Monday, April 25, 2011

Wild Rice Stuffed Turkey Roast - Dinner edition

Today's lunch was leftovers from our Easter meal, so here's the dinner I made for my family-in-law on Friday. Please note, I made WAY too much food. All this was enough for maybe 10-12 people. Also, this recipe is not for the lazy, you need to be ambitious for this!

Working time: 1-1.5 hours
Cooking time: 2.5 hours altogether

5 turkey thighs, bone in
8 servings of cooked, wild rice and brown rice blend (2 cups of uncooked rice, cooked to package instructions, I bought the President's Choice brand)
4 celery stalks, cleaned
2 onions
4 carrots
5 cloves of garlic
2 cups of mushrooms (whichever kind you want, I had white and cremini) diced
1 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of salt
1/2 cup of sugar
fresh or dried rosemary (maybe 1tsp dried, 1 tbsp fresh)
2 tbsp flour

Tools: A sharp knife, a giant bowl, one or two big baking/lasagna trays, kitchen string cut into 15" lengths, cling wrap or parchment paper, a meat mallet, an instant read thermometer, a friend who doesn't get grossed out about raw meat.

Let's do it!

Gravy part 1 and meat prep
Debone the turkey thighs. Make sure you have a sharp knife. I used my chef's knife. If you have a sharpening stone, sharpen the knife before you start. If you don't, use a sharpening steel, followed by the rough underside of a ceramic cup, wipe the side of the blade along it, both sides. In fact, even if you have a sharpening stone, make sure to do this stuff after, too.

Quick tip: If you don't have a sharpening stone and a good knife and you love to cook, save $100 and buy them. A good chef's knife can be purchased for about $80, and it's worth every penny. My mom bought me a Victorinox as a housewarming gift 10 years ago and I use it every day, for everything. Henkel's twin series is also a good brand. DO NOT skimp on this. If you cook a lot, you need to have a good sharp knife. Otherwise, you're going to give yourself a lot of fatigue and random cuts. There's nothing more dangerous than a dull knife when you're working in the kitchen. In terms of the stone, I mean stone. Get the kind that has two sides, a course and fine side, not the sharpening gadgets. This is a heavy block of rock I'm talking about.

Feel along the underside of the meat, you will feel  the meat come apart along the bone. Follow this with your hands. Rip it apart, slide your knife against the bone to cut the meat away at it. Try to get as much meat off the bone in one piece as you can. Leaving a little meat is fine, the stock (coming up later) will be more flavourful.

Use the bones, garlic, 3 of the carrots and celery, and one onion all chopped coarsely to make the stock. Find a container that will fit all of the meat. Pour in the sugar, salt and rosemary. Dissolve with water and put the meat in. Fill the container until the water covers the meat, and stick it in the fridge, covered with cling wrap, or a plate or whatever. This is called brining. Some people say it helps the meat stay moist and juicy. Some people say that's a load of crap. Personally, I find it works, so I always do it.

Peel the leftover carrot and onion and dice finely, into 1/4 inch cubes. Do the same with the celery and mushrooms. Heat some oil in a big wide saucepan or wok and fry everything until the onion is translucent, and the mushrooms are dark and cooked. Mix this with the rice and cranberries.

Put it all together!
Drain and rinse the turkey. Dry it off with some paper towel. One by one, place the meat skin side down on a cutting board, put cling wrap or parchment paper over it and beat the living hell out of it with the mallet, until it's flattened a bit (but not all mashed up and falling apart). One by one, place the turkey thighs lengthwise (tall) in front of you. Get your friend to cover the bottom 2/3 with a thin later of stuffing (they get the clean job). Press the stuffing down. Roll up the meat and have your friend tie it tight while you hold the roll in place. Put the roll seam down in a baking tray (no grease necessary, it will make enough of its own). Repeat with all the thighs. Make sure you have at least an inch or  two of breathing space between them so they cook evenly. Put the remainder of the stuffing into an ovenproof dish.  Bake the roasts at 350ºF.

After half an hour, I like to turn everything around to make sure it bakes evenly. It's a good idea to keep an eye on the stuff after half an hour, I was using a convection oven and it baked perfectly in an hour. Put the stuffing in when you turn the trays around. All ovens are different, so make sure you check every 15 minutes after the first half hour. They're ready when the thermometer reads 165ºF in the middle. Take them out and move them to the serving dish. Let them sit untouched while you make the gravy. Turn off the oven and let the stuffing (and any sides you made) sit in the hot oven.

Gravy part 2

Quick tip: My mother-in-law showed me the most brilliant way to skim the fat. You put all the stock, juices and fat into a glass dish and let the fat float to the top. Then you take a turkey baster and suck up all the stock and juices and put it in another container, leaving all the fat at the top! Genius!

Pour 2 tbsp of the fat into a saucepan or pot on medium heat. Throw in 2 tbsp of flour and stir around for maybe 4 minutes. Do not let the flour burn. If it's burnt, just start all over. You do NOT want burnt gravy. Pour in the juice/stock mixture in bit by bit, stirring to thicken. Keep going until it's all incorporated. If you're like me, the gravy will be thin at this point, because you don't know how to make thick gravy. But it will taste good, and that's all that matters.

Cut the string off the roasts and slice into medallions. Put the gravy on the table. Bask in the compliments.

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