My DIY Blog xmas special: Turkey, part 3

Not much of a surprise that I had to post-pone writing the final part until christmas day, was just too stuffed with all the OM-NOM-NOM food and belgian ale ;).. And, having spent the better part of christmas eve slaving over the dinner, sitting down to write this wasn’t exactly “priority 1” either.

Roasting finale

On to the actual project details, a quick recap from part 2: The roasting was done in a fan oven, first 30 minutes in 180°C, then dropping down to 140°C and roasting until inner thigh temperature reached 62°C. During the latter, the turkey was covered with tin foil and shortly taken out of the oven every 45 minutes to be basted with pan drippings. Then came the long-awaited moment: BACON TIME \:D/

Mmmm, bacon

Bacon, the highlight of any food project?

Once turkey was covered with bacon, I added pear halves to the pan and continued roasting and basting until thigh temperature reached 68°C. The pears did add a little to the pan drippings, as the garlic, onion and celery were but charred remains at this point. Finally:

All done, looking good..

All done, looking good..

..but let's have one angled shot to verify things!

..but let’s have one angled shot just to drool over it a while!

In hindsight it might’ve been a good idea to pin down the more vertically installed slices of bacon eg. with toothpicks, as they had trouble staying put. Also the bacon placement could’ve been more dense, as cracks appeared between slices once they started shrinking in the heat. All in all, the roasting took slightly over 4.5 hours. Then, I left the turkey to cool down for a while before carving.

Gravy

I simply can’t be arsed to write the entire instructions for the gravy, so just check them from the original recipe if you find it of interest. To briefly sum up the process, pears and onions from the roasting pan are purée’d, sifted pan juices boiled with pear cider in one kettle and roux / broth / herbs prepared in another one. These are then combined to form the gravy which is sifted for serving.

Pan drippings sifting in progress.

Sifting pan drippings (juices) in progress.

To separate the grease from the pan juices, I put it outside to cool down after sifting. Grease then stiffens on top and can be simply peeled away.

O_o Fancy separation process O_o

Four pear halves and onions from the pan transform into purée.

Four pear halves and onions from the pan get transformed into purée.

After I had started cooking the roux, my wife was kind enough to point out that my tool of choice (teflon-coated frying pan) was not a good one for whisking. Brief “d‘oh!” followed by a swap to regular pan, and the broth and herbs were ready to be mixed in. We were all out of chicken broth, so vegetable broth was used instead.

Roux cooking in progress.

Roux cooking in progress, pan fail imminent.

Cider and pan juices about to be boiled.

Final gravy, simmering underway.

Near-complete gravy, simmering underway.

After letting to simmer for about 20 minutes, the gravy was ready for sifting and serving.

End results

Finally getting down to carving, it turned out that the thighs weren’t fully cooked. Breast however was, so we served that instead. And it was damn juicy too, the meat had a hint of fruity flavor even without the gravy! Success enough for me :)

Thighs were cut off and roasted separately for an additional hour in 150°C wrapped in tin foil. Then, they were served as christmas present to the dogs of my mom and sister. Despite thoroughly cooked at this point, all of us were just too stuffed up with all the other food.

I found it slightly weird that checking the thighs after roasting, the juices were clear (when either one was poked with a toothpick) yet when carved open, the innermost part of the flesh was still red. Too short a toothpick then? Whatever the case, this got me into studying a bit what went wrong.

First, the thermometer. It certainly wasn’t touching a bone but comparing the placement to instructions (such as this clip) I had it inserted in a higher, more vertical angle. Not sure how much this might affect the readings, if at all.. You can see the thermometer in the first picture of this post, it’s the black cord on the right side.

Second, the temperature. The thermometer clip above suggests that thigh temperature should be around 82°C, but to me this sounds like way too dry a turkey. Checking the website of  Evira (the Finnish Food Safety Authority), they recommend that poultry should be cooked to 75°C in order to kill salmonella and other bacteria. In this regard, the temperature recommended by the original recipe certainly is wrong. Lucky for us the turkey was domestic and this translates to near-zero risk of salmonella, thanks to various pre-emptive monitoring processes and regulations governed by Evira. According to one of their studies (pdf, finnish only), beef/pork products have a higher salmonella percentage than poultry does.

Regardless of all of the above, I’m definitely going to put more practice into preparing a turkey at some later occasion. This should definitely include a longer brining period (say, day or two) and perhaps some beer-based recipe ;)

That’s all, merry christmas!

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