I stole this recipe.
The victim of my theft calls herself: http://www.theredheadriter.com
So I would be remiss if I didn't include the full text of Red Writer's recipe. Full disclosure: I made some minor changes. All were committed either in response to the yum factor in my genetic makeup, or to laziness. Mostly laziness.
Red's ingredients were ... oh wait, let me tell you why I decided to roast this turkey in the first place, in exactly this way.
Bonnie's employer has an unusual tradition of giving each of its employees a turkey just before the Thanksgiving holiday. I know, I know, not unusual, but quite common, you say. Then why in my four decades of employment by over a dozen employers, have I had just one such turkey given to me? I have either discovered a flaw in the assumption that the practice is common, or there is a conspiracy against me. Naturally I side with option one.
But this particular turkey on this particular Thanksgiving was superfluous; we had Thanksgiving out of town. And while I love the fact that salmonella has diddly squat to do with salmon, I am risk-averse to those creepy little bacterium. So a four hundred mile transport of the bleeping bird just was not in the cards.
And thus it made its very short trip to our freezer. It remained there until this last Wednesday evening when, according to those clever little turkey thawing tables, a thirteen and a half pound turkey (don't laugh!) ought to begin its long thaw in anticipation of a Saturday morning roast.
But I must digress further still. In anticipation of acquiring this mass of low calorie meat, some two weeks or so ago, I started to consider ways in which I might put the protein by in small quantities for future recipes. Honestly, sliced off the bone turkey breast, thighs, and drumsticks do not leave me with any sense of anticipation, much less culinary creativity. The only reason the roast turkey has survived two plus centuries of American holiday tradition is because the holidays are really about the anticipation of watching Uncle Ed fumble his drunken rendition of politics and/or religion upon an aghast audience. You pretty much must have bland food to counter the dramatic hilarity.
But turkey meat is lean, and (as long as you spice it up to hide its incomparable blandness) it's delicious! I must not let these innocent nutrients go to waste. But to "put the meat by" (a nineteenth century phrase if I ever heard one), I decided I wanted the meat to be moist (right? moist turkey...?), and I didn't want to spend a week cutting it off the bone (and losing two pounds of viable meat mass in the bargain). So I needed fall-off-the-bones meat, with enough infused moisture to sink in Archimedes' bathtub.
The Crock Pot!!
What a concept. And I found recipes galore with the help of Uncle Google. I started salivating immediately and considered crossing this recipe with that, this concoction with the other. I was in my personal culinary heaven. And then a few days after Thanksgiving, when the perfect timing was approaching (Bonnie being out of town) for cleverly creative cookery, I happened upon an online article proclaiming: "Do not EVER slow cook a turkey!!!" Subtitled: "You may die."
Upon reflection, this made perfect sense (see salmonella reference above). As I am risk-averse to death (and liability-averse to the death of others), I decided to explore other options.
And then, I found Redhead's recipe. Cue the ingredients:
21 pound fresh, whole turkey
10 bay leaves
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground celery seed
3 strips lemon zest
32 ounces chicken broth
As I had a thirteen and a half pound turkey to work with, I opted to ... leave the ingredients exactly as they were. That is, except for the ingredients I increased.
I will now faithfully and without (much) commentary, quote in whole, Redhead's instructions:
Remove the turkey’s legs from the plastic clip. Don’t ruin the plastic clip and you don’t have to completely separate it from the bird (For the record, Butterball saved $10 million this year by doing away with the plastic clip). Just take the legs out of it. Now inside the cavity of the turkey, you will find a bag of innards such as the liver and heart.
Take the bag out of the turkey cavity. You will also find the turkey neck. Be sure to pull it out too. Do not discard all this stuff (they're currently in my fridge, awaiting god knows what fate).
Now turn the cold water on high and rinse the turkey. Fill the cavity full of water and rinse the innards too. Let the water drain from the turkey while you prepare the pan. In a large roasting pan, line the bottom with a large sliced onion. (due to my risk-averse nature, I did this stuff way before I took the bird from its refrigerated snooze).
Now comes the really fun part…It’s the artistic part of cooking a turkey. Use the prettiest bay leaves you have in the container (I love art. This isn't art - but they are pretty).
Add bay leaves under the skin. Carefully separate the turkey skin from the breast meat using your fingertips to avoid ripping the skin. Softly and gently separate. That’s the key to prevent(ing) the ripping of the skin (good advice; it worked).
Very carefully arrange the bay leaves between the skin and breast meat. You can make a design or just lay them under the skin (you can't really see the friggin things, so forget making a design - trust me). Now put a bay leaf inside the cavity on one end and a couple bay leaves in the other end (the cavities interconnect, so use your throwing arm, and do this in one fell swoop).
(Bay leaves, before and after - Oh wow!!)
Cut an onion in quarters and put it inside the turkey cavity.
In a separate bowl combine pepper, salt, dried parsley, basil, thyme, garlic, cumin, and ground celery seed (I kept the garlic separate because I didn't used dried garlic [really, who the f*** does???]. And half a teaspoon of garlic??? Really??? Please; it isn't garlic unless at least three cloves have met their demise).
Now add the chicken broth to the pan around the turkey. Peel off three (or eight) medium size pieces of lemon zest.
Put one in the broth at one end of the turkey and put the other two in the cavity at the other end or in the broth (it makes a lot more sense to do this before adding the broth - I added the zest at the same time I added the bay leaves!).
(Red forgot to mention that the turkey needs to be trussed up again before roasting. I love trussing up a bird!)
Put the lid on tightly (Lid? I don't have a %#@* lid. Foil will have to do).
Bake in a preheated 450 degree Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes (don't forget to leave a spot in this hermetic seal to stick your temperature probe in!). Reduce the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and cook until done – approximately 4 hours for a 21 pound turkey. Do not peek or open the aluminum foil. Just trust me and bake it 12 minutes per pound.
It's been in the oven all but 17 minutes according to my calculations and the Mayan calendar. I've dropped the temperature to 325 degrees as directed. My calculations tell me
that means I'm nearing the moment of truth when I must put up or shut up!
I'll keep you posted.