Monday, December 6, 2010

Tuxedo Your Turkey

Dear Readers,

It’s been a dream of mine to host Thanksgiving for a very long time. Although I held many parties of 40+ guests in my brownstone apartment in Brooklyn over the years, I never wanted to host Thanksgiving because I think of it as more of a sit down and gather around the table kind of a meal. That meant I could only have 6 other people for the holiday, which is only part of my family. So this year in our new home in the suburbs, around our giant dining room table, my dream finally came true and for the first time I hosted my most treasured holiday in our home.

For the momentous occasion, Tom Turkey had to come to the table in more of a tuxedo than his every other year duds. I wanted to impress, out do myself, have my family and friends rave about this Thanksgiving for years to come. Thanksgivings tend to run together and since this was my first, I wanted it to be extra special. So instead of the typical herb, butter, and chicken stock baste with onions, carrots, and celery stuffed into the turkey cavity, I stepped it up a score and really dressed my bird. This fowl friend was gourmet to the max with a butter, sage, prosciutto, and chopped hazelnut rub with lemon halves and rosemary keeping Tom moist from the inside as they baked in his cavity.

The best part? It was so easy. After making the butter rub, all I had to do was get my fingers under the skin and rub ½ of the spread into the flesh. The other half of the spread was patted all over the outside of the bird on top of the skin. Then to fully dress - or should I say mummify - the turkey, I wrapped the entire thing in slices of prosciutto. 2 whole lemons cut in half baked in the cavity with 4 sprigs of rosemary and a whole large onion quartered. The prosciutto crisped on the outside and locked in the juices making the meat very succulent, even the white parts. The gravy from the drippings was decadent with a nutty herb flavor rising to the surface from the hazelnut and sage.

Is your mouth watering? It should be; it was absolutely phenomenal. It was without a doubt the best turkey I’ve ever tasted and it did come with the rave reviews I was hoping for. Christmas is coming soon and many of you will be adorning your table with another turkey for the holiday. I encourage you to “Tuxedo your Turkey” and give your guests a luscious treat with this Prosciutto-Hazelnut Crusted Turkey on Christmas day.

Truly & tastefully,

Prosciutto-Hazelnut Crusted Turkey (a.k.a. Tuxedo Turkey Recipe)
3 sticks of softened butter
2 tbs. chopped sage
1 lb. prosciutto - half chopped, half in medium thickness slices
1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
2 large shallots finely chopped
5 cloves minced garlic
1 ½ tbs. white wine vinegar
2 tsp. of ground pepper
¾ tsp. kosher salt
4 sprigs of rosemary
2 whole lemons, halved
32- 48 oz. chicken broth
1 large cooking onion, quartered

Turkey Prep:
For the butter spread mix softened butter sticks, sage, hazelnuts, garlic, shallots, vinegar, ½ lb. chopped prosciutto, salt, pepper in a bowl. Set aside ¼ cup of the butter rub for the gravy. On your washed and patted dry turkey, start at the neck and slide hand under the skin to loosen the skin from the breast, thighs and legs. Once loose, take ½ of the butter rub that was not set aside and slide it under the skin and into the flesh, this will make the skin look lumpy underneath. The other ½ should be patted onto the skin on the outside. Next wrap the whole turkey with the ½ lb of prosciutto slices. Place halved lemons, sprigs of rosemary, and quartered onion in the turkey cavity. Set turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and pour 4 cups of chicken broth in the bottom of the pan. Turkey should be placed in preheated oven of 350 degrees and should be cooked for the first hour and a half uncovered. After an hour and a half tent foil over the turkey and secure the foil on the sides of the roasting pan. Cook turkey the remaining time needed for the size of your bird. Baste the bird about every hour until cooking is complete, always remembering to replace the foil after basting. Add more chicken broth to the bottom of the pan if necessary. Once meat thermometer registers 175 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, the turkey is done. Remove the turkey from the oven, place on a cutting board, peel off crispy prosciutto and place aside, re-tent turkey with foil and let it rest for ½ hour. Then carve and serve!

Place roasting pan with the turkey drippings over two burners of stove, over low heat. Chop up the crispy prosciutto from the outside of the turkey and add it to the pan drippings along with the ¼ cup of butter spread you reserved. Whisk three tablespoons of flour into ½ cup of chicken broth to create a thick smooth liquid. Slowly stir the thick liquid into the roasting pan to start to thicken the juices into gravy. Whisking the flour before adding it prevents lumpy gravy. Add a tablespoon or two of Kitchen Bouquet to the gravy and season with more salt and pepper as needed. If you don’t have enough gravy, you can always add more chicken broth and throw in some more chopped sage for flavor. If 3 tablespoons of flour isn’t enough to thicken the gravy, repeat the whisking process until you have achieved the perfect constancy.

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