Sunday, November 18, 2007

it is time for turkey

when i was back in ky in august, i stole a magazine from my mother (sorry mom!). it was a ladies' home journal from a november long since past and i wanted to try out the "turkey to remember." just a couple weeks later, i made a whole production out of sunday evening dinner. it was a guard weekend, and i generally like to have something fabulous planned for sunday dinner. it just seems like a nice gesture. andrew spends the weekend living in a tent out in the desert, eating army food and in general having a terrible 48 hours, he should have a homecoming feast.

but, this being my first turkey, it was a bit like stuart mclean's tale of dave cooks the turkey, though not quite as catastrophic. even though i didn't purchase the bird until that morning, i did manage to get it thawed without using either the hairdryer or the electric blanket. i was, however, horrified when i pulled it out of the plastic wrap. i had not purchased a whole turkey: it had no wings or legs. i thought i bought a whole turkey. when i picked it out at the store, it looked like a whole turkey (though clearly i didn't read the label carefully enough). it was just the breast but all still on the bone, i guess so you could stuff it. i was appalled. it was a terrible looking thing with no hands and feet. but onward i pressed.

it was also on this particular occation that i learned chestnuts are not the same thing as water chestnuts. the recipe called for chestnuts and well, that's not what i bought. unfortunately, all my learning happened after i added the wrong ingredient. but i just couldn't find any actual chestnuts at the grocery (though since i shop at walmart, that really shouldn't surprise you.) in later versions of the dish, i left both kinds out, still not finding any real chestnuts to buy, and andrew said he missed the water chestnuts. so i guess it wasn't too terrible a mistake.

the original recipe was a bit much. you needed to make your own turkey stock from scratch and it seemed like there were fifty billion steps. it also served 8 and there are only 2 of us. that's a lot of leftovers. since then i've remade the recipe into something much more manageable but i think just as memorable. my version makes about 4 servings, depending on how big a bird you buy. i've also added and subtracted items, just the normal tinkering that goes on in normal people kitchens.

roast turkey with apricot-rosemary glaze and sourdough stuffing

for turkey and glaze:

1 turkey breast, boneless and thawed
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1 t cider
1 fresh rosemary sprig

for the stuffing:

about a half loaf sourdough bread cubed
1/2 package (about 2/3 cup) mushrooms, chopped
1 T olive oil or 1 T butter or a whole lot of nonstick spray, your choice
1/4 pound sliced applewood-smoked bacon, crumbled (i generally use the already cooked maple flavored bacon instead)
2 large celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 jar water chestnuts (or just chestnuts if you can find them, but i can't vouch for them being yummy in the dish)
1 cup dried apricots sliced
1 T chopped fresh sage
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh thyme
2 cups turkey or chicken stock

once turkey is thawed, butterfly the breast. jeanie'o sells a great turkey breast in the freezer section. it is in a little carry bag and is marketed to be from freezer to oven. it comes with some seasonings and i usually wipe about half of them off and also pull out the pop out thing. preheat the oven to 350. i usually make this in a 9x13 pan, lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. lay the butterflied turkey flat and bake in oven while you are making the stuffing, about 30 minutes.

in a large skillet, using your choice or butter or oil etc, over medium heat saute celery, onions, potatoes, and carrots until potatoes are starting to get bitable, about 15 minutes. add mushrooms and continue cooking 2-3 minutes more until they are golden too. cook bacon in a large skillet or crumble up your already cooked bacon. in a large mixing bowl combine bread, sauted veggies, chestnuts, apricots, sage, rosemary, thyme, and 1 cup stock.

remove partially cooked turkey from oven, and very carefully stuff it with some of the stuffing. really this just means ball up some stuffing in your hands, lay it on half of the turkey, and fold the rest of the turkey back over on top. bake for about an hour and then smear glaze on top. for the glaze, melt preserves, cider, and rosemary together in a small sauce pan. bake turkey for about 30 minutes more, until juices run clear or your themometer reaches the right temp, you know the drill. if you need to cover with foil to keep the turkey from burning, do so. during the last 30 minutes cook time, finish up that stuffing. add the other cup stock and bake. i like to ball it up and cook in a muffin tin. this makes just the cutes stuffing muffins and more bits are crispy.

this can be a meal in itself since it already contains so many things but you can't go wrong with a big pile of mash potatos and gravy or a side item of roasted autumn veggies (i love butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and turnips all chopped up. sprinkle in salt and pepper, maybe some thyme or rosemary. knife in bits of butter, and toss in the oven while the stuffing is baking up). enjoy!


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