No-fuss roast turkey: How a pizza stone changes everything
A perfect turkey is “not easy to come by,” said Lan Lam in Cook’s Illustrated. Over the years, we’ve jumped through hoops trying to cook the thighs through without drying out the tender breast. Turning the bird midway does help, but that’s awkward. Is there a better solution?
This year, we discovered we could skip the flip and concentrate heat on the underside of the bird by placing the roasting pan on top of a preheated pizza stone. Besides cooking the dark meat more quickly, the focused heat creates a “super concentrated” base for gravy. As before, we dry-brine the turkey for flavor and succulence, and rub the bird with baking powder so the skin browns to a delicious crisp.
Recipe of the week
Easy roast turkey with gravy
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 tsp sugar
12- to 14-lb turkey, neck and giblets reserved
2½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp baking powder
Small onion, chopped fine
Carrot, sliced thin
5 sprigs fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
5 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup dry white wine
Combine 4 tbsp salt and 4 tsp sugar in a bowl. Place turkey breast side up. Using fingers, loosen skin covering breast and legs. Rub 4 tsp of salt-sugar mix under skin of each breast half, 2 tsp under skin of each leg, and the rest inside the cavity. Tuck wings behind back; tie legs together with twine. Place turkey on wire rack; refrigerate, uncovered, 24 to 48 hours.
At least 30 minutes before roasting, adjust oven rack to lowest position, set baking stone on rack, set roasting pan on baking stone, and heat oven to 500. Combine 1½ tsp oil and baking powder in a small bowl. Pat turkey dry; rub evenly with oil mixture. Cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil.
Remove hot pan from oven; drizzle in remaining oil. Place turkey breast side up in pan; set pan on stone in oven. Lower heat to 425; roast bird 45 minutes. Remove foil, lower heat to 325; roast until a meat thermometer inserted in breast registers 160 and in thigh 175, 1 to 1½ hours. Using spatula, loosen turkey from pan and transfer to carving board; let rest 45 minutes, uncovered, before carving. Serves 10 to 12.
For the gravy: With a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits from pan. Strain bits and drippings through fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Transfer to fat separator; let rest 10 minutes. Save 3 tbsp fat and reserve defatted juices (add water if needed to make 1 cup liquid). Heat fat in saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add neck and giblets; cook until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes, then transfer to large plate. Reduce heat to medium; add onion, carrot, parsley sprigs, and bay leaves to pan; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until fat coats flour, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in reserved liquid; cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in wine and 3¼ cups water. Return neck and giblets to pan. Simmer 10 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste. Discard neck. Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids; transfer to warm serving bowl.
A new twist on leftovers
“This is an ideal way to use leftover turkey,” said Pati Jinich in Mexican Today (Rux Martin). Just simmer shredded meat in a spicy, citrusy Yucatán pibil–style sauce for a delicious stew to serve over rice or potatoes. Better yet, tuck it into tortillas with red onion and pickled cabbage for “the tastiest day-after tacos ever.”
½ lb tomatoes • ¼ red onion • 3 garlic cloves • ½ tsp kosher salt • 2 cups chicken broth • 2 tbsp canola oil • ¼ cup each fresh grapefruit juice, orange juice, and lime juice • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar • ½ tsp dried oregano • ¼ tsp allspice • 1∕8 tsp cumin • black pepper • 2 tbsp chopped achiote paste (bar form) • 6 cups shredded cooked turkey
• Preheat broiler. Broil tomatoes, onion, and garlic on baking sheet until tops char, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over and broil another 4 to 5 minutes, until skins completely char; tomatoes should be very soft. Remove from heat.
• Cool tomatoes, then quarter them; place in blender with pan juices. Peel garlic; add with onion, salt, and 1 cup broth to blender; puree. In a casserole, warm oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Pour in puree, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 7 to 8 minutes. In blender, combine fruit juices, vinegar, oregano, allspice, cumin, pepper to taste, achiote, and 1 cup broth; puree. Stir mixture into tomato sauce; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in turkey and cook, uncovered, until meat absorbs most of the sauce, about 5 minutes. Serves 4 to 5.
Wine: Three $20 reds
For the best wine values, turn to Europe, said Eric Asimov in The New York Times. While U.S. vintners focus on styles in high demand, the Old World never runs dry of lesser-known grapes and vintners.
2012 Quintessence de Peybonhomme ($20). “Mouth-filling, lightly tart, and absolutely refreshing,” this merlot blend is made by a biodynamic producer in a little-known Bordeaux region.
2014 Roagna Dolcetto d’Alba ($18). Italy’s dolcetto grape is often an alsoran behind nebbiolo and barbera, but that’s why this delicious red— “direct, honest,” and “refreshingly bitter”—is such a good value.
2013 Domaine Nicolas Gonin Persan Mondeuse ($20). Two rare grapes, persan and mondeuse, combine in a red from eastern France that’s both distinctive and an “utter joy”—“fresh, honest and slightly funky,” with “warm flavors of red fruits and herbs.”