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Author Notes: If my way of roasting turkey reminds you of Julia Child’s, I can tell you in all honesty that she taught me (via “From Julia Child’s Kitchen”) how to cook a turkey. This method has always been successful,. Using a fresh-from-the-farm free-range turkey is, I think, essential to the equation. The massage with Creole Butter comes from my love of Louisiana cooking. It won’t make the turkey “hot,” just gives it a warm “glow!” For the perfect dressing, you’ll want to make Flora’s Cornbread Dressing, http://www.food52.com/recipes/7193_floras_cornbread_dressing
The Creole Butter is almost as essential to my Thanksgiving turkey as the bird itself. You’ll find MANY additional uses for this incendiary butter. The secret is that when you use it with meats, fish or vegetables, it doesn’t make them spicy. Rather, it imparts a warm glow to everything it meets. As with all butter, it freezes well. —ChefJune
Makes a 16- 25-pound turkey
The Turkey (and Creole Butter)
- 1 fresh, free-range turkey
- Sea salt
- Handful of celery tops
- 2 cups coarsely chopped carrots and onions
- handful of parsley sprigs
- Fresh herbs of choice (I like marjoram, thyme, rosemary and sage)
- Creole butter (see Step 1)
- 6 reserved whole sage leaves
- Make the Creole butter by blending in the food processor 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, 3 medium garlic cloves, mashed, 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon each white, black, red peppers. You can make this up to a week ahead and store in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove any loose fat from inside the cavity. Cut off the wing tips and add to the ingredients for stock. Melt 1/4 cup of the Creole butter.
- Rinse and thoroughly dry the turkey with paper towels. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt in the cavity. Put celery, parsley, sage and cooked vegetables from the stock preparation inside. Carefully run your fingers under the breast skin to loosen it. Rub under the skin with Creole butter, then insert 6 whole perfect sage leaves in a pattern under the skin. Rub skin all over with Creole butter. Skewer the neck skin and vent. Tie with kitchen twine to hold legs and wings in place. Place turkey, breast side up, on rack in roaster.
- Dip a large, doubled piece of cheesecloth into the melted Creole Butter. Place this as a poultice on the turkey's breast. Tent with heavy-duty foil, shiny side in.
- Roast in the preheated oven, lifting the tent to baste, first with water or leftover red wine, then with the accumulated pan drippings. About 1 1/2 hours before it is done, add the 2 cups of carrots and onions to the pan to flavor the pan juices. (I use a temperature probe thermometer to tell me when the bird reachs 165 degrees F. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests.)
- After you remove the turkey from the oven, put an upside-down salad plate on a large sheet pan. Rest the turkey (breast side down) against the plate with its tail in the air. Cover the whole thing with a foil tent and place in the still-warm oven (with the heat turned off) while you finish the gravy.
Turkey Stock and Gravy (This will be even better if you make the stock ahead of time.)
- Giblets (except the liver) neck and wing tips
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 2/3 cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Sea salt
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons potato starch mixed with 1/4 cup cold chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons Armagnac
- Chop neck into 2-inch pieces, quarter the gizzard, halve the heart. Rinse and dry with paper towels.
- Heat oil in a heavy 2 1/2 - 3-quart saucepan. Stir in giblets and brown rapidly on all sides. Don't let the oil burn. Remove giblets and stir the vegetables into the pan; cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes, until tender. Then uncover, raise heat and brown lightly, for several minutes. Remove half the vegetables and put into the turkey cavity. Return the giblets to the pan. Add vermouth, stock and water to cover ingredients by 1 inch. Add salt and herbs, and simmer partially covered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Strain, degrease, return to pan. Beat in starch mixture, simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Chill.
- Finishing Spoon excess fat out of roasting pan. Pour in turkey stock and stir over moderately high heat for several minutes, scraping bottom of the pan to get all the coagulated juices incorporated into the sauce. Strain into a saucepan, pressing all the juices out of the vegetables. Degrease the gravy again, and correct seasonings. To reheat just before serving, add 2 tablespoons Armagnac and ignite. When the flames have all gone out, pour into a warm bowl or gravy boat.
- I like to serve American wines with Thanksgiving dinner -- Vision Cellars Pinot Noir from Sonoma County and Chateau Ste. Michelle's Eroica Riesling. Take your pick, red or white!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Thanksgiving Turkey