Tiny Kitchen Pre-Season Practice Session Before Thanksgiving
Picking and Preparing the Turkey
- Pick a turkey that will be plump, juicy and flavorful after you cook it. How do you know which one? In my experience, the Whole Foods, free range organic turkey that has not been brined makes for a dry, boring meal. It is also expensive. The sodium added to the commercially Honeysuckle turkeys, for example, ensures that you don’t have to undertake the laborious brining and that the meat is moist and tasty after cooking. But go ahead and use organic turkey and brine it, if you like. No one is stopping you. If you are a natural foods type and a briner, look on the internet for tips for brining. Bottom line, brining brings moisture for juicy tenderness and you can get it by brining a turkey yourself or buying an already brined turkey.
- Pick the size of turkey — my practice turkey was almost 10 lbs. — so that it will fit in your Tiny Kitchen microwave/convection oven. If you select a frozen turkey, make sure you get it 3 days in advance so that it can thaw in your tiny fridge before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 450 F and take the turkey out of its wrappings, rinse it in cold water and pat it dry. Remove the giblets from the inner cavity and set them aside for stock and gravy making.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and soak a length of cheesecloth (that completely covers your bird) in the melted butter, then lay the cheesecloth over the turkey, being sure to cover the legs and wings.
- Immediately place the turkey in the preheated convection/microwave oven, then lower the temperature to 350 F. Calculate the time it will take to cook your bird, with 20 minutes/pound as the rule of thumb, and set your timer accordingly. Remember to turn off your turntable, if you have one, and stick around for the next few hours as it cooks, basting using the pan juices. After the first 40 minutes, baste about every 20 minutes or so.
- Remove the cheesecloth in the last hour of cooking and continue basting to crisp the outer skin. This will be when you add the stuffing (recipe below).
Turkey Stock and Kentucky-Style Sage Stuffing
What is roast turkey without stuffing or gravy?! It’s like throwing a party and not inviting your favorite relatives!
Two hours before your turkey is finished cooking, it’s time to prepare the stock and then the stuffing. The stock takes an hour to cook and is used in the stuffing. The stuffing takes an hour to cook alongside the turkey. But the prep for both is fairly quick. Since you like to cook you won’t mind making everything from scratch, right? I like a sage stuffing and I think you will, too, once you try this recipe. Not only stuffing but so does gravy requires stock, so, here is how to make it.
Make the Turkey Stock
- Giblets from the turkey, minus the turkey liver, which you can pan fry, salt and eat if you like
- One stalk of celery, sliced in small, cross wise pieces
- One tiny piece of onion, about a tablespoon
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 3 cups water
Place all stock ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and lower the temperature, cooking for an hour, until the neck meat is tender. Remove from the heat and add some of the stock to the stuffing to just moisten it. Then let the remaining stock cool. Once cool, cut the neck meat and giblets into tiny pieces and return to the stock. This remaining stock will be used for the gravy.
Prepare the Kentucky-Style Sage Stuffing
- 1/2 loaf of Sara Lee Classic White Bread, toasted and torn into bite-sized pieces.
- 1 tablespoon rubbed sage
- 1 large or two smaller celery stalks, cut crosswise in small pieces
- 3/4 of a medium-sized sweet onion, such as a Vidalia, chopped
- Two beaten eggs
- Approximately 1.5 cups of Turkey Stock (recipe above), just to moisten
- Salt and pepper to taste
While the stock is cooking, prepare the stuffing mixture by combining all the ingredients for the Kentucky-Style Sage Stuffing. Once the stock is ready, pour it over these ingredients. When the turkey has an hour left of cooking, remove it from the oven, baste it and add the stuffing around the turkey then place it back in the oven.
When the turkey is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and place it on a large serving dish, surrounded by stuffing. Let the turkey rest for a few minutes while you make the gravy.
Make the Gravy
Take the roasting pan and set it on the burner. Scrape up the leftover juices and bits of stuffing and add a bit of flour (2 tablespoons for every cup of stock) and let it cook for a couple of minutes, then blend in, with a fork or a whisk, the remaining stock. If your gravy flavor seems insipid, consider adding a teaspoon of bullion. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add a splash of heavy cream or half and half and heat through, then serve. Serve your turkey, stuffing and gravy to rave reviews!
Now it’s time to make the Praline Sweet Potato Pie in Phyllo!