Monday, September 24, 2007

The Big Bird

You know, we don't make turkey very often, which really is a shame. Turkey is a fantastic food and a great way to stretch a budget. Because of their size, a turkey can feed a family of four for quite a while- even a smaller turkey. We make turkey about twice a year- once at Thanksgiving, and once another time. This past week I decided that I was in the mood for turkey, and I figured that Sunday Company Dinner was the perfect time to do so. We'd have help eating that big bird, and I think that most people enjoy eating roasted turkey, so I picked one up.

As it thawed in the fridge for a few days, I went back and forth on how I was going to roast it, and what I was going to season it with. There really are endless possibilities when it comes to a turkey. I finally decided to settle on Fennel Spice Rub from Michael Chiarello. Andy's absolute favorite baked chicken uses the rub, so I thought it was worthwhile to try it on turkey. I seasoned and rubbed, and drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil, and then seasoned a little more. I took one carrot and one celery, cut them into chunks and stuffed the cavity, and tossed the bird into the oven. At the same time, I had pulled some turkey stock out of the freezer from the last turkey making adventure and thawed that for basting with.

Using the turkey stock to baste with was the best decision I could have made. I had about 4 cups total, and used 2 cups to baste the bird from time to time. It was a 13 pound turkey and took just over 3 hours to full cook. Using a flavorful stock to baste added an extra layer of flavor, and also provided fantastic drippings as a base for gravy. After the turkey rested for 20 minutes, I carved it up and used the remaining 2 cups of stock to finish the gravy. It was rich and flavorful, and didn't need any seasoning other than a touch of black pepper if you can believe it. The whole process was perfect for company. I had the turkey carved and on a sheet pan, the carcass in a pot already for stock, and the gravy made before anyone walked in the door. When it came time, a quick re-heating in an oven perked the turkey back up, and we weren't all standing around wondering when it was going to be done.

The turkey stock has been simmering all night, and part of it will make some turkey noodle soup for dinner, the rest will be frozen for later use. Leftover turkey meat will be portioned and frozen, and we probably have about 3 more meals out of the meat- and what was with other people helping us eat the turkey last night! I can't recommend turkey enough,we love it, and should really remember to eat it more often.

Michael's Fennel Spice Rub

1 cup fennel seeds
3 Tablespoons coriander seeds
2 Tablespoons white peppercorns
3 Tablespoons sea salt (preferably grey) ** I tend to agree, grey salt is a great splurge.

In a saucepan over med-low heat, toast the fennel, coriander, and peppercorns. Toss them frequently, and toast until golden brown and fragrant. Pour onto a plate to cool completely.

Combine toasted seeds with sea salt in a blender and grind. If making a half recipe, you can use a spice grinder. When using the blender, make sure to pause and shake the jar a few times to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Fennel spice rub will keep for about 6 months tightly sealed in a spice jar. (But I bet it won't last that long)

1 comment:

swirlingnotions said...

Great post, Erika. It made me realize how much I miss turkey this year. I think I've written some sort of thanksgiving article for the past half dozen years or so, which has meant a Thanksgiving feast in April to test the recipes. But not this year. So I'm already behind in my turkey consumption . . . I'll have to catch up!