Friday, December 9, 2011

A Turkey in Two Hours

The original article from the Tri-City Herald.
Tried and true recipes, dogeared and written-on (try that on an iPad or Smartphone!), are still alive and well in many kitchens.  Years ago I started keeping these gems in a three-ring binder so as not to lose them ... and to experience again and again their consistently wonderful results.

Such a recipe is "A Turkey in 2 Hours" from a long-ago edition of the Tri-City Herald.  The technique is from Chef Wil Masset, then owner and master chef of Birchfield Manor in Yakima.  He is still there, though his son is now the chef and owner. 

My turkey weighed 15 pounds, and was Organic Prairie brand from Fred Meyer.  Blue Valley Meats offered local turkeys, but I didn't decide on the menu this year soon enough to order one from them.  I sincerely miss my former turkey providers, Russ and Laurie Stasska, who moved to North Carolina.  Happy holidays, you two!

from Chef Wil Masset, Birchfield Manor, Yakima

You will need:

  • Turkey
  • Sharp knives
  • Paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Carrots, Celery and Onion

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Position rack low enough so the oven can accommodate the roaster and turkey.  Remember the turkey will be on its side, and thus perhaps a bit higher than if it were lying flat.

Prepare your seasonings and oil in little bowls so you have them all ready for when you begin to massage the turkey. For my 15-pound turkey, I used 2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper, 1/2 cup olive oil, and 5 teaspoons paprika (2 sweet, 2 smoked, and 1 hot).

Cut off the turkey's crop skin at neck, and cut off wings at second joint.  Remove giblets.  I placed the neck in the roasting pan to use in stock.

Place the bird in a large roasting pan on a bed of chopped carrots, celery and onion.

Now, rub the turkey (and the wings) with a mixture of salt, pepper and paprika, inside and out.  Then rub olive oil into the turkey.

Arrange the turkey on its side, propping it up securely with the wings.  Placing the turkey on its side better uses the oven heat and speeds cooking, preserving the moisture in the meat.
Place the prepared turkey on its side.  This is important.
Place bird in oven and roast for about an hour and a half.  At this point (approximately three quarters of the way through the cooking time), carefully turn the turkey over.  Don't use forks or other implements that could pierce the skin and cause a loss of juices.  You can use clean potholders or dishcloths, or large tongs you can clamp between the cavity and the bird's skin surface, while stabilizing the bird using your protected hand on the other end.

Re-stabilize the turkey (remember to place it on its side) with the wings.  You can turn the wings, too.

Return turkey to oven and continue roasting for another half hour to an hour ... until juices run clear when meat is pierced at the thigh joint near the body.  A thermometer placed there should read at least 160 degrees.

My 15-pound turkey, which was completely thawed, took 2-1/2 hours to roast. 

If the breast meat is done but the leg/thigh joint needs more time, you can either cover the breast with foil, or slice off the breast meat, and roast the rest of the bird some more. 

This method produces a juicy, flavorful turkey, and the carcass/bones make a splendid stock.  I used the drippings to make a gravy using almond flour and arrowroot, from a recipe in this cookbook
My thanks to Wil Masset for taking the guesswork out of turkey cooking, thus adding a certain serenity to my holiday meal preparations. 

A 15-pound bird will easily serve 8 to 10 people.

1 comment:

  1. My Dad... I just had someone come up and tell me they've used this recipe since it was published- I believe in the early 80's. She said she still has the old folded bit of paper! Thanks Pops- Greg Masset