For this take on turkey, cut the bird into pieces (which helps ensure even cooking), salt overnight, and cook slowly for juicy, tender meat. If breaking down the turkey seems too advanced, have your butcher do it for you.
1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen whole turkey, thawed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
10 cup cold water
4 celery stalks, quartered and divided
2 medium onions, peeled, quartered, and divided
2 carrots, quartered and divided
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
How to Make It
Remove giblets and neck from turkey; set aside. Discard liver. Place turkey, breast side up, on a cutting board. Pull legs away from body; using a boning knife, cut through skin at leg joint. Using both hands, turn leg quarter away from the body until the joint pops out of socket. When flesh and joint are exposed, place knife firmly against joint to make cut. Cut through joint to remove leg quarters, and set aside. Remove wings along the joint, and reserve wings. Using kitchen shears, cut along backbone on both sides from the tail to neck to remove backbone; reserve backbone. Place breast, meat side down, on a cutting board. Using a large, heavy knife, cut breast in half lengthwise.
Place breast halves and leg quarters in a large bowl; sprinkle with salt. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.
Combine reserved giblets, wings, and backbone in a large Dutch oven. Add 10 cups water, 8 celery pieces, 4 onion quarters, and 4 carrot pieces. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 5 hours or until mixture measures 8 cups. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill stock 8 hours or overnight.
Skim solidified fat from surface of stock; discard fat. Return stock to high heat; bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes or until stock measures 3 cups. Strain mixture through a sieve, reserving stock. Discard the solids.
Remove turkey from refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325°.
Arrange turkey pieces, skin side up, in a roasting pan, and arrange remaining 8 celery pieces, 4 onion quarters, and 4 carrot pieces in pan. Brush turkey skin with 2 tablespoons cream; sprinkle with black pepper. Bake at 325° for 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of breast registers 165°, basting every 30 minutes with 2 1/2 tablespoons stock. Remove from oven. Place breast halves and leg quarters on a jelly-roll pan or cutting board. Let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Discard skin.
Add 1 cup stock to bottom of roasting pan; carefully scrape browned bits from bottom of pan. Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour drippings into bag; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to top). Seal bag, and carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Strain drippings through a sieve into a medium saucepan, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat and solids. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups stock to pan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Combine remaining 6 tablespoons cream and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir cream mixture into stock mixture, stirring with a whisk. Boil 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Serve gravy with the turkey.
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I used this method for our Thanksgiving turkey, though I made a traditional giblet gravy instead of the cream gravy. I may NEVER cook a whole turkey again! The meat cooked so evenly and it was done in half the time of my usual whole bird. All of my guests were happy with the results. Now, I do not know my way around boning a chicken or turkey. The meat man at Publix didn't bat an eye when I asked him to do it. Like another poster, I almost waited too late to get started, thinking I could begin on T'giving day. Luckily, I reviewed the recipe the night before and was able to brine the turkey and get the stock going. A huge success!
Made this recipe for our Thanksgiving feast this year using a fresh American Bronze Heritage turkey from a local Wisconsin farmer. It was out-of-this-world good. Both white meat and dark meat were juicy and succulent and all was cooked evenly at the same time. A real plus when dealing with a big bird. I grew up cutting up whole chickens so was not daunted by cutting up this turkey, but a good boning knife and sharp kitchen shears help a lot. Once it's cut up, it's a very simple, low maintenance recipe. I also made the turkey stock from the neck and wings, which was also excellent. Just make sure to plan to do the prep work the day before roasting. I realized almost too late that the bird needed to be cut up and "brined" in kosher salt at least 8 hours ahead of time. The real hurdle was getting over the idea of cutting up the Thanksgiving turkey before roasting it...there's no star-of-the show presentation before everyone digs in.
The cooking temp of 325 is way too low to "roast". I usually roast a butterflied chicken at about 375 for an hour. So I cooked our quartered Thanksgiving turkey at 375 instead and it still took 3 hours to cook. This really delayed our dinner. Turkey was good and moist when it was done. Gravy was just ok. Needed a lot of doctoring up. Overall....a disappointment.
I have been roasting chickens this way for some time. A turkey does take more time and strength. Finding the joints is the key. I do a few things to improve the flavor. Instead of immediately popping the wings, back and giblets into a pot of water, I first season and then brown them in the oven. Pouring the water first into the roasting pan to loosen the browned bits and then into the stock pot with the browned turkey pieces and vegetables adds richness to the flavor. When the turkey pieces are tender, I remove from the pot, cool and then remove all of that meat. It goes into the gravy and the dressing. Any left over can be used in the soup the next day or put into the freezer with the extra stock. This stock is very flavorful and I don't find it necessary to reduce, but it can be done to intensify the flavor. More stock is made on Thanksgiving.I find this method of roasting a turkey more practical. It is easier to deal with large pieces than with a large, heavy bird.
I haven't completed this recipe yet, but thought I would pass along a few tips for anyone else who might be tackling it for tomorrow (Thanksgiving 2011). Quartering a turkey is not for sissies - give yourself plenty of time (at least 30 minutes - perhaps as much as an hour if you're new to butchering). For me, removing the legs was the easiest part; I cut right up to the joint, then grabbed the leg with a paper towel and twisted; it was obvious how/where to cut. The wings were way harder and did not dislocate as easily, and halving the breast is downright daunting. I'm optimistic this is going to be a great dish - would love to hear from anyone else working this recipe tonight. Be patient, be careful, and for heavens sake, be sober!
As a follow up, this turned out very moist.The stock was very good, but I didn't get browned bits, so the gravy needed a lot of help. The suggestions from another reviewer sound like a smart approach. I'll definitely do this recipe again.
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