Friday, November 20, 2009

"Boy, am I steamed!" . . .

. . . 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.

Bon appetit!


Joseph Louthan said...

Boy howdy this makes a whole lotta sense.

Many times, I need different turkey parts (actual meat) in another recipe and this makes more sense to do than anything else.

Honestly, the turkey is a given. I really want the carcass for soup later on and the inward parts for gravy.

nicolas john laparra said...

Yes! The upside-down Turkey trick has worked for me for years! Juicy , white meat!.

But we prefer steak for Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! After 15 years of marriage, I am still a dunce in the kitchen when it comes to poultry. The first time I hosted my in-laws for Thanksgiving, I took the 20 pound turkey out of the freezer around 8am. Needless to say, my mother in law performed a miracle when she arrived at noon (starving) and managed to get that bird edible by dinner time. I will enjoy the day much more doing this steaming method ahead of time! -Andrea

Tim said...

What a great idea! I'm going to have to try this; I've been plotting and planning how to get everything in the oven this year. What a blessing! Thanks for sharing.

I've been enjoying your adoption stories, too.

Tim said...

Oops the above comment was from Tim's wife, Kristin. Sorry!

Bonnie said...

I thought it was funny reading your post as I was in the kitchen yesterday cooking a turkey dinner . . . not for Thanksgiving, but for Melissa's birthday dinner. We are having dinner on Thanksgiving at the Nursing Home in Milaca where Denny's mom is and Melissa asked if "sometime" I would make my dinner. You know how it goes - "yours is the best, mom!" I usually roast my turkey the day before also. Added to that is a great recipe to do the potatoes the day before (thank you Auntie Betty)so you do not have that nasty potato pan in the kitchen and the main part of the meal is done! Happy Thanksgiving, Noel!