Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 22, 2011

Pastured Turkey for the Holidays

Pastured, heritage breed turkeys are a thing of beauty and a holiday centerpiece which will live in the hearts of those at your table for years to come. Pastured, heritage breed turkeys are more succulent and more flavorful than their commercially raised counterparts. Pastured, heritage breed turkeys are also leaner and stringier than their unfortunate factory-farmed counterparts.

Never fear! There’s a good solution out there for the tricky, yet delicious bird for your holiday table. You’ve invested good coin, here’s the return on that investment. You may not have Norman Rockwell crisp skin on your bird, but you’ll have the light and dark meat of your dreams if you follow one or another of the methods below.

Easy, Slow Braising

Turkey Stock:

1 giblet bag

1 onion stuck with 2 whole cloves

1 stalk of celery

1 carrot

leek trimmings

mushroom trimmings

parsley stems

6 black peppercorns

7 cups water

For the turkey:

1 pastured, heritage breed turkey

2 onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 bulb garlic, each clove peeled

4 TBSP butter or olive oil

Put all the stock ingredients in a 2-3 quart saucepan. Bring them to the boil and reduce to a seethe (the water moves just below the surface, very gently). Allow this to cook for a couple of hours. Top up the stock with water as evaporation takes its toll. Strain the stock.

Preheat the oven to 275°. Toss the veggies to go in the pan with the turkey in 2 TBSP of the butter. Wipe  your turkey dry and season it with salt and pepper, and an extra swipe with the butter or oil. Place the veggies in the pan, and the turkey on them set so that one of its wing sides is up. Lay a large piece of parchment over the turkey. Cover the pan tightly with foil and let it cook for an hour. Pull the pan out. Rotate the turkey 180° so that the opposite wing side is up. Use the parchment to shield the turkey from direct contact with the foil cover. Tighten up the foil cover and let her go another hour. Pull the foil off. Turn the bird breast side up and let it finish out its cook time. Internal reading for the thigh (not touching bone): 190°. This may take one to two more hours.

Allow the bird to rest for 20 minutes after removing from the oven before carving.

Use the juices in the bottom of the pan, and those pressed out from the braising vegetables, to make your gravy. You may need to add fat to make your roux. Or just whisk a tablespoon of cornstarch into those juices and allow them to bubble for about 5-8 minutes.

Brined  Pastured Heritage Breed Turkey

For the brine:

1 cup salt

1 cup sugar

2 gallons water

Submerge your turkey in the brine of dissolved sugar and salt in water. Allow it to sit there overnight. Weight the turkey down with a heavy plate which fits inside your brining vessel.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Proceed as above, but give the bird only 40 minutes per side before uncovering.

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