Monday, November 22, 2010

Polka Dot Poultry

I cannot remember where I got the idea, probably Food Network, but for the last few years I have been making my turkey this way and, not to toot my own horn, its the best turkey I've ever had.

This is a great way to prep some ahead of time, 2+ days before Turkey Day, even longer if you'd like. Prevents having to prep/chop herbs day of.

Roasted Turkey with Herb Medallions

Make The Herb Butter:

Chop fresh herbs, normally thyme, rosemary and sage but I will be omitting the sage this year (MIL is allergic). More or less depending on how much butter.

Mix into 1-3 cubes softened, but not melted butter(or margarine, margarine slices better), add smashed garlic if you like, (I can't this year, allergic aunt). More or less if your bird is bigger or smaller and if you will be using some for stuffing or not.

Place the butter/herb mixture into a quart or gallon size freezer Ziploc. (The log shown below was a gallon size.)

Squish the butter to the bottom of the bag to form a log.

Refrigerate for at least a day so the flavor can really mature. (if you must, its ok to skip this step)

Freeze the log at least the night before Turkey Day, sooner if preferred, I've done it a week ahead of time before.

Prep Bird:
Thaw, (ideally you would have done this plenty ahead of time) make kid sister remove extra parts from cavity, (not that its hard, its just fun to watch her face!) rinse/dry off.
Gently slide your hand, your kid sisters hand, or both, between the skin and the meat all over the top and sides of your gobbler. Try not to tear the skin, you don't want any moisture escape paths.
Polka Dot Your Poultry:
Remove the frozen butter log from the Ziploc (cut the bag away if needed) and cut into slices, about 1/4 to a 1/3 of an inch thick, creating disks or medallions. Using real butter, its harder to slice thin, I have used both margarine and butter, and both taste very good.
Slide the medallions between the skin and meat, polka-dotting the bird. Save a few medallions for the inside and, if preferred, for sauteing veggies for your stuffing/dressing.
(you can see the medallions poking up through the skin in this picture)

In the cavity, place 1 small/medium onion (if no one is allergic), quartered, a few celery stalks and carrots, cut to fit. and a few more medallions.
We also like to add 2 fresh satsuma mandarin oranges, halved.

Cook Your Polka Dotted Poultry:

Roast in the oven according to standard turkey cooking guidelines for weight. I have had great success using Reynold's Oven Bags (their website offers great turkey cooking tips and information,) and an extra large disposable foil roasting pan. no basting necessary. Follow the directions to prep the bag on the package.
its not necessary to have a pajama party the night before Thanksgiving, but it does help to have little sisters to do the heavy lifting for you. Prep the oven bag per instructions, and insert prepped bird.

If you prefer, you can cook however you like, tenting with foil to prevent too much skin browning, basting with drippings, whatever works for you.

Be sure to allow 15-20 mins rest after removing from oven before carving, so the juices don't run out.

The Turkey will come out polka-dotted with herb circles, looks fun. the skin gets crisp and its almost impossible to keep helping aunts away from picking at it. (I'm sure this is why they offer to help)

and I failed at remembering to take a picture of the finished bird. oh well. it was delicious! (even without the garlic, sage, or onions.

Btw, this bird yeilded over 6 cups of super delicions drippings for gravy making! No need to add any fat to make gravy.

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