My friends and I like to have a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with one
another so we can enjoy each other’s company and that of our families.
It is also a great excuse to have two separate Thanksgiving dinners and
prolong the delightful leftovers twice as long. I decided to go all out
on the turkey this year and spent the entire week leading up to the
dinner party researching various turkey-roasting methods. I decided to
brine the turkey and roast it at a high temperature for the first 30
minutes of cooking to seal in the juices, then lower the heat a bit for
the rest of the cooking time. I don’t know if it was the brining or
brief high cooking temperature or both, but everyone remarked on how
juicy and moist the white meat was, which made me very, very happy. I
really loved the pear aspect of the meal, it was slightly sweet but not
too sweet, complementing the turkey meat in just the right way. And the
pear-laced pan drippings made, honest to God, the best gravy I’ve ever
had. I was also able to finally give my new Wusthof
knife set a run on a solid block of meat, and…just…whoa. These made
carving the turkey so, SO much easier. And chopping the onions was a
dream! I just had to push down gently and it went right through them, no
nasty sawing back and forth for eons with my old target brand knife set
and using all my body weight to get the knife down though root
vegetables which, looking back, could have resulted in the loss of many a
finger if I wasn’t more careful. Now that I have a quality set of
knives and recently got a large sharpening stone, I’m never going back
to the days of dull-blade cooking. It makes my prep and carving work
faster, safer, and much, much less frustrating.
Now that I’ve wrapped up my knife-rant, I want to wish all of you the happiest of
Thanksgivings and let you know that the thing I am most thankful for
this year is you. Thank you for continuing to read my little side
stories and participate in my life through your readership and comments.
It is deeply appreciated.
If you want to brine the turkey, (I recommend it!),
place it in a brining or turkey-sized oven bag or large stockpot and fill the bag/pot with a
brining solution that contains 1 cup of salt and 1 tablespoon of dried
sage for every gallon of water. Make sure the bird is completely
submerged in the brining solution and place it in the refrigerator to
soak overnight. I recommend placing the bag in a pan to make it easier to get it in and out of the refrigerator.
The next morning, make the glaze
by bringing all the ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized pot over
medium-high heat. Bring the heat down to medium low and continue to boil
for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit, and then puree
in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Set aside.
Next, make the stuffing. Pour the milk over the dried stuffing
cubes in a large bowl and allow them to soak, stirring a couple times to
help evenly soak the cubes. Meanwhile, saute the onions in the duck fat
or butter over medium-high heat until translucent, about 10 minutes,
stirring every couple minutes. Remove the onions from the heat and
scrape the onions and duck fat or butter into the bowl with the
stuffing. Add the egg, pear, seasonings, and 2 tablespoons of the pear
glaze and toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Set aside.
Now you can begin preparing the turkey. Preheat the
oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it, and
pat dry. Mix together the duck fat or butter with the sage, thyme,
salt, and pepper until it is fairly soft and spreadable. Rub the mixture
all over the outside of the bird, the inside of the bird, and
underneath the skin on the entire front (breast) of the bird. I was able
to peel the skin up slightly and then push my way under the entire
breast skin with my hands, rubbing the fat and spice mixture everywhere.
distribute the chopped onion on the bottom of the roasting pan. Once
the bird is coated inside and out with the fat mixture, set it in the
roasting pan, breast facing up. Stuff the bird until full and set aside
whatever stuffing you have left in a separate oven-safe pan. Tie
together the turkey’s legs with cooking twine. Whisk together the 4 cups
of broth with 1/2 cup of the pear glaze, then pour the mixture into the
roasting pan, pouring around, not over, the turkey. Arrange the 6
halved pears around the bird.
Place the roasting pan in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, then
lower the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue cooking for 15-20
minutes per pound of turkey. Baste the bird every 20 minutes with the
pan drippings, but every third basting (i.e. once per hour) baste the
bird with the pear glaze. Rotate the roasting pan once per hour to help
the bird cook evenly (since you will be opening the oven every 20
minutes to baste the bird, the side facing the oven will always loose a
bit of heat).
If the bird is browning too quickly,
tent tin foil over the roasting pan (do not allow the turkey skin to
touch the tin foil otherwise it will cook onto it and the skin will get
pulled off when you take off the tin foil, which would make your turkey
When it starts to look done, take the
temperature of the turkey and once it reaches 165 degrees in the breast,
stuffing cavity, and thigh, it is safe to eat. Allow the bird to rest
for 30 minutes before carving. While the bird is resting, make the
gravy. Heat 3 cups of the liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan in a
small pot over low heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of corn starch and 2
tablespoons of flour until smooth. If you want your gravy to be thicker,
continue adding tablespoons of flour and/or corn starch until your
desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat and set aside.
Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy and the remaining pear glaze on the side for optional drizzling.