Turkey tips from Chef Stanley Townsend ‘Tis the season to cook a turkey

Buying a bird

Buy a utility-grade turkey (slightly damaged during processing) as they’re usually cheaper. Estimate one pound raw turkey per person.

Defrosting

Option 1: Thaw in a refrigerator. Leaving the turkey wrapped, place it in a drip-free pan on the bottom shelf. Thawing may take three days.

Option 2: Thaw in cold water. Leaving the turkey wrapped, place in a large sink, periodically changing water. Allow one hour per pound to defrost.

Brining

Brining your turkey overnight will result in better flavour and moistness.

4 L cold water

1 cup coarse salt

½ cup brown sugar

Chopped onions and herbs of choice

Heat water, salt and sugar until dissolved. Cool brine.

Place turkey breast side down. Cover with brine. Refrigerate or put in small cooler and store at 0-5C for 8-12 hours.

Cooking the turkey

Remove giblets and neck; use to make stock while turkey cooks.

Dry turkey and place quartered onion and herbs in cavity. Place turkey in a large roasting pan. Leave turkey legs open while cooking for consistent cooking.

Cook at 350F for about 20 minutes per pound. Use a thermometer to test for doneness (170F).

After removing turkey from pan, rest for half an hour. Pour turkey drippings into a clear measuring cup. Freeze drippings for a half hour.

Gravy

Discard congealed fat, but keep the clear drippings. Heat drippings in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan on medium heat until melted.

Stir in an equal amount of flour, making a thick paste. Cook for 5 minutes.

Whisk in turkey stock. Bring to boil, then simmer. Gravy should coat the back of a spoon. If needed, thin gravy with stock or water. Season as required.

Bread stuffing

1 loaf bread, diced and dried

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

¾ cup butter or margarine

1 tbsp poultry seasoning

1 cup turkey or chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté celery and onions in butter over medium heat until soft. Add poultry seasoning, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add broth. Place in oiled baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350F for 30–45 minutes. Cook stuffing separately (better food safety and quicker).

Turkey broth

1 turkey carcass

2 carrots and 1 onion, roughly chopped

Fresh or dried rosemary and thyme, season to taste

2 bay leaves

½ bunch of parsley

Put all ingredients into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, skimming residue from the top. Simmer for an hour, then strain and use for gravy or soup.

Sierra Bilton

Sierra is a Communications student specializing in Journalism at MacEwan University. She has a particular love of the art and culture found nestled in Edmonton's Alberta Avenue communities and beyond.

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