We have had a taste of spring here, and just in time. It was 74 degrees yesterday! I got to take a nice walk, in the sun and the warmth. It was so nice! I was beginning to go stir crazy, cooped up in the apartment all winter.
Mama bird and her husband are out of town, leaving me alone this past Sunday, so no big blow-out meal to report about. I think I'll be eating kind of lightly this week, cooking for yourself can sometimes feel silly. Like a hassle really. You get the same amount of dishes and pots dirty, but only one person to feed. Seems like a waste of energy. That and I really really hate washing dishes.
I started painting again. Watercolors. I'm not very good, but it's fun. I seem to paint lakescapes mostly. The lake is right outside my window, so I suppose that makes sense. It would make more sense if the paintings looked anything like the lake.
But it's something to do, and more fun than watching TV.
Since I'm not cooking a big meal, I will give you a big recipe. Thank the good commenters at FailBlog for inspiring me to post this.
Herb Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy
8 quarts cold water
2 cups coarse kosher salt
8 large fresh or dried bay leaves
2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
2 Tablespoons whole allspice
1 16-17 lb turkey, giblets removed, neck reserved
Herb Butter And Gravy
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 and 1/2 sticks)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups apple cider
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons Calvados (or other apple brandy)
2 large granny smith apples, quartered and cored
2 large onions, quartered
1 cup apple cider
TO BRINE THE TURKEY: Line extra-large pot or bowl with two 13-gallon or larger plastic bags, one inside the other. (You may want to get a brand new kitchen waste basket or maybe a 5 gallon bucket to use for this.) Combine 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until salt dissolves. Remove from heat. Add one quart cold water and cool to lukewarm. Pour into plastic bags; mix in remaining 6 quarts water. Wrap turkey neck and refrigerate. Submerge turkey in brine to cover completely, gathering bags tightly to eliminate any air; tie bags closed. Refrigerate turkey in brine in pot (bowl, container, whatever) for at least 18 hours and up to 20 hours.
Line a large roasting pan with 4 layers of paper towels. Remove turkey from brine and drain well; discard brine. Place turkey in prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
FOR HERB BUTTER AND GRAVY: Mix the parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup of the herb mixture to another small bowl and mix in 1/2 cup butter.
Combine broth and apple cider in a heavy large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Pour broth reduction into a bowl. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter insame saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir one minute. Whisk in broth reduction, then cream, Calvados, and remaining herb mixture. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until gravy base is thickened and reduced to 2 &3/4 cups, whisking often, about 20 minutes. Cool gravy base slightly.
TO ROAST THE TURKEY: Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees Remove turkey from roasting pan and drain any accumulated juices from main cavity. Discard paper towels from roasting pan. Melt herb butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Brush bottom of roasting pan with some herb butter. Return turkey to prepared pan. Tuck wing tips under, tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Place some apple quarters and onion quarters in main cavity. Brush remaining herb butter over turkey; sprinkle with pepper. Scatter remaining apple and onion quarters in pan. Add turkey neck to pan. I told you this was a big recipe.
Roast turkey one hour. Baste with 1/2 cup apple cider. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste with remaining 1/2 cup cider. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of turkey registers 175 degrees, basting every 30 minutes with pan juices and covering breast loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 2 hours longer (3 &1/2 total). Transfer turkey to platter and let stand for at least 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).
Discard apples, onions, and turkey neck from pan. Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup; spoon off fat from surface. Pour degreased juices into gravy base and bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon and is reduced to 3 &1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season gravy to taste with pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy.
Note: If you have followed all these instructions, your kitchen should be a disaster zone and every pot, pan, and bowl in the house should have been used at least once. And your family damned well better do the dishes for you!
-Little Bird is STILL organizing