Trussing is a means of binding a bird before cooking, to hold the wings and legs close to the body. This gives the bird a compact shape, often enhancing the symmetry in the process; and making for more even cooking, a beautiful presentation, and simplified carving. Some recipes call for turning a bird during roasting which is also much easier when trussed, and it will help prevent tearing the skin at the joints in the process. Of course, a full trussing will also help to hold in the dressing when a bird is stuffed.
No matter what method you choose, it is always a good idea to truss a bird – pure and simple. The only real exception would be if you plan to butterfly or spatchcock it before cooking. Untrussed legs on a whole bird may gape away from the body or even fall off, while the drumstick and wings stick up and dry out… Need we say more?
What’s Good for the Goose…
As with many cooking techniques, there are several types and styles of trussing, some suited to particular types of fowl. Since turkeys, capons and chickens share similar physical attributes, the same types of trussing and roasting methods will do for all of them. Geese and ducks on the other hand, have a narrower body and thicker skin with an abundance of good fat, which requires different trussing and roasting altogether. Smaller birds the likes of game hens and squabs need trussing only enough to bind the legs.
First Things First
Regardless of the technique you choose, a few things need doing beforehand. First, remove the neck and gizzards and reserve for making stock or perhaps as ingredients for your stuffing. Next, take a good look at the shape of the bird. Trussing will give you an opportunity to slightly cinch up the Read more
In our third installment of Talking Turkey with Ariane, she’s sharing her favorite recipes for impressive yet easy Thanksgiving side dishes, like creamy and rich truffle mashed potatoes, Wild Boar and Apple Stuffing and Harvest Bisque Soup with Smoked Duck Breast.
If have the good fortune of a temperate climate, or are intrepid and adventurous enough to brave the elements, grilling can be a much more than just a novel way to prepare your holiday bird. Grilling aficionados will tell you “Where there’s smoke, there’s flavor!” and grilling one of our organic free-range turkeys or all natural turkey breasts is no exception.
Grilling Your Holiday Turkey
You can use the rack to roast a butterflied turkey, flattened halves or a breast; and a kettle barbeque will allow you to use a roasting pan to cook a traditionally intact bird. Add the science of seasoned brines, and a myriad of marinades, spice rubs, and BBQ sauces to the mix, and you may never throw a bird in the oven again. These wonderful preparatory techniques enhance the succulence of your bird, with a spectrum of flavor bases that run from the sublime to the wow. Remember too, one huge bonus is that grilling will also free up precious oven space.
Get to Play with Fire
There are a few considerations before grilling a big bird. For instance, it will take more than a humble pair of tongs to flip a butterflied turkey, and comparatively speaking summer steaks, plump chicken, and sausages all grill relatively quickly. Even a small turkey calls for a substantially longer Read more
If a grand entrance with a bird straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting is not part of your Thanksgiving ritual, you can cut cooking time substantially by butterflying the bird, and giving the roasting a juicy jump-start under the broiler. This is an especially good method if you prefer to bring platters of carved meat to the table, or are setting a buffet.
How to Roast a Butterflied Turkey
Searing for Juicy Goodness
This method of roasting uses the high broiler heat to sear and brown the skin, sealing in the meat’s juices. You start by laying out the butterflied bird, skin side down in a shallow roasting pan, basting it generously with melted, rendered duck fat, and then position the bird so the meat is 7 or 8 inches from the preheated element.
Broiling uses intense heat, so if your oven has only one broiler setting that temperature is likely a whopping 550°F. If you can thermostatically control your broiler, set the temperature between 350°F and 400°F. You want a slower searing than is usually gotten by broiling, say about 16 to 18 minutes or so on the first side, so adjust the broiler heat accordingly. In either case, watch the bird carefully, and baste frequently during this process.
Once the meat has browned nicely, take it out of the oven to season with a good salt, and turn the Read more
Black… truffle… butter. The words alone have the power to induce salivation. And while black truffle butter is a year-round kitchen staple, it’s versatility is especially appreciated during the holidays. From passed hors d’oeuvres to plated appetizers and all the way through the main event – truffle butter plays an essential role in our Thanksgiving feast. In this holiday video, Ariane demonstrates how to slide disks of the earthy, creamy concoction under the skin of a turkey before roasting for an out-of-this-world delicious bird.
Pan Gravy Basics
The real gravy of a roasting a holiday bird is, well just that… the gravy, and nothing says turkey gravy like delicious, old-fashioned pan gravy. Pan gravy derives its flavor and telling character from both a rich stock, and the wonderful juices and dripping fats created by the cooking bird, and collected in the roasting pan, aka the pan drippings.
The Mother Sauce
Although deceivingly simple, pan gravies or sauces are rather sophisticated cuisine. In fact, in French cooking they are highly regarded as a mother sauce. You will know a good one when you taste it because it is pure ambrosia, smooth and delicious enough to eat all by itself. So much so, that it may actually surprise you to find how easy they are to make.
You start by making two different types of fonds – or bases. The first fond is your stock, which will be the hearty liquid foundation for your gravy. The second is a deglazing sauce made of the pan drippings, used to enrich the flavor of the Read more
Bread Stuffing Basics
Bread stuffing aka dressing, cooked inside the bird can delicately impart flavor and moisture to the meat, while in turn the delicious natural juices from the meat enrich the flavor and moisture of the stuffing. When cooked outside the bird, it can be equally moist and delicious, safely cooked ahead of time, and overall, much easier to control with regard to final moisture and texture. When cooked sans stuffing, the bird will cook faster too. Bottom line, no matter what you call it or where you cook it, stuffing is a signature holiday dish.
The nature and quality of the bread, as well as how it is prepared, will account for a dressings primary texture. A ‘dry’ dressing will retain a pleasant coarse or even crisp texture. Dressings that call for fresh bread or breadcrumbs, especially when moistened with stock, are softer and more even-textured. What’s nice is there isn’t a hard and fast rule as to what should go into Read more
How to Make Turkey Stock
The precious juices created and saved from the cooking of vegetables and meats, have long been used by cooks to enrich and enhance the flavor of food. In French cooking, these are fonds de cuisine - the foundations of cooking, and this practice of creating and using these juices is elevated to an art form of different fonds as stocks, reductions and sauces.
When making a poultry stock, these prized juices are created by cooking the bones of the bird together with a mirepoix - a specific combination of chopped aromatic vegetables, in a large stockpot of water. The initial cooking draws or extracts the flavor and juices from the ingredients, and additional hours of cooking slowly distills those juices and flavors into a rich stock. This all-important stock is what will give your gravy its telling character.
It is true that you can simply boil the neck and gizzard in lightly salted water and use the resulting liquid to make your gravy. However, it is only a little more work, and not that much more elaborate to make a good basic brown turkey stock. If you plan to butterfly or debone your turkey, you will have a wealth of good bones to add to the pot. If not, you can also make use of any fresh or frozen chicken bones and trimmings you may have saved for making chicken stock, as they will reflect the flavor of the turkey.
Rich Brown Stock
A basic brown turkey stock is made by first roasting or browning the bones before adding them to the stockpot, and mixing with a mirepoix, in a combination of 2 parts onion and carrots to 1 part celery, as an aromatic flavor base. When making a white stock, you start the stock with raw bones and a white mirepoix, replacing the carrots with parsnips to achieve a more pale color, and often adding leeks and mushrooms.
This simple brown stock is a wonderful, hearty base for delicious brown gravy. If you are starting Read more
In our holiday video, D’Artagnan Talks Turkey: Part 1—Just the facts, you’ll learn all about our entire turkey lineup. In this short video, Ariane will run through each bird – from how it’s raised to how many people it will feed and all the details in between. Still can’t decide which turkey to buy? Check out A Few Words About our Birds for even more information and side by side comparison.