Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Rumble.

I made a whole turkey.

When you've mastered roasting a chicken, and the only place to go is up, turkey is a natural next step. Granted, this is before Thanksgiving, so no one's thinking turkey...yet. Once you read this recipe, you'll be planning ahead.

This was also part of the West Side Story inspired meal I served up to my American Musical Theater class (see below). I can't say enough good things about this turkey. Even for a turkey virgin, it managed to stay moist and cook through in a decent amount of time. It was also super, super flavorful and that gravy was worth every last calorie. I don't know what my family is planning, but this is the only thing I want on our Thanksgiving table this year.

Adobo Turkey with Red-Chile Gravy
from Gourmet, November 2010

For adobo
  • 4 dried guajillo chiles (2 ounces), wiped clean
  • 3 dried ancho chiles (1 1/2 ounces), wiped clean
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece cinnamon stick, smashed
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 1 clove
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For turkey and gravy:
  • 1 (12-to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved for turkey stock
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • About 4 cups classic turkey stock , divided
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Melted unsalted butter if necessary

  • Equipment: kitchen string; a 17-by 14-inch flameproof roasting pan with a flat rack; a 2-quart measuring cup or a fat separator

Make adobo:
Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a large heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles in batches, opening them flat, turning and pressing with tongs, until more pliable and slightly changed in color, about 30 seconds per batch.

Transfer to a bowl and cover chiles with boiling-hot water, then soak until softened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast spices in a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Drain chiles, discarding liquid, and purée in a blender with spices, garlic, herbs, vinegar, water, oil, and 2 teaspoon salt until very smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside 1/2 cup adobo for gravy.

Marinate turkey:
Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt evenly in turkey cavities and all over skin, then rub remaining
adobo (a scant 3/4 cup) all over turkey, including cavities. Fold neck skin under body, then tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks together with string. Transfer to rack in roasting pan and marinate, covered with plastic wrap and chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 24.

Roast turkey:
Let turkey stand, covered, at room temperature 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third.

Add 1 cup water to pan and roast turkey 1 hour.

Brush turkey with oil and add remaining cup water, then tent loosely with foil and rotate pan. Roast (if bottom of pan becomes dry, add 1/2 cup more water) until an instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of each thigh (test both; close to but not touching bone) registers 170°F, 1 3/4 to 2 3/4 hours more (total roasting time: 2 3/4 to 3 3/4 hours).

Carefully tilt turkey so juices from inside large cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to a platter and let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes (temperature of thigh meat will rise to 175 to 180°F).

Make gravy while turkey stands:
Straddle roasting pan across 2 burners, then add 1 cup turkey stock and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into 2-quart measure and skim off fat (or use a fat separator), reserving fat. Add enough turkey stock to liquid to bring total to 5 cups.

Whisk together flour, 6 tablespoon reserved fat (if there is less, add melted butter), and reserved 1/2 cup adobo in a heavy medium saucepan, then cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 3 minutes (mixture will be thick). Add pan juices and stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring to a boil, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt.

Serve turkey with gravy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

When you're a jet.

Continuing with the series of posts from musical theater listening quiz parties, we have the Poblano potatoes au gratin. This recipe was for "West Side Story", where I hosted a Puerto Rican inspired (or at the very least, Mexican) Thanksgiving. I couldn't imagine a more symbolic holiday for immigrants, and the fact that Gourmet (may it rest in peace) already planned it made that much easier to pull off.

We'll get to the rest of the menu eventually, but these potatoes were off the chain. I know that I put too many potatoes in and used some milk to make up for this, but they still managed to turn out. Friends who are "bad at cooking": Take note.

I had a gas stove in the apartment on Diamond street, so roasting the poblano peppers was easy. I know that there were pepper-ashes all over the stove for at least a week, but it was fun and fairly easy to do. When I discover a method to use with my electric oven, I'll be sure to pass it along.

This recipe was also another reason I love my mandoline slicer. Few things make me happier than a thinly-sliced vegetable. Invest in one as soon as humanly possible.

Finally, roasting the peppers, using the mandoline, and building the gratin are great technique builders. The recipe is fairly easy, but the dish looks and tastes impressive.

Poblano Potatoes Au Gratin
Serves 8

From Gourmet: In Mexican cuisine, rajas refers to thin strips of roasted chiles. Although they commonly spice up everything from stews to tamales, rajas are best when adding a kick to creamy dishes. Here, forest-green poblanos lend a mild, almost fruity heat to a potato gratin
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh poblano chiles (about 5)
  • 1 pound onions, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk

Roast chiles and make rajas:
Roast chiles on their sides on racks of gas burners on high, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Immediately transfer to a bowl and let stand, covered tightly, 10 minutes.

When chiles are cool enough to handle, peel or rub off skin. Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem, seed, and devein. Cut lengthwise into thin strips.

Cook onions with 1 teaspoon salt in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in chiles and remove rajas from heat. Reserve 1/2 cup rajas for topping.

Make gratin:
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.

Peel potatoes, then cut crosswise into 1/16-inch-thick slices with slicer. Transfer to a small heavy pot. Add cream, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally (liquid will thicken). Stir in rajas, then pour mixture evenly into baking dish. Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup rajas on top.

Bake until potatoes are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.