When the food magazines come out the month before Thanksgiving, all you see on the covers are the huge, golden brown, perfect-looking turkeys. I have trouble believing that they taste as good as they look. Turkeys have a variety of different muscles that require different cooking methods to be served at their peak. As a chef, I prefer to break down my turkey and serve each part at the height of its flavor rather than carry a whole bird to the table. So I’ve broken it down for you here.
The drumsticks are smoked and then roasted for maximum tenderness and flavor. The thighs and wing flats are braised with a white mirepoix until they are so tender and juicy they practically melt in your mouth. Finally, the breasts are injected with a flavorful marinade made with mayonnaise. I love this technique because the mayonnaise doesn’t liquefy and run out of the meat; it stays in there throughout the marinating period and oven time, so you end up with moist, juicy, perfectly seasoned white meat. This is one turkey dinner that is much more than the sum of its parts.
HOME: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends courtesy Little, Brown and Company Copyright © 2015 by Bryan Voltaggio
Special Equipment: Pressure cooker (optional), Stovetop or outdoor smoker, Wood chips
You can break down the turkey yourself or ask your butcher to do it. A very sharp knife is helpful here. First cut through the skin at the side of the breast where it holds the leg against the body. Gently pull the leg away from the breast, stretching it out slightly to expose the
joint at the thigh. Hold the thigh firmly near the joint that connects it to the body and gently press the thigh backward, so that the joint moves up toward the breast and out of its socket. Cut the
leg away from the body, being sure to keep the oyster (the choice piece of meat above the thigh, in the backbone) attached, and repeat with the other leg. Separate the drumstick and thigh by
cutting straight through the joint that connects them. Pull each wing slightly away from the breast and cut around and through the joint that connects them to the body. Remove the wing tips by cutting straight through the joint that attaches them to the flat part of the wing and reserve the tips for stock. Separate the flat and the drummette by cutting straight through the joint. Reserve the drummettes for stock. Cut along both sides of the backbone and remove it and
the neck, and reserve them for the stock. Separate the tips, flats, and drummettes from the 2 additional turkey wings. Add the tips and drummettes to the reserved turkey parts for stock. Put the flats with the reserved flats and thighs from the whole turkey and the 2 additional turkey
thighs. Reserve the breast separately. Keep the turkey parts in covered containers in the refrigerator until ready to cook, for up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 370 degrees F
Lightly grease a baking sheet. Lay the turkey parts on the baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the turkey pieces are golden brown. Let cool and transfer to a pressure cooker.
Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, soy sauce, and water. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Let the pressure dissipate naturally. Remove the lid and skim the stock. Alternatively, you can put the ingredients in a large pot set over high heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat
to low, skim, and cook, skimming occasionally, for 2 hours.
Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve. Turkey Stock may be used immediately or cooled down and chilled in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. The fat will rise to the top as it chills and may be removed.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Set a large (6-quart) sauté pan over high heat and add the oil. When it begins to shimmer, add 2 of the wings and 2 of the thighs and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown. Flip the turkey parts and cook for another 5 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Transfer to a large plate or platter to cool. Add the remaining 2 thighs and 2 wings to the skillet and
brown on both sides in the same manner. Transfer to the platter with the other turkey.
Add the celeriac, rutabaga, onions, carrots, and garlic to the pan and stir them around to loosen the fond and deglaze the pan with their juices. Once the vegetables are translucent and
tender, transfer them to a large plate or platter to cool. Once the vegetables are cool, transfer them to a covered container and reserve in the refrigerator.
Add the wine to the sauté pan. Let the wine come to a simmer and reduce to a glaze, about 10 minutes. Add the Turkey Stock to the wine and bring to a simmer. Return the turkey to the pan and cover with a lid. Transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours, until the turkey is completely tender. Remove from the oven and stir in the reserved vegetables. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, gently rewarm the braised turkey just until the gelatin melts and you can easily remove the turkey pieces and the vegetables with a skimmer or slotted spoon and reserve
them in a bowl. Set the braising liquid over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half, 20 to 25 minutes.
Combine the brown sugar, ground coffee, smoke paprika, ginger, red pepper flakes, and sea salt in a bowl and mix to combine the Coffee Barbecue Rub.
Rub the turkey drumsticks generously with the Coffee Barbecue Rub. Season the liver, gizzards, giblets, and hearts on both sides with the Coffee Barbecue Rub. Put everything on a rack set over a plate or baking sheet in the refrigerator overnight. Do not cover.
Preheat your stove top of outdoor smoker to about 225 degrees F. Add wood chips, and when the smoke is going, put the turkey drumsticks and organ meats in the smoker and smoke for 15 minutes.
While the drumsticks are in the smoker, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. After smoking, put the drumsticks on the baking sheet and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until juicy, golden brown, and cooked through. Let rest for 5 to 7 minutes before serving.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To make the turkey brine, combine the turkey stock, mayonnaise, garlic, fresh thyme leaves, ¾ teaspoon sea salt, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaf, and lemon juice in a blender and purée until smooth, about 1 minute.
To make the roast turkey breast, use a syringe to inject the Turkey Brine into the turkey breast in various spots so that the seasoning is evenly distributed throughout both sides of the breast. Cut the broccoli rabe into bite-size pieces. Put the oil in a roasting pan and rub it all over the inside of the pan. Put the broccoli rabe and the onions in the pan. Season with the salt and toss together to mix. Lay the turkey breast over the broccoli rabe. Pour the apple cider into the bottom of the pan. Roast, basting occasionally, for 2 hours, or until the breast is cooked through and the skin is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the turkey breast rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the breast to a cutting board and the broccoli rabe and onions to a serving platter. Slice the turkey and arrange over the broccoli rabe to serve family style.