Cook that Turkey and How to handle leftovers

Cook that Turkey – brined two ways.


We are by any standards, very backward when it comes to a turkey. Frankly we don’t know what we are doing. We lack the experience. Most will cook turkey once a year, that’s just not enough. Its not often I praise the Americans, they do however deserve a lot of praise and even following of recipes when it comes  to turkey.


1. Brining Turkey’s is good, makes the bird moist, keeps a great flavor.


Salt water/Sugar brine

You must start the evening before… the turkey must be fully thawed the bird should be submerged in the brine solution and preferably kept in a cool/chill (refrigerate) situation. It would be 8 hour no longer brine.

This solution should be enough for a 5 kg to 8 kg bird.

3 litres of chicken stock 275 grams of table salt 1/4 cup sugar (brown is best) 1 tablespoon dried sage 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary 1 tablespoon dried thyme 1 litre of iced water..

Bring stock, salt, sugar and herbs to the boil, allow to cool add the litre of iced water. and cool completely.

I like to use a clean plastic bucket that will hold the turkey easily with the brine. Place the brine into the bucket.

Wash and dry the turkey and lower the bird breast first into the bucket making sure that the cavities are filled with the brine. Place the bucket into the refrigerator over night, no longer than 8 hours. If the refrigerator is otherwise occupied, consider using a chiller or even a styrene box. Remove the turkey and dry completely. Make a mixture of Olive Oil, garlic, finely chopped herbs and pepper, rub this well into the cavity of the bird.

Salt and Lemon Juice.

This is the salt and lemon juice method. I am more inclined to this method, its not the speed, its more for me about taste. I love lemon and I love what it does to foods. I also acknowledge that this method is slightly ‘awkward, but give it a shot.

Your object is to cover the turkey in lemon juice, generously and then also generously, cover the bird in salt. No, not a snow field oif salt, rather a scattering, 7 kilo turkey would take about 1/2 a cup of salt. Having done both of the above, wrap the bird in plastic film and put asside (on the bench) for 45 minutes. This will allow time to heat the oven. Prepare a seasoning.


2. Cooking a turkey without stuffing is better. The argument goes that the stuffing will impede the heat from reaching the inside of the bird and make if more uneven in cooking. This is not something that I have ever suggested, I have held the view that the stuffing added to the deliciousness of the bird, but I have to reluctantly admit minus stuffing is better, is true. Your stuffing can be cooked separately and we suggest our new Persian stuffing mix.


As a preparation for the cooking, remove the wing tips from the turkey and if you have been given the neck and the giblets, place them in about half a litre of water and cook for 45 minutes, use this to make the pan gravy.


3. Cooking the Turkey on HIGH heat is the best way. This method requires a bit of preliminary work… a very clean oven, a baking pan with sides no higher than 5 cm and nerves of steel. The cooking is done at 240 to 250 Celsius and the oven MUST be preheated. The rule is 18 minutes per kilo. For the first 45 minutes, no matter what, do NOT open the oven. Resist the temptation to baste. And cook the bird on a V trivet breast side down, don’t truss the bird. It will or should be brown and crisp and very moist at the end of the cooking time. After 45 minutes, take the bird from the oven and turn it over breast side up, return to the oven for the balance of time, stillon high het.  If the bird is getting too browned, cut some foil and make a double layer draped, but not tucked in on top of the bird, (remove the foil 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time) and continue cooking. For a near 7 kilo bird, the cooking time should be about 2 hours. The bird should be allowed to stand for 20 minutes after cooking, covered, but not tightly or you will loose the crispy skin.


4. Make a gravy (sauce) but please no flour… just pour off as much of the fat as possible, add a couple of cups of stock (turkey stock if you have it as described above, if not chicken stock) and bring to the pan to a good rolling boil, this sauce is thin, but very tasty. The other option is to stir in a couple of big spoons of a very good Red Currant Jelly (PW brnad is good and made in house) to enrich the sauce.


5. The stuffing should be made up according to the instructions, it is best cooked in a loaf tin, usually I would cover it in foil and add a little extra oil.. You can cook this in advance and simply warm it.


6. If you want roasted vegetables, do NOT cook them with the turkey, they can be done in advance, or as the turkey is having a rest after the heat of the oven, twenty minutes rest is suggested.








It seems to me that the essential thing is NOT to bring the turkey back to a roaring heat, two things will happen, one is that the meat will toughen and lose flavour and the other is it will shred or simply fall apart.


The Americans (prostrations for their ability for cooking a turkey) seem to favour ‘pot pies’.

I am not much in favour of this for left overs, I love a chicken pie, but prefer to cook the chicken specifically for the pie, that is, not over cooking it and thus being able to retain the chicken in some shape as it cooks in the pie. I think over cooked poultry is awful!


1. If you have been clever and made the gravy the way suggested (not thickened, very tasty… much healthier for you), then simply remove all the meat from the bones and place on a platter, allow to come to room temperature, pour the gravy over the top and let stand for ten minutes, garnish with a small bowl of Cranberry Sauce. Its neither hot nor cold, but it is delicious.

I served it with salad.


2. Indonesian Curried Turkey.


1.5 kilo of Turkey meat, cut to bite size.

1/2 PW jar of Malaysian Chicken Curry paste.

125 mil of Kechap Manis

125 mil of crunchy peanut butter

1 dspn Sambal Olek (Chilli paste)

1 dspn palm sugar (grated)

Make up the paste…

1 small splash of oil (not olive) fry half the jar gently till it starts to become fragrant, add 1/2 a cup of chicken stock and 1/2 a cup of coconut milk, bring to a low boil, add the Kechup Manis, peanut, palm sugar and chilli. Bring all to heat. You are after a sweet/salt, well flavoured sauce, the peanut can make it too thick, in which case add a bit more stock. Turn off the heat and add the turkey, allow to stand until the turkey has absorbed the curry flavours and become warm.

This recipe can also be used with Chicken or Duck. You can also take it to Thailand and use the Thai Yellow Curry paste  (PW makes).

I like this served with noodles (rice glass style).


3. Sandwich.


Turkey sandwich

There is nothing nicer than a good turkey sandwich, choose your own conveyance … wholemeal bread, roll, wrap or just white sliced. Butter lightly or use a mayonnaise. Lay slices of turkey on one side, I suggest thinly sliced turkey meat, but about 4 or 5 slices of it. I then love to slather a good dollop of Cranberry Sauce, salt and pepper. And for those who want to add some green, do it, but I wish to remain pure.

Ham sandwich

Said to be the most popular sandwich after cheese in all countries of the world. The ham sandwich is also the most mistreated and screwed up. In various countries it is maligned in ways that almost beggar description. We all love a Ham and Cheese, this seems to have reached its apex in the delicious (if done well) Croque Monsieur


And has plumbed the depths of horrible in sliced white bread with some sort of reassembled ham sausage (this seems to me to be a complete disregard and respect for the life of the pig) and plastic cheese. In the USA the inclusion of cheese and fats of many kinds renders the sandwich explosively calorific.

My perfect ham sandwich is simply good bread, sliced moderately thinly, buttered evenly and moderately (or use mayonnaise) and then layered with two or three hand carved fine ham slices and the top piece of bread smeared with a good mustard (my choice is the Imperial Russian Mustard we make).



~ by peterwatson on September 10, 2013.

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