The most daunting part of any Thanksgiving dinner is cooking the perfect turkey. You know the one…perfectly browned skin, tender, juicy meat that falls of the bone, the right amount of herbs & spices that make your body warm with contentment…well, Lisa has a trick up her Southern sleeve: Heirloom Bourbon Braised Turkey with Caramelized Pan Veggies and Plate Smothering Pan Gravy. It’s been a part of her family’s tradition for generations, and we’re happy to share this delicious variation on a classic. She also includes a great tip for keeping the meat moist while getting that beautiful browning on the skin. Happy cooking!
BOURBON BRAISED TURKEY WITH CARAMELIZED PAN VEGGIES
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1 Turkey (10-12 lbs)
2 cups Celery – cubed
2 cups Carrots – cubed
1 bunch Leeks – cubed
2 bulbs Garlic (peeled, leave cloves whole)
2 28-ounce Canned Italian Plum Tomatoes-including juice
4 tablespoons Fresh Sage – chopped
1 tablespoon Rosemary (or 1 fresh sprig)
1 cup White Wine
2 cups Chicken Stock (or 2 cans of chicken bouillon)
½ cup Bourbon
Cracked black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Oregano
½ teaspoon Thyme
Heavy roasting pan, pan spray and heavy duty foil
Line a roasting pan with heavy duty foil. Spray with pan spray or olive oil. Sprinkle seasoning salt inside the cavity of the bird. Put 1 small onion inside the back cavity. Slip outside skin under the wings to hold onion in place. Fold wings under the bird. Put all diced vegetables around the bird. Pour the wine, brandy, chicken stock and canned plum tomatoes, inside and around the bird. Sprinkle all seasonings inside and around in the pan.
Lisa’s tip for perfectly brown skin & moist meat: Make a tent with foil and spray the inside with pan spray. Seal the tent so it is completely sealed. Put turkey on a low rack for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn the oven down to 350 degrees, take the turkey out and split the foil and return it to the oven uncovered for an additional 1-1/2 hours. The last ½ hour watch carefully, baste every 10 minutes and you may need to rotate it to brown it evenly. Pull turkey out, drain stock and let it rest on a sheet pan while making gravy.
PLATE SMOTHERING PAN GRAVY
4 tablespoons Turkey fat from roasting pan
3 tablespoons Flour
2 tablespoons Minced Onions
½ teapsoons Minced Garlic
2 cups Turkey Stock (from pan)
½ cup Cream
¼ Cup Bourbon
Cracked Black Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Freshly Chopped Sage
In heave saucepot, melt turkey fat and sauté onions and garlic. Add flour. Stir until the fat absorbs flour. Whisk in turkey stock. Simmer and stir to avoid lumps until smooth. Let the sauce simmer on low to cook the flour. Finish the sauce by adding the cream and the bourbon.
Add cracked black pepper to taste. Finish with fresh sage.