Braised Turkey

Look at that gravy. It sparkles.

With the days getting darker (read this good post about it at Door Number 8), the evenings are getting really long. It seems natural to make the best of things by cooking up nice Sunday dinners. Here's another one where we actually invited guests over—first time in a long time! The main dish: braised turkey. This happened earlier in November, but since it's Turkey Day I'd like to share it now!

Personal trivia: I had never cooked my own turkey before this.
My whole life, female relatives have
always done all turkey cooking.
For my first turkey dinner I even bought a roasting pan!

The idea of braising a turkey is from a Cook's Illustrated recipe that, for a CI recipe, was actually quite doable and simple. The basic premise is that you brine the turkey (of course! It's Cook's Illustrated!) and then chop it into 3 main pieces, then cook it in flavorful liquid for a couple of hours until it's completely moist and tender.

I like when there's a secret ingredient that makes a recipe go from pretty good to amazing, and this recipe definitely had one. Dried porcini mushrooms. $49 a pound. This selection cost less than $2 though.

These get mixed with a mirepoix on the bottom of the roasting pan, then the turkey is browned in a hot oven.

Here's the bird basted and ready for browning. One of my favorite parts was getting to butcher (as in "cut up") the turkey the night before--cutting off the wings, carefully carving off the drumsticks so I don't 1. miss the chef's oysters and 2. injure myself. I made a slow-cooker stock with the pieces I cut off, plus giblets. I used to love dissecting things in anatomy class. Sorry Alicia Silverstone.

After browning, the recipe says to add wine and chicken broth for the braising, cover, and turn the oven down for 2 hours.

Another fabulous part of this recipe was the amazing gravy. Here's where the power of the porcini really blossomed forth. It was savory, and because I bothered to strain it, also silken.

The braising liquid, strained and ready to gravy-fy.

The gravy hardly needed any salt either. (The turkey probably contributed enough, since I rubbed it with salt the night before in lieu of brining. Why? It was self-basting, and the recipe said that's what I should do.)

To serve I cut dark meat and breast meat onto a platter, and gave the drumsticks to the people who like that sort of thing. Since it was 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, I was trying to ignore the usual conventions, and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and buttered kale. No stuffing, no cranberry sauce. Our guests brought an amazing bread.

Do you always roast turkey, or have you tried other methods? I've heard of the mysterious deep-fried turkey, but I don't know anybody who's invested in the equipment. I'd eat it though!


ValleyWriter said...

I've only ever roasted a turkey - but I had a smoked turkey yesterday at our friend's house - delish! This braised version looks good, too. I bet it keeps the meat nice and moist.

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Prof. Kitty" said...

Thanks VW, hope your T-day was great! Smoked turkey sounds REALLY good, I'd love to try that sometime!