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We eat lots of poultry at Blue Moon Keep, so we have lots of ways in which we prepare them.

A favorite is to brine the bird in raspberry or cranberry juice (a straight brine alters the texture of the meat and makes it sort of spongy, which passes for tender, I guess - and straight-brined birds don't seem to make as tasty left-overs), then shove a 3/4 full can of beer up its butt to roast on the grill or in the oven. Getting the can out can sometimes be a 2-person job.

Frying is also a favorite - we prefer a pressure fryer to a deep fryer and that Japanese powder that turns the dredges of oil into a solid so it can be picked up and disposed of is amazing.

But the most favorite way, especially with the bigger birds - goose and turkey, usually - is to steam it before roasting.

Yes, you need a really big pot with a tight sealing lid to steam the bird of your choice. For a turkey, that could be a lobster pot. I have a 30 quart canning pot I use for turkeys. If you have a roasting pan with rack and lid, that works well.

turkey pan

Roasting Pan

Big chickens, ducks, and geese don't require the same preparation as a turkey does (the sinews in the turkey legs...), so they can just be washed and seasoned and loosely stuffed with coarse cut veggies (carrots and celery and onions). You need to make a 1/2" to 1" cut in the bird where the wings join the body and where the joint between the drumstick and thigh - the size of cut is determined by the size of the bird.

Raw Turkey

You can rub the bird with seasoning, and can place seasonings between the breast skin and breast meat. I like to place flat muslin bags of herbs under the skin - bags make it easier to remove the herbs later so the skin can crisp up.

For a turkey, though, you need to do a bit more. You need to cut off the knobby ends of the turkey drumsticks, the ankles. The joint cuts will need to be at least an inch deep, maybe an inch and a half if it's a really big bird. The butcher can do the cut for you.  If you do it yourself, cut the bone off just at the end of the large muscles of the drumsticks. Then wash the bird, season, and loosely stuff with chopped vegetables.

Raw Turkey

Place a rack in the bottom of a pot large enough to fully enclose the bird.

Put some coarse cut carrots, celery, and onions under the rack.  For turkey, I like to add some rutabaga chunks and a sweet baby turnip, chopped.

Add 6 cups of water, then lower the turkey onto the rack. If you don't have a rack, you can fake it with foil - crumple up 8 - 10 fist-sized balls to rest the turkey on above the veggies and water.

Set the pan on the stove top, bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and put the lid on.

Let the bird steam for half an hour. EDITED TO ADD:  Really teeny birds, like Cornish Game Hens, only need to steam for 20 minutes - unless you steam more than 3 at a time, in which case, steam the whole half hour.

Remove from the heat and allow the bird to cool enough to handle comfortably.

Set the oven to 375ºF.

When the bird is cool enough, remove it from the steaming pot.  Take out the seasoning bags from under the skin (if you did that) and remove the veggies from inside the bird.  Discard those veggies to your compost or worm bin (cool them before adding to the worm bin!  Poor worms will get burned otherwise). Reserve the water (it's now a rich stock).

Glaze the bird - I like using a cranberry juice/cider vinegar glaze - it shines and crisps the skin up marvelously.

Stuff it.  

Assuming your bird is 8-10 pounds:  Place the bird, breast up, into the roasting pan and roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Add the veggies you want to roast with it (turn them in the pan to coat them with the bird juices), and roast for another 1 1/2 hours.  Glaze the bird every half hour. If the bird begins to brown too much, cover it loosely with foil. EDITED TO ADD: Larger birds will roast longer, smaller birds less. Consult with a decent roasting chart for the proper time to roast your sized bird. Or use an internal thermometer and roast until breast and leg both register 160ºF internally.

Skim off the bird fat from the stock left in the steaming pot.  The fat can be used to saute onions and such for additional pan dressing and gravy and vegetable dishes.

The stock itself can be used for making soup and gravy.

Now, there's an additional step to take for turkeys.  Once the turkey is cooked (breast and leg register an internal temperature of 160ºF), remove it from the oven and remove the sinews from the legs.  To do this, you use a fork to hold the meat in place and a small pair of pliers to grasp and pull out the sinews which will be visible at the cut ends of the legs.  The sinews will be those flat, hard pieces that are inside the turkey legs.

Finally, you can prep and serve the bird any way you want.  Those little paper leg frills will hide the cut ends of the turkey legs and make the turkey look more complete when served whole.

Originally posted to Noddy and Itzl on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 07:35 AM PST.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse.

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