Thursday, February 4, 2010

Roast turkey with braised brussel sprouts

Has anyone seen that Perdue commercial about the mom who has "roasterphobia"?

See this if you haven't.

Anyways, the premise is that roasting poultry is SO scary and hard to do, and now Perdue has come in with its pop up timer to make sure that we never have to think again.

Boo to the pop up timer! Roasting is NOT THAT HARD. I swear. You must try it- preferably with some good turkey breast. I bought my kosher split turkey breast from Trader Joe's. It comes presoaked and salted (think- brined), which helps keep it juicy.

Nigella is the one who helped me understand the key to good roast chicken/turkey. You should
read this:

It will teach you the basics in such a conversational and easy to understand way. It's more than just recipes- it's part-diary, part-encyclopedia, part-cookbook. It's my go-to guide for most cooking modern Joy of Cooking (a book I don't own and probably won't ever).

At any rate, I could discuss my girl-crush on Ms. Lawson ad nauseum, but I'll move onto the turkey.

Roast chicken basics: 400 degree oven, 15 minutes per pound + 10 minutes. Use a meat thermometer if you're really skittish- meat should register 165 (the FDA says 180- use your own discretion).

You'll need the following:

Split turkey breast- mine is 2.4 lbs
Olive oil
Sea Salt (I said goodbye to Morton's sometime circa 2003)
Roasting pan with rack
*Note- if you don't have a roasting pan, don't rush out an buy one. If you have a cookie sheet/jelly rolly pan (gotta have some sides to catch the grease) & a cookie cooling rack, you could substitute those. Heck, you could skip the cooling rack altogether and put this turkey directly on the cookie sheet, but the rack will help with the circulation of heat & provide more even roasting.

Here's how I do it:

Before you unwrap the turkey- do this:
Preheat the oven to 400- you will have this turkey breast prepped before the oven is ready to go- it's THAT fast.
Put some oil (eyeball a 1/4 cup) in a bowl. Add a few generous pinches of sea salt and 4-5 grinds of black pepper.

Place bowl inside the roasting pan.

I swear- there is a method to my madness!

THEN, and only then, unwrap the turkey breast and place it on the rack next to the bowl.

Don't bother with rinsing it- I never do.

Why is the olive/salt/pepper paste prepared in advance and placed in the rack?

For ease of use, of course.

Once you touch that raw bird, your hands need to keep off any other surfaces to avoid cross-contamination. With the oil mixture pre-mixed and in the pan, you can scoop/pour/rub the turkey breast to your hearts desire without icking up anything else.

Now, gently separate the skin from the meat. Pour some of the oil/salt/pepper under the skin and rub it around. Pour some on top of the skin and rub that in- pretend you're putting sunscreen on a fair maiden- you want to make sure you cover all the important bits. Now, flip the breast over, and add some of that good oil on the bottom- it needs love, too.

It should look like this when you're done oiling it up:

Move to the sink and scrub those hands BEFORE putting the pan into the oven. I was watching Food Network the other day and Anne Burrell was touching everything with her raw turkey-juiced hands- EW!

After you're cleaned up, place the pan in the middle of the oven, set the timer for 60 minutes and take the dog for a walk.

After coming in from the cold, and once there are about 20 minutes left on the clock, start your brussel sprouts.

I know, who eats brussel sprouts any more? Didn't they go the way of lima bean?

No, and here's why. When prepared properly (read- braised), they.are.delicious. Sublime, even.

Prep ~12 oz. of sprouts. If your brussel sprouts are large, slice in half. In a large saute pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium until shimmering slightly.

Add brussels.

Let them get some color, stirring occassionally. You want to brown the outside to give them some depth of flavor and bring out their natural nuttiness.

Color on brussel sprouts looks like this:

See that gorgeous sprout in the lower right hand corner? You want that on 80% of the sprouts before you move to the next step.

Once you've achieved proper brussel browning, add ~1/2 cup chicken broth. Immediately cover with the lid and let brussels steam and get tender for 5-10 minutes.

Uncover, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, and add a pat of butter (think a tablespoon). This butter step is optional, but it creates a luscious glaze that coats the sprouts and makes them even more irresistible. Scouts Honors.

In the end, the brussel sprouts look like this:

You will like these brussel sprouts, even if you are a skeptic. Even if you don't like food, you will like these sprouts. My mother-in-law, who only loves Cameo cookies, sneaks these out of the pan before dinner.

By now, your turkey should be done. I'd show you a picture of that finished product, but the husband came home and promptly stripped the bird of all it's crunchy skin, leaving it naked and less than photo-ready.

Let turkey breast stand at least 10 minutes before carving to let the juices redistribute- again, this keeps it juicy.

We ate this last night and drank some 2 buck Chuck Cabernet alongside. Very classy, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, you made me want brussel sprouts. Amazing!