Contributed by Holly Amore, Resident Chef, Sur la Table, Los Angeles, CA
Turkey has always been one of my favorites to cook even when it is not Thanksgiving. Here are some tips and tricks that I have found useful over the course of many turkeys.
• Salt and Pepper the turkey all over; let the bird sit in the refrigerator overnight (do not cover). The salt will help draw the juices to the surface while drying out the skin. This will guarantee a crispy skin and succulent meat.
• Bring the bird out to room temperature while you are pre-heating your oven. This will help guarantee that the turkey is cooking uniformly.
• Do not stress over having the turkey done at the same time as the rest of the meal. Plan to pull the turkey out of the oven one hour before you plan to dine. The bones hold heat keeping the turkey warm, and the longer you let the turkey rest, the longer the juices can re-distribute among the meat. This will also free up oven space!
• Sear the giblets and turkey neck in a good quality fry pan with a bit of duck fat. This will extract a really rich flavor that can be used in pair with your pan drippings for excellent gravy.
• Finally, save the carcass of the turkey and make stock for many other delicious recipes with your left overs!
Yield: About 8 cups
1 turkey carcass
1 large onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large celery ribs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 cups (2 quarts) water
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs of parsley
3 sprigs of thyme
Pressure cooking method (fastest): Transfer everything to a large pressure cooker and cook for 60 minutes. (Always review manufacturers’ directions before using any pressure cooker. Make sure your pressure cooker’s capacity can accommodate all the ingredients or make stock in two batches.)
Slow simmer method: In a large pot, combine all stock ingredients; bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until stock is richly flavored and reduced slightly, 3 to 4 hours. Don’t allow the stock to return to a boil; it should bubble gently.
When finished, remove from heat and allow stock to cool slightly. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator or in the freezer.