To channel the late Andy Rooney, did you ever notice that methods for making the Thanksgiving turkey often have their own fashion cycle?
Fried turkey was all the rage (still is, judging by the fire department reports), and my sister swore by it – until she noticed the big dead ring in her garden in the spot where they normally dipped the bird in the peanut oil. After a few years, stuff started to grow again, but I believe she’s moved on…
Then, there was the Turducken – a turkey, duck, and a chicken, all boned and stuffed inside of each other with bits of stuffing in between the birds. I’ve made a version of this twice – tho I used boneless breasts of each bird to make a kind of turducken roulade. Tasty, but I wasn’t feeling the love for the whole concept this year – and bread stuffing was out anyway, I needed me a gluten-free option this year.
A Brine? Tempting, but I’ve been there, done that, and still thought it a bit too salty, for my tastes; so, no. What to do?
Enter a recent issue of Southern Living, and this wicked simple method for roasting a bird that turns out moist and tasty, and, thanks to an Anne Burrell spot Rich saw on the TeeVee a week or so ago; a very nice gluten-free (so, no roux) gravy.
•Turkey – we used a 15 lb fresh butterball from Costco
•4 cups apple juice – I used cider, which, interestingly enough in North America, is really just unfiltered apple juice (who knew?)
•1 cup bourbon
•1/2 cup, packed, brown sugar
•4 ribs of celery
•3 or 4 apples, quartered
•2 onions, quartered
Simple, no? The only catch is – you need to begin a day ahead to allow the turkey time to marinate – not all that different from brining.
First, dissolve the brown sugar in the bourbon and cider and soak the cheesecloth in the mixture.
Wring the soaked cheesecloth out, the arrange over the turkey in a roasting pan.
Pour the bourbon and cider mixture over all, cover, and stash in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours, basting when you think of it.
When ready to roast, heat oven to 325°.
Arrange the aromatics in the bottom of your roasting pan – I was using a roaster oven to conserve needed oven space.
Season the turkey cavity with salt, rubbing it in. Then, season the surface of the turkey with salt and pepper, rubbing this into the skin as well.
Bake for 3-1/2 to 4 hours, basting ever 30 minutes or so, until a properly inserted meat thermometer registers 165°, or a button pops up, or whatever method you prefer for making sure your bird is well and truly done.
Remove from the oven (or roaster pan) and let rest for 30 minutes.
Strain enough of the turkey cooking liquid into a pan to cover the reserved turkey neck and giblets.
Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, until done.
Remove the neck (this was always my pepe’s special treat), add some of the aromatics from the roasting pan to the giblets in the pan, and give a good whiz with an immersion blender – let’s cut to the chase here: you NEED one of these, we scored a nice deal on a Cuisinart last summer for about $25 – but be warned, stuff will spatter. Taste the nicely thickened – but still safely gluten-free – gravy and correct the seasoning – I thought a bit of salt and pepper perfect.
Carve your bird, arrange on a platter (next year I need to get me a larger platter) and serve with the rest of your feast day goodies.
And really, easy enough to serve whenever – what did me in was all the holiday additions.
The only change I will make for next time, is to use a really high-sided pan (think a stock pot) to make the gravy – that immersion blender will splatter stuff everywhere – so forget your brine and toss that fryer and box o’ oil – pick up the bourbon and be prepared to fall in love with this nice little bird.