Friday, November 20th, 2009
. . . reports the Pipers’ 24.43-lb. turkey, which is the oven this very moment.
Right. It’s Friday before Thanksgiving, and the turkey is cooking right now. I don’t think any cook would say it’s roasting. It’s more like steaming.
Lynn Rosetto Casper, of public radio’s Splendid Table has her annual “Turkey Confidential” program on Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving?! Who has time to listen on Thanksgiving? And if I didn’t already have a pretty good idea what to do with my turkey, a program 11 am to 2 pm would be way too late for me.
Maybe there’s someone else who cooks the turkey the way I do, but I’ve never heard of it. Here’s how it evolved over 40 years of Thanksgiving in my kitchen.
1. I decided not to serve any more undercooked or overcooked, dried out turkey.
2. There’s only so much space in the oven, and the turkey’s not the only thing to be cooked for dinner.
3. I got tired of all the other food fading to room temperature while I wrestled with cutting up the bird.
4. I have way better things to do after dinner than picking over a turkey carcass.
5. No Piper male was ever excited at the role of carving a beautifully browned bird at the table.
So, here’s the evolution so far of Piper Thanksgiving Turkey:
1. Thaw the turkey according to packaging instructions.
2. Optional: Remove as much of the skin as you can. Do you remove the skin before you cook chicken parts? If so, just peek at how much fat is hiding under the turkey’s skin. Unbelievable. I trim away as much of that as I can too. Hot running water rinses some of it away.
3. Rinse the turkey well, inside and out.
4. Place the turkey, breast down, in the roasting pan. This is upside down from the traditional drumsticks-pointing-up position, but it lets the moisture from the dark meat cook down into the less-moist white meat.
5. Pour water into the pan, about 1 inch deep.
6. Cover well, with roaster pan lid or foil.
7. Bake according to the temperature and time on your turkey’s packaging.
8. It’s done when the wings or drumsticks start to hang loose from the body. (Or you can use a meat thermometer).
9. Let the whole thing cool enough to handle.
10. Then take the meat from the bones and put it in a sealable plastic container. You can choose whether to slice it now, or just store it in whatever size chunks you get.
11. Pour over the meat as much of the pan liquid as the container can hold.
12. Refrigerate, if it’s only 1-2 days ahead of your meal. Otherwise, freeze it. Also save the rest of the pan liquid to use later for gravy or soup.
13. If frozen, defrost the day before the meal.
14. On Thanksgiving, microwave the meat in the liquid in a covered container. I usually use a slightly lower power setting, maybe 70-80%. If the meat is packed pretty tightly into the plastic container, it will be good to loosen it up, maybe by separating into 2-3 microwavable containers. That way you can heat just what you need, one platters’ worth at a time.
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