On this 23rd Day of WordPress I figure you are pretty well tied up in planning for the holidays and not really in the mood to get down and dirty with some hard core code examples. So I have something a little bit different for you: 24 hours of free access to Lynda.com and all its amazing tutorials! (Don’t follow the link now unless you have 24 hours to spare. Wait until you can sit down and relax in front of your computer for a full day undisturbed) That way you can take the time during the holidays to sit down and devour my WordPress 3 Essential Training course along with the hundreds of other fantastic videos on the site. I strongly recommend you set aside a full day for this and that you have a large pot of coffee handy because there’s a lot to learn in Lynda’s libraries and the pass really only lasts for 24 hours.
Be sure to come back tomorrow for the huge finale of this article series. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
And now for something completely different:
How to cook a perfect turkey
So, seeing as I don’t technically have a tutorial for you today I decided to serve up something else instead: How to cook a perfect turkey. This is actually my father’s recipe, honed and refined over many years, and for the last 8 years I’ve been following it to the letter for raving reviews. And now you can too!
This recipe covers both turkey and stuffing. I recommend getting the turkey one size too big so you are guaranteed leftovers for sandwhiches the next day.
- Turkey (I get Butterball – it’s been a success every time)
- Ground beef (500g is good for 5-6 people)
- Ground pork (same ammount as the ground beef)
- Whole oats or dry bread crumbs – 1/4 the volume of the combined meat
- 4 – 6 eggs
- A block of butter
- Cream and/or homo milk or another rich type of milk
- Salt & Pepper
- A splash of Port wine
- A bottle of cheap sweet white wine
- Lingonberry jam (get it at IKEA) or in a pinch cranberry jelly
- One onion per person
- Two potatoes per person
- Carrots and some other greens
- A sharp knife, preferably a fillet knife
- Large needle
Prepping the turkey
Thaw the turkey in the fridge for around 4 days until it is not a solid block of meat. If you’re in a hurry you can thaw it in running cold water. Do not under any circumstances thaw it in the open by leaving it on the counter for a day. It will result in a visit to the ER for all your guests.
Once the turkey is thawed, look inside the neck area. Usually you’ll find a small bag containing the heart, liver and giblet as well as the neck. Take these out and place the neck to the side. Cut the heart in four pieces and remove the heart valves and any big fatty tissue or other hard bits. Next spread the giblet in three and cut off the white tendon material that is holding the pieces together. Toss the heart, giblet and liver in a blender and make a mush out of it. This will be added to the stuffing later for that signature turkey taste.
Now for the turkey. Take your knife and cut around the ends of the legs all the way to the bone. The goal here is to cut through the many tendons that run along the bone. Grab the tendons one by one with your pliers and run the knife carefully up under the skin along the tendons as far as you can. Be careful not to poke holes in the skin. Try to cut the tendons loose as far in as you can and pull them out. This is a seriously laborious task and it’ll take you at least 30 minutes for both legs. It seems unneccesary and frustrating, but the end result is well worth it: Tender, non-chewy drumsticks.
Making the Stuffing
When all the tendons are out (I think there are at lest 6 or 8 per leg – two big ones and a pile of small ones) it’s time to make the stuffing. Take the beef and pork and mix it together (pork has less taste btw so if you want to have more of a turkey flavour add more pork and less beef. For the last few years we’ve gone 100% pork). Cut out a quarter of the meat and fill the space with whole oats, then add the meat in again. Mix in eggs (4 for a small turkey, 6 for a large one), some cream, a splash of port wine and a mix of spices. This is a bit of a trial and error type thing so feel free to experiment. Finally add in the mush from the turkey innards and mix the stuffing until it has a homogenous consistency.
Stuffing and stitching the turkey
Grab your block of butter and cut out a bunch of flat pieces. With the bird breast up run your hands up under the skin of the turkey to separate it from the meat and place some nice large chunks of butter on each of the breasts, on each of the thighs and some other meaty places. This will make the meat more moist. With the butter in place stuff the turkey full of the stuffing. Fill the cavity from behind and then add in from the neck as well. If there is any stuffing left wrap it in aluminum foil so it won’t burn and place it next to the turkey in the oven.
When the turkey is properly stuffed, grab your big needle and twine and stitch it shut. You want to close all the holes completely so do your best Frankenstein stitching here. The goal is to make the turkey leak-proof to keep all the moisture inside. Finally tie the legs together and run some twine around the whole bird to tie the wings tight to the body. Basicaly you want to turn the bird into a big football so it cooks better.
Take your turkey football and place it in a tray. Place the leftover stuffing next to it along with the neck wrapped in aluminum foil (if you want to eat it) and fill the rest of the tray with quartered onions, sliced potatoes, carrots and other stuff.
Preheat the oven to 440 degrees Fahrenheit. Right before you put the turkey in the oven, crack open your bottle of cheap sweet white wine and pour the entire thing over the turkey so that the liquid stays in the pan. Cover the bird with aluminum foil so it doesn’t burn and put it in the oven on the bottom rack. The sugars in the wine will plug all the pores in the skin of the bird and keep more of the moisture inside. As a bonus the wine also gives the turkey a nice taste and smell.
When the liquid around the turkey starts to bubble, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and let it cook for a long time (about 1 hour per kilo, so probably 5 – 6 hours depending on the size).
For the last half hour take the aluminum foil cover off to brown the turkey. If you have a cooking thermometer stick it in the thickest part of the breast to make sure it’s cooked properly. If not, leave it in longer.
When the turkey is done, take it out, remove the twine and cut it up. If it was cooked properly the thighs should pretty much fall off when you touch them. Because the stuffing is made of pork I safe it by nuking it a bit in the microwave just to be sure.
Serve the turkey with the potatoes, onions and other goodies from the pan as well as gravy, jam and whatever else you want.