Thursday, December 27, 2007


My sister thinks that Emeril is not a chef. I don't know why. This recipe, alone, validates his credentials. I used his gravy recipe for the first time last year. There are other sites that call it "make ahead gravy," but I think he was the first to post it. This year I decided to follow his turkey recipe as well, and I'm glad I did. It was easy and delicious. If you want his original recipe, it's on the Food Network website. I'm posting the recipe as I've adapted it. Since I'm not into photography much, as always, when I have company, I forget to take a pic. I took the above photo the next day. The filling that's on top of the turkey is a separate recipe that I'll be posting probably tomorrow.

Emeril's Big Bird with Giblet Gravy, Adapted
INGREDIENTS: 1 (14 - 14.5 lb.) turkey, thawed
Giblets, neck and liver reserved for gravy (I used the giblets and liver for the filling, and only the neck for the gravy)
1/2 - 3/4 cup Kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves)
1 bay leaf
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened (I used Smart Balance)\
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider (I used 1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate + 1/4 cup water)
1 recipe Giblet Gravy, recipe follows

DIRECTIONS: Completely thaw frozen turkey for 3-4 days in refrigerator. On 4th day, remove wrapping, take out neck, giblets and liver. Remove any ice crystals that remain in cavity. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water. Liberally salt with kosher salt, inside and out, including neck, giblets and liver. Place in pan in fridge for 1 hour. After 1 hour, fill a clean sink with very cold water and place turkey in the clean cold water. Clean out cavity and rub skin with water. Drain sink. Rinse turkey again inside and out with cold water. Drain. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Refrigerate, covered till ready to bake. (I did this on Christmas Eve, and loosely covered the turkey with several layers of plastic wrap and put it in the coldest part of the fridge. I also cut off the wings, since the turkey was too big for the 5 of us and no one was going to eat the wings anyway. I made a nice turkey stock with the wings which will be the basis of my dinner tonight which is turkey soup with cut up turkey meat. I also cut up all the veggies to stuff the inside of the turkey with, added the herbs and put everything in a plastic baggie on top of the turkey in the fridge. That was one less thing I had to do on Christmas Day.)

When ready to roast turkey, preheat oven to 400F and fit a roasting rack inside of a roasting pan. Take the turkey out of the oven and pat it dry again, inside and out, because it will have weeped more liquid. Place turkey in roasting pan breast side up on rack. Season the inside of the turkey with 1/2 tsp. of the sea salt and 1/2 tsp. of the black pepper. Transfer the contents of the plastic baggie into the turkey cavity. Secure turkey legs with twine. Rub the turkey skin with butter (or Smart Balance) and sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper (or adjust to your taste, adding more or less). Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove turkey from oven. Combine the chicken broth and apple cider or juice and baste the top of the turkey evenly with 1/3 of the liquid. Return turkey to oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and cook for an additional 2-1/4 to 2-3/4 hours, basting twice more during this time with the remaining chicken-apple liquid. The turkey should be a nice golden brown color, and the juices should run clear when you insert the tip of a knife at the joint of the leg and thigh. An instant read thermometer inserted into the joint of the leg and thigh, without touching a bone, should register 165F when the turkey is cooked through. (If the turkey begins to look too browned, cover the top loosely with aluminum foil until it is done. Note: I had to tent the turkey for the last 1-1/2 hours.) Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and place it directly on the cutting board, cover it with foil, tucking it in at the bottom, then with an old clean bath towel. Let it sit so that the juices settle and it finishes cooking for at least 1/2 hour. (I let mine sit for an hour, and it was perfect.) You will have plenty of pan juices and drippings to work with, and you can add them to the gravy that you should have made the day before (as I did).

(Note, last year I made this as is and it was exceptional. This year, I needed the giblets and liver for the filling, but am happy to say that the end gravy was still delicious. This is a very easy and really good gravy and I love making it the day before. It's one less thing to do on Christmas Day.)
INGREDIENTS: 1 Tbsp. butter + 2 tsp. olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp. Smart Balance)
Giblets, liver and neck from 1 turkey (I used neck only)
1 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped cleery
1/3 cup peeled and chopped carrot
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 tsp. flour
1/4 cup dry white wine, drinking quality
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 sprig fresh thyme
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS: In a medium sized heavy pot, melt the butter and olive oil (or Smart Balance) over medium-high heat. Add giblets, liver and neck, (or just neck) and brown, stirring if needed, 4-5 minutes. Add veggies and garlic and saute an additional 5 minutes, or till veggies are soft. Stir in flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, stirring to incorporate any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth, thyme sprig and any reserved juices from the bottom of the roasting pan, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Strain, discarding all but the smooth gravy. Adjust seasoningss with salt and pepper. If making this the day before, refrigerate overnight. After turkey is cooked, add turkey pan drippings to pot with gravy, bring to boil, stir and strain again if necessary. (If you decide to add the pan juices as well as the drippings, you will need to add more flour. I saved the pan juices to mix with soup stock for added flavor.)

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