Hi, this is Jeff, subbing for Kelly. I took the reins of the turkey this holiday season, and we documented the trip.
First, some backstory. My family understands that I’m obsessed with hacks: shortcuts that make work easier, and, hopefully, the results of work more spectacular. Why this obsession? Because truly good hacks require detective work and experimentation, and I love nothing better than disappearing down the rabbit hole of the web to find just the right combination of efficiency and aesthetics, then testing it out for myself. This recipe is a result of just such a search, and it started with this goal: I wanted to surprise my family with a Hollywood turkey (i.e., glistening brown skin) that tasted as good, if not better, than those turkeys that had come before.
Here it is. SEXY SUCCESS!
And here's is the science underlying this lovely hack. Before we cook this turkey, we desecrate its corpse by removing the spine. By removing the backbone, you're excising a large mass that does nothing but absorb heat, stealing it from the rest of the bird. This also allows the turkey to lay nearly flat in the roasting pan, and that results in a faster, more even cook.
Face the turkey away from you with the hind legs closest. Take poultry shears, or in my case industrial scissors, and cut along the right side of the backbone. The cut doesn't need to follow the bone closely; there's room for error. Hint: if it's too difficult to cut, move 1/2 inch further away from the spine.
Frequent oven-standee Bun, who has more than her fair share of OCD, seemed very disturbed at the highly irregular way I was treating this turkey.
K NOT COOK BIRDIE THAT WAY JEFFRAY;; SHOUDNT JEFFRAY BE WATCHING FOOTBALL;;;;;;;;;
If later in the day, you plan on making soup from the picked-over carcass, then remove the small bones in the rib cage, too. If not, please to ignore them.
All done. It's at this point when you'll look down and worry that you've ruined Xmas. Ignore that thought. Wash the salmonella off your hands and move on with the actual recipe.
Butterflied Turkey with Cranberry-Molasses Glaze
from Cook's Illustrated (November/December 2010) <-- HUGE callout for Cook's Illustrated magazine
Serves 8 to 10
- 1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds), giblets and neck removed
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt <-- Table salt is not recommended. It’s too fine.
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 large onions, peeled and halved <-- We used one and quartered it.
- 3 cups apple cider
- 1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup light or mild molasses
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Butterfly turkey. What we just did.
Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, carefully separate skin from thighs and breast. Thanks to Mr. Hodge, the coolest Biology teacher ever, I learned taxidermy in high school, so this seemed very familar. Kelly started falling in love with me on our pivotal second date when I told her about learning taxidermy. What a freak.
Using skewer, poke 15 to 20 holes in fat deposits on breast halves and thighs. Rub bone side of turkey evenly with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Flip turkey skin side up and rub 1 tablespoon salt evenly under skin.
Combine remaining tablespoon salt, remaining teaspoon pepper, and baking powder in small bowl. Pat skin side of turkey dry with paper towels. Sprinkle surface of turkey with baking powder mixture and rub in mixture with hands, coating skin evenly. BAKING POWDER!? I know. It sounds bizarre, but this is what gives the turkey its crispy skin without overcooking the rest of the meat.
Transfer turkey to large roasting pan, skin side up. Tuck wings under turkey. Push legs up to rest on lower portion of breast and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Place 1 onion half under each breast and thigh to elevate turkey off bottom of roasting pan. Allow turkey to stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Roast turkey until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 170 to 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 2½ to 3 hours. Ours cooked in only 2 hours! Remove roasting pan from oven and allow turkey to rest in pan for at least 30 minutes or up to 1½ hours. Thirty minutes before returning turkey to oven, increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. You're going to put the turkey back in after glazing, so don't forget this step.
Yeah, yeah. It now looks absolutely nothing like a Hollywood turkey (or one that you'd want to eat). No worries. The magic is in the glaze...
FOR THE GLAZE: While turkey rests, bring cider, cranberries, molasses, vinegar, mustard, and ginger to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1½ cups, about 30 minutes. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into 2-cup liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids (you should have about 1¼ cups glaze). Transfer ½ cup glaze to small saucepan and set aside.
Brush turkey with one-third of glaze in measuring cup, transfer to oven, and roast 7 minutes. Brush on half of remaining glaze in measuring cup and roast additional 7 minutes. Brush on remaining glaze in measuring cup and roast until skin is evenly browned and crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer turkey to cutting board and let rest 20 minutes.
Always let meat rest before carving so that the juices, which have migrated closer to the surface during cooking, will redistribute evenly across the meat. This also gives some of us time to deliver our traditional holiday speech on “It’s a Wonderful Life.” * (see footnote).
Upon seeing the final result, I was heard to exclaim, "that is one slutty looking turkey." (No offense intended to the adjective "slutty.")
While turkey rests, remove onions from roasting pan and discard. Strain liquid from pan through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator (you should have about 2 cups liquid). Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan with reserved glaze, discarding any remaining fat. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter. Even though I reduced this sauce less than directed, it was still too intensely sweet for most of my family. I would suggest either no reduction at all or avoiding this completely.
Alternative Glaze: Apple-Maple
Substitute ½ cup dried apples for cranberries and ½ cup maple syrup for molasses.
Carve turkey and serve.
* First of all, I adore It’s A Wonderful Life, and I’ll watch and re-watch anything with Jimmy Stewart, but be forewarned that my perception of this movie skews closer to Kafka than Capra.
We all know that George reaches the edge of that bridge because he is overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility forced upon him, by his father, by his mother’s brother, by the child-like inhabitants of Bedford Falls, by Potter the craven capitalist, by his brother, even by Mary who inexplicably throws George into the deepest money-pit-of-a-house instead of building a brand new maintenance-free home as they have for everyone else.
Yes, George is ready for the end of his life because he’s exhausted from holding up this entire town on his thin Atlas-unlike shoulders, but let’s be clear. George is not a fool. He doesn’t really believe that the world would be a better place without him. That’s just the angry, ironic surface of his plea.
Unfortunately, though, Clarence is a simple angelic soul, open to literal interpretation, so he proceeds to show George that he is indeed needed, desperately, by everyone, and in the process confirms George’s greatest fear--that if he fails (or doesn’t exist), every person that he loves will disintegrate.
And that revelation pushes George over the edge, not of the bridge, but of his own sanity. The George that runs through Bedford Falls is certifiable, but that’s too simple, because he is also relieved. After all, the worst has happened. He’s going to lose his business, his house, maybe even his family, but he will finally be rid of that overwhelming weight. He is insane with joy. Atlas has transferred the weight to another.
But that’s not where the story ends. Unfortunately, when he returns to that drafty old pit, George learns that the townspeople have “saved” him. His hated foe, Sam Wainwright, has helped bail him out. George (just as Atlas) has been tricked into taking the world back upon his shoulders, because, sure as hell, nobody else in this town wants to do it. So tomorrow George will go back to work. He will decide how he can keep Billy employed without letting him do anything. He will stress over the fact that he owes $8000 to every single person he passes on the street, and how he will pay them back (and we know George will pay them back). And he will remember that brief moment in the falling snow when he was free.