mixture.

Mix stuffing with your hands. If stuffing doesn’t feel moist and hold together, sprinkle a little more water.

Serves 20 along with the turkey.

— Dorothy Kane

Rum Glaze

PG tested

Predominantly sweet, there’s a little je ne sais quoi in this glaze, thanks to the rum, which imparts a lovely caramel color to the breast meat when I used it as a marinade then warmed as a sauce over the leftover turkey. Of course, you can use it as a glaze, applied half-way through cooking.

8 tablespoons of butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dark rum

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil, then lower and simmer for 10 minutes, until glaze slightly thickens and is syrup-like.

Covers 22-pound turkey.

— Adapted from Danny Boome, www.foodnetwork.com

Brown Sugar Glaze

PG tested

If you like the brightness of citrus, this is the glaze for you. The orange comes through distinctly. It would be great with chicken and stir-fried veggies.

2/3 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, brown sugar and orange juice to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, about 10 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of butter and orange zest.

Covers a 12-pound turkey.

— Adapted from www.marthastewart.com

Honey-Herb Glaze

PG tested

Despite a cup of honey, this glaze speaks clearly of herbs. It looks especially appetizing against the turkey’s breast meat.

1 cup honey

1 stick of butter

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and heat until melted, stirring until combined.

Covers a 16-pound turkey.

— Adapted from www.allrecipes.com

Mustard-Maple Glaze

PG tested

Yummy, yummy, spicy, spicy. That’s all that needs to be said.

1½ cups maple syrup

2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 heaping tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained

1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk maple syrup, mustard, horseradish and chili powder in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. (The glaze can be made up to 2 days in advance; store, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using as a glaze.)

Covers 17-pound turkey.

— Adapted from Bobby Flay, www.foodnetwork.com

Plum Glaze

PG tested

I used it as a glaze while roasting the turkey and as a marinade for the leftovers. It’s perfect as a go-round on pork, rice and broccoli.

1/2 cup plum jam or red currant jelly 

2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

2 tablespoons water

1½ teaspoons salt

In a small saucepan, simmer jam, 5-spice powder, peppercorns, water and salt, stirring until jam is melted, about 3 minutes.

Pour glaze through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing on and discarding solids.

Covers 12- to 14-pound turkey.

— Adapted from Gourmet, November 2002, www.epicurious.com 

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