Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If it ain't broke

When it comes to cooking, I have a severe case of ADHD. I bounce around from recipe to recipe and rarely make the same one twice, with the exception of this one. It doesn't require any hard-to-find ingredients, except maybe the apple brandy which, if you ask me, provides the perfect Julia Child sip-of-the-cooking-sherry opportunity.

In any event, here it is, the holy grail of turkey recipes.

Cider-Basted Turkey with Roasted Apple Gravy

1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup Calvados or other apple brandy (or more cider if you're in recovery)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

10 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, 2 cut into quarters, 8 cut into 8 slices each
1 large onion, sliced
6 fresh thyme sprigs
8 large sage leaves

1 15 - 16 pound turkey (I usually buy a 12 pounder and the recipe works fine)
1/2 stick butter, room temperature

1 cup (or more) water

2 cups chicken broth (if using canned, use the reduced salt variety)
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbs. cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and position rack in the bottom third of the oven. Haul out the roasting pan.

For the turkey, combine the 1 cup apple cider, Calvados, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and sage in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Bring liquid to a boil and set aside.

Mix 2 quartered apples, onion, thyme, sage leaves and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon in a large bowl.

Rinse the turkey inside and out, and pat dry. Salt and pepper the main cavity and then spoon the apple mixture inside. Tuck wing tips under turkey and tie the legs together. Rub turkey breast and legs with butter. Pour half of the now cool basting liquid over the turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast turkey for 30 minutes. Pour remaining basting liquid over turkey. Roast 2 hours, basting frequently with pan juices. Add 1 cup or more of water to pan if the juices evaporate. Add all the apple slices to pan juices around turkey. Cover turkey loosely with foil to keep it from browning too quickly.

Continue to roast until apples are tender, turkey is deep brown and thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 175 degrees, about 1 hour 30 minutes longer.

An important note - at this point, use your good judgment, a turkey thermometer - and not the clock - as to the doneness of the turkey. A turkey is like a child - it's done when it's done, and not a minute sooner.

Transfer the turkey to a platter or cutting board and tent it with foil. Let rest for 25 - 30 minutes.

The Gravy
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a bowl. Pour the pan juices into a 4 cup measuring cup. Spoon off the fat and discard. Add enough chicken broth to pan juices to to measure 4 cups. Transfer broth mixture to a large saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Optionally, add the reserved apples and simmer for 2 minutes more (I usually leave the apples out, but some might like the addition to the gravy). Mix apple cider and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk into the gravy. Boil until gravy thickens, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and voila!

An addendum: Just read about a cool addition to this: drape bacon slices on top of the turkey breast and then wrap it in cider-soaked cheesecloth before you through it in the oven. Continue basting as directed.

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