Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Big Turkey in Small Oven

The two biggest problems for cooking are turkey are fitting it in the oven and getting it cooked without drying out. Boning the turkey can eliminate both of these. We have a small oven and I almost always bone the turkey.    

Not everyone who wants to cook a turkey has an oven big enough to cook it in.  One way to solve this problem is to get a bigger oven but it may be more practical to make the turkey smaller. The way I do that is to take the bones out so the meat is more compact -- it will cook more evenly and in a shorter time.    
It goes something like this:  Turn the bird breast down and with a sharp boning knife cut along the spine and start filleting the meat away from the rib cage.  The intent is to remove the bone from inside the meat leaving the meat attached to the skin.  separate the hip joint and work the knife along the thighbone to remove the meat.  
Here you have to make a decision to remove the leg bone, or drumstick, or leave it in.  Recently did a turkey like this and left the leg bone in and it went very well.  Read the rest of this to decide which you will try.
If you are removing the leg bones, continue as you did the with the thigh but you will encounter some bonelike tendons that must be cut away or pulled out with pliers.  Clip the wings first two joints away and then working from the inside remove the bone for the upper wing.  You will now have a sloppy slab of meat with skin on one side.   Rub the meat with salt, pepper, sage and rosemary at least.  There are three ways to proceed now: rolled and tied; stuffed, rolled, and tied; or flattened.  
A rolled and tied turkey is rolled, skin side out and tied within the butcher’s twine into something like a loaf of bread. This will firm up while roasting and slice like a beef or pork roast.  A rolled, stuffed, and tied turkey is done the same way by bread stuffing is prepared and wrapped in the center of your turkey rolled then tied.  Try to completely cover the meat with skin when rolling and tying to keep moisture in.    
The easiest way to handle the turkey is the third way that I call flattened.  Boned and seasoned, the turkey is placed meatside down in a roasting pan and sides pushed in so the meat is slightly mounded.  This works well if you want to leave the legs on.  When I use this technique I like put a good layer of stuffing in the bottom of the pan and then the turkey on top, or chunk up carrot,celery and onion to lie under the bird for a richer gravy.  
All three techniques are cooked the same way.  Rub the seasons on the skin (with a little butter or oil if you want).  Cover with foil and cook at 300-325 until done 1.5 to 2 hours.  Remove the foil about 1/2 through for browning.  
If this seems like entirely too much work.  Cut the turkey into quarters like you would a chicken then season and roast in a pan skinside up.   Note!  The breast will probably be cooked before the legs so pull them out early.

Stock for gravy:  If you bone your turkey, you can use the bones for a nice stock,  season, roast for a while  then simmer in water and vegetable trimmings for 4-6 hours.  Strain and skim the fat to get a rich stock for gravy.