Let’s Talk Turkey

cooked turkey

P.S. (that’s ‘pre’ script!) I left my turkey in the pan even though the bottom of it blackened.  Yup.  It happens and even though I love my blog I am just not the kind of girl who is going to place her turkey on a pretty platter just for a photo.  Who has time!?

Yes it is late September and I am in the mood for turkey.  I love me a nice roasted turkey.  The aroma of that heavenly non-chicken savory-ness permeated my house while it cooked away.  Mmmmmm…

We Americans have become so Thanksgiving-ingrained about turkeys that they can be down right hard to find outside of November, but I knew Whole Foods wouldn’t let me down (and at their prices, let’s face it: they’d better not!)

So I got myself an organic turkey yesterday for $3.99/lb.  For a nine pound bird that’s, ahem, close to FORTY DOLLARS.  How the heck does the full time homemaker–married to a public school teacher–swing a 40 buck-bird for dinner?  Well I am just so glad you asked.

I don’t.  That is; I don’t swing it for one dinner.  My friends, to make this purchase worth it I go Native American on my bird.  Oh yeah.  NOTHING IS WASTED.  The only way I can justify spending this kind of loot on a turkey is to stretch that meat into a bunch of meals.  Don’t you want to know what I do? (yes.)  Would you like me to walk you through all the stages? (yes.)

OK.  Here we go.

1. Prep your turkey.  Super easy plan here.  Fall has actually descended in So-Cal (thankyouthankyouthankyou) and the weather is a tad cooler, but it’s not cold enough outside for me to have a hankering for some stuffing and that sort of thing.  So I kept my plan pretty light:

turkey stuff

After removing the neck and the bag of whatever-the-heck-that-was from the cavity of Mr. Turkey, I put in a quarter of an onion, two garlic cloves and a lemon (ends chopped off with holes forked around the sides.)

2. Then, you may have noticed that my turkey doesn’t look like June Cleaver’s (and never will, thank you very much.)  Just like when I roast a chicken I always place the breast side down to insure the largest pieces of meat will stay tender and juicy.  My sister calls this “downward dog style.”

raw turkey

Then, on top I used the following ingredients: 1/2 cup white wine, 1/2 cup orange juice, drizzle olive oil.  Sprinkle top with whatever yummy stuff you’ve got in your spice drawer.  I used several dashes of thyme, garlic powder, garlic salt, black pepper and I think some oregano.

3. Also just like when I cook a chicken I set the oven at 425 degrees and cook for 25 or so minutes.  Then reduce temp to 325 and cook approximately 25 minutes per pound.  This was a 9 pounder so I left it for about 2 1/2 more hours.  I checked it at about 2 1/4 hours and it was done.  How did I know this?  My handy meat thermometer (inserted into thigh after taking out of oven to check) read just above 155 degrees.

Back to the justification piece…  After the turkey cooled I de-boned it and had two sets of leftovers.  All the meat:

turkey meat

And then the bones or carcass:

turkey carcass

This is, in fact, my favorite part as I will boil these bones in water (with the lemon, onion and garlic) for about 90 minutes to get the most delicious broth you’ve ever tasted.  If my house smelled good with the turkey in the oven, just imagine what it will smell like with these bones simmering away.  Yu-uhm.

So, last night we had turkey with rice and broccoli.  I will use the leftover meat and soon-to-be broth to make, likely 3 more meals (including soup which I am so excited about I can hardly stand it!)

If you do the math now, I spent about 40 bucks on the turkey, but if I use it for four meals for five people that’s around $2.00 per person per meal.  For organic turkey that’s pretty good, right?  And if I can squeak another meal out of the meat I could drop that cost even more.

How many recipes can a girl make with turkey?  Again, so glad you asked.  Turkey soup is coming pronto.  I’m also thinking about turkey enchiladas, toasted turkey sandwiches and maybe turkey fajitas… or maybe turkey stir fry… or wait… so hard to decide!

Do you want to see my recipes for turkey leftovers?  (yes.) Coming soon!

Turkey ingredients recap:

Ingredients: 9 pound turkey, two garlic cloves, 1/4 onion, fresh lemon, 1/2 cup OJ, 1/2 cup white wine, drizzle olive oil, generous dashes of garlic salt, garlic powder, black pepper, thyme and oregano.

Direction recap: Cook at 425 for 25 minutes and then lower temp to 325 and cook for 25 minutes per pound.  Internal meat temp should read 155 when done.

Tips: I place a piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of my roasting pan to help with cleanup.  Also, I added water this time about 1/2 way through roasting as the sizzling pan started to create a bit of smoke.

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Rub-a-dub… RIBS!

ribs with slaw

OK, so I don’t know about your husband, but there’s something about Father’s Day that brings out Mike’s inner cave man.  And when I say “inner cave man” I am referring to the innate, undeniable desire for a big ‘ol piece of meat on his plate for dinner.

We eat meat.  I like it too.  I’m just sayin’ that it seems like guys like it a whole lot more than we do.

Funny enough, although I’m not a big meat eater, when I do eat meat, I really prefer it on the bone.  Cooking meat on the bone always yields more flavor; any foodie can tell you that.  But I like the bone there too.  Can’t really explain it but there you go.

Over the past few months I’ve been checking out some fun Southern Foodie blogs and playing around with different rub situations.  There are many ways to make tasty meat rubs that include everything from coffee grounds and dry mustard, to celery salt and paprika.  ‘Round here we have agreed that the one I’m posting today is a real winner in the taste department, and I love it because all the ingredients are likely in everyone’s cupboard already (or, if not, they’re not so exotic that they’ll go untouched after you whip up these babies.)

As a Midwestern transplant to the west coast, I will admit to having a very limited rib background.  My journey thus far have taught me a few things: First off, the key to yum-ola ribs is definitely slow cooking them on a low heat.  Smoking them over hickory and coals would likely be ideal, but I hardly have the time–or, let’s face it, the inclination–for that kind of rib action.  My oven does the trick just fine.  Secondly, rubs ROCK.  I really love the voodoo they do to ribs and other meats too.  You can use today’s recipe on  chicken, a pork roast, etc…

So as we are not even close to getting into a summer groove yet, allow me to get right to the point and back to a bunch of tasks that, for whatever reason, have yet to be completed in my home.

Michelle’s Caveman Ribs (These are super easy to prepare, but they do need 3 1/2 hours to cook.)

Ingredients: (which, by the way, I do not actually measure.  Big shocker, I know.)  your basic rack of pork ribs–3 or so pounds, 1/2 cup loosely packed cup of brown sugar, 1 tbsp. chili powder, 1 tbsp. oregano, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1-2 tsp. cayenne, few healthy shakes of salt and black pepper.

Directions: grab yerself a cookie sheet.  Place a piece of aluminum foil on it.  Pat rack of ribs quick-dry with a paper towel.  Spread/pat rub on both sides of the ribs and place them on the foil.  Sprinkle any last rub on top with the “u” shape up so that all that yummy stuff can rest there and turn into a de-lish glaze when all is said and done.  Should look something like this:

pre cooked ribs

Wrap the foil around the ribs and cook all cozied up like that at 250 for 2 hours.  Then open foil up and cook like that for another hour and a half.  When they’re done they will look something like this:

cooked ribs

And they will taste like heaven.  At least I hope they have these in heaven…

I recently served my ribs up with some cole slaw, as pictured above (see my recipe under salads) which was pretty much the tastiest dang combination we’ve had in a while.  Cave man happy = good Father’s Day.

Play around with your rub.  It’s cool and very “in” right now!  Try things like onion salt, cumin, celery salt, paprika, chipotle powder… Hope you enjoy!