Roasted Turkey - Epiphany 2015

One day I woke up in the morning and as I was walking in front of the fire place I saw a beautiful turkey sitting in it. It was plucked and nearly ready to roast in the oven. I also saw a nice size Christmas Pudding sitting by the turkey. And I said " Oh my God did Santa make a second run just for me?? So I thanked him, counted my blessing and continued on. I told my wife and daughter who were very happy and decided we would have it for Epiphany Day on January 6th just the three of us.  It is not very often that you have a whole turkey just for yourself. Usually it is for many guests such as relatives and friends and you end up eating a bite or two, or too tired to eat after all the cooking...

The Brine

I have learned from reading various cook books and watching cooking videos that to make a successful turkey worth eating, you MUST brine it for at least 24 hours before roasting  s.

Due to the present financial state of life in Greece we have stopped stuffing the turkey because the way we usually do it is very rich and expensive plus the fact that you add so many more calories to your meal. more stuffing until further notice.

Now what do I mean by brining. It means that the whole turkey is immersed in a bucket with water where salt, sugar, and many other herbs and spices have been added. For all intensive purposes we will talk only about water, sugar, and salt.

When a turkey is brined its flesh (specially the breast) becomes more tender and juicy.

For this 4.5 kg turkey 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of sugar were added; nothing else.

  • Choose a big empty bucket which contained food in its earlier life from a delicatessen near by which is of no use to them, wash it well with vinegar and dish soap until it is completely odourless. Let it dry out in the sun for a few days, then wash it again from the dust. This will be your bucket for brining, curing and any other marinating you will need for big pieces of meat.
  • You place your turkey inside and let the tap water flow until it is covered with water.
  • Now, take the turkey away, leaving the water inside the bucket.
  • Add the salt, sugar and stir well till both dissolve. 
  • Now add the turkey with something heavy to keep it immersed in the water.
  • Refrigerate for at least 24 hours depending on the size of the turkey. Temperature should be between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius constantly.
  • After the time has elapsed, take out turkey, wash well under running water inside and out, set on a platter and dry completely with kitchen paper. Pour out all the brining liquid.

Make sure you wash everything that came in contact with the turkey with bleach or chlorine to disinfect from any Salmonella that may arise.

Preparation of the turkey:

We decided to roast it in a dutch-oven or ghastra with a cover as we Greeks know it for all its cooking time at 160 degrees Celsius ( usually 45 minutes per kilo).

  • 1 turkey about 4.5 kg with gizzards. 
  • 2 medium big carrots thinly sliced with  mandolin. 
  • 3 inches worth of fresh ginger root thinly sliced.
  • 2 big juicy oranges.
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme.
  • 1/2 Green bell pepper cut in long thin strips (Julienne). 
  • 1/2 Yellow bell pepper cut in long thin strips (Julienne).
  • 1 T garlic powder.
  • 1 T black pepper. 
  • 15 gr fresh butter melted.

  • Press the two oranges to get the juice.
  • Take out neck, liver and stomach and keep in the refrigerator for later when it is time to make the gravy (optional).
  • Lay turkey on its breast, brush butter over and under the skin as far as possible careful not to break it.
  • Add salt and pepper, bell peppers, garlic powder, and thyme. 
  • Overturn turkey, lay it on its back, and continue the same procedure as before. 
  • Pour orange juice.
  • Stuff the hollow part of the turkey with the four pressed oranges and with the remaining thyme.
  • Lay some slices of ginger on the breast as well. That is where your personal ingenuity comes in.
  • Now over turn the turkey back on its breast down and back up and start cooking at 160 degrees static.
  • Set timer at 3 hours as follows 45 minutes x 4.5 kg = 202 minutes= 3 hours and 22 minutes.
  • When the 3 hours have gone by with the turkey cooking in the Dutch Oven, uncover, set turkey in a shallow pan with its back facing upwards, brush some butter,  increase temperature to 200 degrees Celsius with grill on for 10 minutes, then back on its back, more brushed butter and 10 minutes. 
  • Take out from oven, set on cutting board and put an aluminum foil tent over it for 30 minutes before carving.

The Gravy:

  • Transfer all dripping and juices from the Dutch Oven to a sauce pan , 
  • Use a vertical mixer to blend all solids into a pure.
  • Strain the sauce keeping only the liquid part. All solids to be thrown away or you keep for some other food in the freezer.
  • Add the left over gravy (which was in the deep freeze) from the smoked turkey cooked a few days ago.
  • Bring to a boil then simmer to bring to the consistency required.
  • Serve with the turkey pieces.

Needless to say that the turkey was deliciously moist, the meat fell off the bone.



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