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Tips for Great Turkeys

Posted on: November 12th, 2012

Holiday meals are the most special of the year, so this is no time to be guessing or skimping on lesser ingredients! Here are some turkey facts to help you choose the right bird and make it extra special.

Insist on a Fresh, Natural Turkey
This is our most popular turkey; they’re raised naturally without cages, antibiotics, hormones or pesticides in stress-free hen houses which keep them at their ideal temperature, out of the elements and protected from the diseases of wild birds.  They receive a constant supply of fresh water and natural grain feed (both off of the ground), and are humanely treated according to a strict code of Animal Husbandry Ethics from hatch to harvest.

Our turkeys, their foods and their environment are closely tested to assure there are no chemical residues of any kind; the grain for feed is tested, the water is purified and tested, the hen house is sanitized after each group of birds and the ground and new bedding is tested, the
birds are closely checked daily and any sick birds are removed immediately. At harvest time, random samples of internal organs are also tested – all to assure your turkey is free of any chemical residues.
Organic, Kosher and Heirloom Turkeys
We have a limited supply of Organic Certified Turkeys, Kosher Turkeys and Heirloom Turkeys (old world breeds, smaller breasts and lots of dark meat).  Our organic birds taste the same as our all natural birds. Kosher birds are grown, harvested and processed and salt-water brined under Rabbinical supervision.  Heirloom Turkeys are old breeds that taste much like wild birds. Call the store nearest you to order yours, call early, supplies are limited!
Tony’s Poultry and Pork Brines
Heat-n-Serve Turkey Meals
Our complete turkey meals are very popular, there is a choice of a Roasted Turkey Dinner, a Deep Fried Cajun Turkey Dinner, a smaller Turkey Breast Dinner, or just order the side dishes and cook your own!  See them here.
Fully Cooked Turkeys
We try to have plenty extra Roasted Turkeys, Deep Fried Cajun Turkeys and Roasted Turkey Breasts on hand, but supplies are limited, so please call ahead to reserve yours!
Turducken
A boneless chicken inside of a boneless duck inside of a boneless turkey with stuffing, these are delicious and very special.  We have a limited supply available with a choice of three dressings, call ahead to reserve yours.
Brining Turkeys
I avoid ‘pre-brined, basted or enhanced’ turkeys for a variety of reasons (as do most chefs) and choose to brine my own with natural ingredients. Brining seasons a turkey on the inside for extra flavor and juiciness. We have three different ready-to-use recipe packets available:
Traditional, Mulling Spice or Italian, see the video below for instructions on brining and roasting.
Boneless or Spatchcock Turkeys
We can remove the bones of your Tony’s Turkey for stuffing, or Spatchcock (butterfly) for faster cooking for a small fee, call the marketnear you to order.

 

Spatchcock Turkey Before
Meat Thermometers
Spatchcock After – cooks in about 90 minutes.
Perfect cooking is the key to all roasting, so a reliable meat thermometer is one of the most important kitchen tools you can buy! I have had very good luck with the digital models we offer at Tony’s, all have lasted me years and have never needed calibration. If you do need to calibrate your thermometer, test in boiling water and adjust with calibration nut right under
the dial to 202-203° in the Denver Metro area.
Cooking Times
Turkeys need to cook to at least 165° in the deepest part of the thigh for absolute safety, which can leave parts of the leg and thigh pink – or cook to 185° to make sure all the pink is gone, but the bird will be drier.  Estimate cooking time at 15 minutes per pound and allow 30 minutes for resting time – if you are stuffing your bird, add 1 hour one hour cooking time. I suggest padding your serving time with guests just in case things take a little longer.
Stuffing
Stuffing with dressing may be traditional, but it leads to unevenly cooked birds with an overcooked breast and greater bacterial concerns. It is best to roast a turkey unstuffed and to cook the dressing with plenty of natural turkey stock and butter for that ‘stuffed in the bird’ flavor. If you really want to stuff, do so with hot dressing immediately before roasting and
use the inverted method.
Invert for first 2/3 of cooking time for even cooking.
Inverted Roasting
Cooking poultry about 2/3 of the time inverted (breast down) and the last 1/3 with the breast up promotes more evenly cooked turkey and a moister breast. Tips in the video above.
Roasting Bags
Roasting bags shorten cooking times and braise the bird for extra juiciness and tenderness.
Roasting Pans and Racks
A large, heavy roasting pan with a rack is highly recommended, they cook better, are easier to manage and can avoid the potential leaks and spills with foil pans.
Never Ever
Never stuff a bird hours before roasting. Never slow roast overnight. Never stop cooking and resume cooking later. Never cross-contaminate; sanitize all cooking surfaces, tools and towels after the turkey is in the oven. Never deep-fry a partially frozen turkey.
The Ultimate Turkey, Dressing and Gravy Recipe
1 fresh, Natural, Turkey (allow 1-2 lbs per person)
1 bag Tony’s Turkey or Pork & Poultry Brine*
1-2 lbs each onions, celery & carrots
Tony’s Roasted Turkey or Pork & Poultry Rub
Cooking oil spray
1 stick unsalted butter
4-6 cups very low sodium turkey stock
-See *Stock Notes below gravy recipe
Brine turkey the night before according to package directions, if desired. * Estimate roasting time allowing 15 minutes per pound of turkey and 30 minutes for resting time (+ 1 hour if stuffing). 90 minutes before time to roast, rinse and drain – rest at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350°.
Coarsely chop enough veggies to cover the bottom of a heavy roasting pan. Nestle roasting rack and turkey over vegetables. Season bird inside and out with Tony’s Roasted Turkey or Pork & Poultry Rub and mist with oil. Add 2 cups HOT turkey stock to pan and place in the center of preheated oven.
Melt butter with 2-4 cups of stock to make basting jus. Check turkey every 45-60 minutes; baste generously with warm jus to assure the pan doesn’t cook dry. If browning too quickly, tent with foil.
About ¾ way through estimated roasting time, start testing internal temperature in the deepest part of the thigh – your turkey is fully-cooked, perfectly safe and the moistest possible at 165°-175°, but may still have some pink meat and reddish bones – some prefer to roast 180-185° to avoid this.
Remove turkey to a platter, tent with parchment or foil, cover with a towel and rest for 30 minutes. Slice & serve with defatted drippings or gravy.
* Notes:
Brining: Seasons the bird inside and out, increases moistness and aids in browning – optional but highly recommended.
Inverted Roasting: The breast cooks faster than the thighs, so for the moistest breast possible, roast breast down the first 2/3 of cooking time and breast up for last 1/3 – basting and a convection fan will increase breast browning.
Stuffing: Turkeys cook more evenly un-stuffed – if stuffing, do so with HOT dressing immediately before placing in oven. Dressing can be roasted in a separate pan dotted with plenty of butter and doused with rich turkey stock for that “stuffing in the bird” flavor.
Classic Turkey Gravy Recipe
Video Follows
Pan drippings from a roasted turkey
½ – 3/4 cup dry white or rose wine, Vermouth or Madeira
2-4 cups rich, very low sodium Turkey or Chicken Stock
½ – 1 cup Whole Milk or Half & Half
All purpose flour, as needed
Strain turkey drippings into a measuring cup and remove fat. Place roasting pan over a medium-high flame and de-glaze with wine. Add defatted drippings and rich turkey stock to taste (2-4 cups depending on how much gravy you want – please see ‘Stock Notes’ below) and simmer/reduce until the taste is deep and rich.
Allow 1.5 TBS flour for every cup of total liquid. Whisk flour into ½-1-cup COLD milk or half & half until smooth. Temper flour slurry into simmering stock (whisk 1/2-cup hot stock into flour slurry, and then slowly whisk warmed slurry into hot stock). Simmer 5-10 minutes to thicken, whisking regularly. Strain any lumps and serve.
Chef’s Notes: Great gravy demands great pan drippings, see Classic Oven Roasted Turkey recipe and notes for tips. Can also be thickened with cornstarch, arrowroot or Wondra Superfine Flour.
*Stock Notes: Salty stock will lead to salty gravy and dressing – we strongly suggest homemade stock or More Than Gourmet concentrated turkey or chicken stock (Glace de Volaille or Glace de Poulet), they offer lots of natural turkey flavor with VERY low sodium. To make “Rich Stock”, re-hydrate each 1.5 oz pkg of More Than Gourmet stock with 2 cups of water. Homemade Turkey Stock recipe available at www.TonysMarket.com
The Ultimate Turkey Dressing
Chocked full of goodies, there’s something in this dressing
for everybody!
1 pound loaf of bread (Ciabatta preferred)
1 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage
1 stick butter (8 TBS) (see notes*)
8 cups chopped medley of celery, carrots and onion
4-8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups roasted pecans, chopped
1-2 apples, chopped
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 TBS rubbed sage
2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dry or 1 TBS fresh thyme
1 tsp sea salt, separated
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1.5 cups rich low sodium turkey or chicken stock (or as
needed – see notes**)
Cut bread into 1/2-3/4-inch cubes and toast lightly under broiler. Place in a large bowl. Brown sausage in a large skillet, remove with a slotted spoon and add to bread. Melt butter along with sausage drippings in the same skillet, adding 8 cups veggie medley along with 1/2 tsp salt and sauté for 15 minutes. Add to bread along with sliced mushrooms, pecans, fruit and seasonings and toss to combine. Stir eggs in well, and then stir in stock – adjust stock as needed**
Dressing on the side: Place dressing into two large buttered casserole dishes, dot with additional butter* or mist with oil. Spread butter on parchment paper and tent dressing. Roast until hot and lightly encrusted (for a softer finish, cover with foil before roasting).
Stuffed Turkey: Heat dressing in the microwave and gently stuff into turkey immediately before roasting, any extra dressing can be roasted on the side. –Chef Michaelangelo (mick) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com —
www.TonyRosacciCatering.com
* Butter Notes: This is a relatively low fat dressing
recipe, to make the dressing truly memorable, dot the top of each pan of
dressing with another half to one stick of butter – after all, this is a
special occasion!
** Stock Notes – The actual amount of stock you will need really depends on the bread – add more stock as needed, the crumbs should be very moist, especially when the dressing is roasted outside of the bird. Taste before serving, more hot stock can be added at the last minute to make the dressing as moist as you like.
I suggest More Than Gourmet brand stocks reconstituted with only half the water to make rich low sodium stock. Their turkey stock is called Glace di Volialle, if not available, use their chicken stock (Glace di Poulet). We also have homemade low sodium stock at Tony’s.

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