Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Prep--Turkey recipe

D and I are hosting thanksgiving for the first time this year. We will have 12 people in total including 2 90-year old women named Ruth and 2 dads who don't eat poultry! It will be the first time both of our families have been together since our wedding 6 months ago (6 months today!! Happy Anniversary D!). Luckily, D and I both have family members who like to cook so we've divvied up most of the meal for others to bring, and I decided to get as much as I could of my part of the meal done in advance. So that meant the liquor store and Trader Joe's on Saturday and cooking on Sunday!

I happened to be home sick last Wednesday with a killer cold (now on antibiotics for a sinus infection) and I watched Martha. Emeril was on and they made a turkey breast that looked so delicious! I used that recipe yesterday to cook a turkey breast so that I could make my Thanksgiving gravy in advance. I'm going to use the same recipe on Thursday when I cook my actual turkey. Here's the basic recipe as I followed it (and you can click here for the original on Martha's site).

Bacon and Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

5.67 lb fresh hotel style turkey breast (bone-in)
5 strips of bacon
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano (I used some regular oregano and some Greek)
2 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Rinse turkey breast and pat dry. Cook bacon in a skillet and reserve the grease. Soften the butter and add crumbled bacon, garlic, herbs, 1 tsp of the salt, and the pepper. Cream butter mixture to make a paste. Loosen the skin of the turkey with your hands and rub the meat with the butter mixture--make sure there is butter mixture between the skin and the meat all over the breast of the bird. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the carcass. Baste the outside of the skin with the reserved bacon grease, and then generously cover with the remaining salt. Place the turkey, breast side up, in a roasting pan. If you want to make gravy, do not use a rack in the pan. Cook in a 375 over for about 1 hour 20 minutes until a thermometer reads 165 degrees (note: on my breast the timer didn't pop up when it reached 165. I think if I had cooked it until the timer popped up it would have been dry). Remove the bird from the oven and move to a platter or cutting board. Cover with foil and let rest for 20 minutes or so before slicing.

The skin on this turkey was unbelievably good--crispy and salty! I had to eat some right away! I'll post later today on the rest of the prep I did on Sunday. Stay tuned for recipes for gravy and stuffing!
Here's a picture of all of the fresh herbs I used for the turkey and stuffing. The the pots of herbs on my deck are still going strong despite heavy frost. I plan to use up just about all of the herbs on Thursday. One good trick for fresh herbs that I learned somewhere is to rinse them in cold water and then spin them in the salad spinner!
Oh, and it wouldn't be me if there wasn't a little mishap involved in this cooking. Sunday's casualty was a scorched oven mitt. I moved the skillet with the bacon in it off of the burner, but forgot to turn the burner off. I was chopping herbs and grooving along to James Taylor singing Shower the People (from his new album, played on Sunday Morning Over Easy, my favorite radio show), when suddenly I smelled something dreadful. Burning polyester smells awful, but I was so stuffed up that I didn't smell it until it was really smoking! Good thing it was a nice day (though 40 degrees) so I could open all of the windows!

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