Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Roast Turkey Dinner with Potatoes and Green Beans

A week of Turkey Delights

What happens when you have an 8 lb. worth of Thanksgiving roast turkey and only 2 people to eat it? A Turkeyathon - a full week of turkey themed dishes!

The first time I ever roasted a turkey was about 6 years ago. There isn’t any kitchen nightmare story to tell though: the turkey didn’t get burnt or caused a fire in the kitchen or anything disastrous like that. The turkey got roasted all right, but not only did it look pathetic (it didn’t have that roasted brown look that I imagined it would look based on what I’d seen in TV commercials and restaurant’s chef prepared rotisserie chicken), it also tasted very bland and dry and at the time I thought that it really wasn’t worth all the mess left in the kitchen, not to mention the whole day wasted preparing it, and so I’ve sworn off roasting turkey ever since. As a result, I’ve skipped Thanksgiving dinners for the next 6 years after that (not that I have a family tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving in the first place), at least until last week. It was a last minute decision. We went grocery shopping and saw a mountain of frozen turkeys and thought maybe we’d give roast turkey a try. It was on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Monday holiday so we thought, “Heck, why not!” After all, what would a Thanksgiving holiday be without some self-inflicted kitchen disaster?

This time around I had a little bit more of confidence in my cooking ability and a little bit of motivation. I attended a Christmas soiree at my cousin’s house last year where she prepared a variety of sumptuous holiday dishes, including a delicious and juicy roast turkey. I admit that I was a little jealous of her delicious and juicy roast turkey so I picked up some tips from her on how to successfully prepare a roast turkey that won’t look or taste bad. As it turns out the secret really is in brining the turkey overnight and then brush some butter on the skin while roasting to make the skin brown and somewhat crispy (a few steps I missed some years ago when I unsuccessfully attempted to roast a turkey). I followed her advice this time and armed with some culinary courage of my own and a pack of poultry blend herbs, I attempted to roast a turkey once again, without expecting too much out of this experiment. To my delightful surprise, the roast turkey turned out nicely: browned and crispy on the outside, juicy and delicious on the inside. I especially loved the stuffing and the gravy that was made out of the turkey juice. Bland, it was not at all! As a result we were stuck with lots of delightful and delicious leftovers that we actually didn’t mind eating day after day for one whole week.

A Canadian Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner

1. Defrost frozen Turkey in salt water overnight (starting midnight) at room temperature up until around 11 AM the next day.
2. Prepare stuffing
3. Prepare herb (poultry herb) butter
4. Prepare vegetable stock

Vegetable stock:
1) ½ large white onion
2) 2 shallots
3) 3 carrots
4) ½ cup cilantro (replacing celery – there was no celery)
5) 2 cloves garlic
6) ¼ cup shiitake mushrooms
7) Salt, black and white pepper and Mrs. Dash

Direction for stock:
Put all ingredients in pot with water and boil. Once boiled, strain to get the liquid and discard ingredients. Set aside.

1) 3/4 (large size) yam
2) 3 Carrots
3) ½ large white onion
4) 2 shallots
5) 1 clove garlic
6) ¾ cup shiitake mushrooms
7) 4 multigrain toasts
8) 1 tbsp. roasted sesame seeds
9) Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash

Direction for stuffing:
1) Heat canola oil in a pan and cook yam slices, put a pinch of salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash, cook until slightly soft but not mushy. Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable stock to prevent the yams from drying out and burning. Place the cooked yams in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2) Using the same pan, add more canola oil. Put the rest of the ingredients, except sesame seeds and toasts, and sautee until all the vegetable juices come out. Season with salt, white and black pepper and Mrs. Dash and a pinch of paprika. Add a little of the vegetable stock to the mixture to keep it moist. Once cook, add to the yams and mix. Shred the toasts into the mixture and add the sesame seeds. Stuff into the turkey’s cavity (after inserting some of the poultry herbs from the herb butter dressing into the cavity – see herb butter).

Herb butter dressing:
1) Place a bunch of poultry herb in a pan (thyme, rosemary, sage and Italian parsley) on a medium heat.
2) Spoon approximately 3 tbsp. of butter into the herb mixture and heat till butter is melted. Set aside.
3) Take out a few of the herbs from the butter mixture and insert into turkey cavity before inserting the stuffing.

Roast Turkey:
1) After inserting herb and stuffing, place turkey in a roasting pan with carrots and yams and 2 - 3 cups of vegetable stock, a couple more sprigs of herbs from the herb butter dressing and cover and place in a preheated oven at 350 F.
2) Roast for about one hour.
3) Open the oven and baste the turkey with juices from inside the pan. Keep roasting and check turkey and keep basting with juices a couple more times every half hour for a few more hours or so until the turkey and stuffing inside it reach a temperature of around 150 F. Sprinkle the turkey skin with a pinch of paprika and pieces of thyme. Start brushing the skin evenly with herb butter dressing and keep roasting, uncovered this time until the turkey and the stuffing inside it reach a temperature of 175- 180 F and the skin turns brown. If the skin turns brown before reaching the desired temperature, cover with aluminum foil to prevent burning.

Turkey mushroom gravy:

1) 2 cups of roast turkey juice.
2) 1 shallot.
3) ½ cup vegetable stock.
4) ½ cup dried or fresh black mushroom.
5) Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, paprika, saffron.
6) ¼ cup of red wine.
7) 2 tbsp. of cornstarch.

1) Heat oil over medium heat and sautee slices of 1 shallot. Once fragrant, pour 2 – 3 cups of juices from the roasting pan (roast turkey juices) and heat until almost boiled. Prepare ½ cup of dried black mushrooms that has been rehydrated. Mix mushroom into the juice in the pan and keep boiling under medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoon of vegetable stock once it boils and keep boiling.
2) Season with salt and pepper and Mrs. Dash and a pinch of paprika. Add a couple strands of saffron (optional). Lower heat.
3) Pour ¼ cup of red wine and keep boiling under low heat.
4) Place 2 tbsp. of cornstarch in a small bowl and dissolve with cold vegetable stock/water. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the juice and keep boiling for a few more minutes under low heat.

Green beans:
1) 2 – 3 cups of green beans, washed and drained.
2) ½ tbsp. canola oil and ¼ tbsp. sesame oil
3) ¼ tbsp. roasted sesame seeds

Heat canola and sesame oil in a pan over medium heat. Add green beans and sautee until cooked. Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable stocks now and then to keep the vegetables from drying out. Once cooked, sprinkle sesame seeds and turn off heat.

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