Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Talkin Turkey

From Pierre

Hi magic Robot

I missed out on getting into the Xmas cooking classes by 1 day, so is it OK if I ask you about turkeys?

I'll be cooking lunch for between 6-10 depending on who's talking to who by then. I have ordered a half leg ham and a turkey 3-4kg. I need to be prepared as I will be cooking it at my elderly Father's house where things like butter and olive oil don't exist, more your home brand marj and veg oil.

I wanted to know your opinion on brining the turkey, I have read a lot about it in US mags and sites, where they say it is supposed to make it more tender and not dry out as easily. I tried it with some pork belly but could tell no difference (I used salt and saltpetre)

Other people say oven bags, but I don't know about the idea of cooking in plastic. I also want to glaze the ham, which I have never done before, and there is also the roast veg and gravy to fit into the oven and timetables.

My current thinking is to do the turkey straight in the oven with tarragon/butter/lemonjuice under the skin, garlic cloves, lemons and oranges in the cavity, basting it regularly. The ham I thought I'd do in a Webber, the times given for glazing a cooked ham vary between Maggie's 20-25 mins, to 2 and a half hours in other books. I can't see a half leg warm through in 20 mins.

What's you thoughts?

Merry xmas to all at Sunnybrae
Thank you for a lovely lunch this year.

Robot Replies.

Hi Pierre

A most timely question. Firstly no need to trash your father’s larder! a little olive oil, butter and other basic ingredients can easily be transported!

Now Talkin turkey.

She’s usually a big-ish bird and its quite difficult to cook all the bird in one piece so if you do it should be done at low temperature for a long time and then browned at a higher temperature to crisp the skin. This part could be done in the Weber.

But Robot has a better solution.
Robot usually dissects the bird into
2 Breasts, 2 wings , 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks. Plus the carcass.
The bones of a turkey and the neck make the most delicious stock. This flavour is one of the best things that a Turkey yields. Robot makes turkey stock with duck bones and giblets as well as all the turkey trimmings. See sidebar under Stock.

Re- Brining
Pork Belly is full of fat, so yes you won’t notice the moistness but the flavour will be great. Most Chinese roasted pork is brined before cooking. Brining or salting is also useful to keep the bird or beast fresher longer till required for cooking
Robot usually uses a dry salt cure instead of brining with equal parts of coffee sugar and sea salt mixed with the required aromatics. Don't bury it in the cure a light covering will be ample. At the moment we use star anis and garlic but it could be tarragon and orange as your preferences indicate above. Leave the pieces in the dry salt cure for about 12 hrs in the fridge. Lightly wash and pat dry. Now you have manageable sized pieces that can be cooked at differing times.
BTW Robot only uses saltpetre for fireworks not food.
The bird will be safe in the fridge for 3 to four days after salting before cooking but don’t sue us if you kill all your relatives as Robots do not carry public indemnity insurance here on earth.

By dissecting the bird you can do the vegetables comfortably without having to cram it all around the big bird and also carve with a bit of decorum at the table. A little breast for uncle John, wings for aunt Mavis but the real treats are the thighs. The drumsticks are the most difficult as you need to pull the tough tendons out with a pair of pliers before cooking.

To glaze the ham you do not need to cook it just to set the glaze on the skin so times will vary according to the type of glaze you need.
Good luck and don’t forget to make the broth you won’t be disappointed. It is essential for the gravy but then your father probably has some Gravox.


Thermomixer said...

Thanks Magic, I've never pulled the tendons out precooking - that's what I love about you - always something new and very useful.

Hope you and the family have a merry one if I don't see you before then.

Ran said...

I didnt make it to Sunnybrae this year but I am definitely going next year! Love the garden and food inspirations. thanks