This is radical: A deconstructed holiday bird featuring white and dark meat that roasts in just 1-1/4 hours! The flesh stays ultra-moist and flavorful because of its overnight immersion in wine and brine. Smaller, flatter pieces allow faster browning and less cooking time. It is perfumed with bay leaves, fresh or dried, and a bit of aromatic oregano which imparts a revelatory herb-y aroma, the sine qua non of Thanksgiving smells. This is the perfect bird for those who: have only one oven; have no more than eight friends; who love to try new techniques; and for those who like to break with tradition. It is also a recipe for those who like to give themselves a break! There is little fussing or guess work in determining how the white meat will stay juicy and the dark meat thoroughly cooked. You begin with a total of 8 pounds of raw turkey (breasts and thighs only) which will amply fill your large turkey platter. Another bonus? There is little last-minute carving to do.
So begin the process today. Select your turkey parts at the butcher or grocery. Before you go to bed, submerge the turkey in a very large pot (make sure it fits in your fridge) filled with wine-and-brine (see below). Cover and refrigerate overnight. This new technique will ensure a good night’s sleep and liberate both you, and your oven, on the big day.
You might want to serve this year’s turkey with Marilyn Monroe’s recently-revealed stuffing recipe, my spiced cranberry chutney, Joan Hamburg’s amazing Ritz Cracker Stuffing (see The Food Maven’s website), or the world’s simplest sweet potato puree accented with orange and fresh ginger (sssshhhh….it’s fat free).
And…if you’re interested in trying something new, have the following ingredients in your kitchen tomorrow morning: 4 pounds sweet potatoes, large container sour cream, large chunk of extra-sharp white cheddar, curry powder, ground cumin, cinnamon and ginger and stay tuned!
Wined-and-Brined Turkey with Bay Leaves
2 cups dry white wine
2 large turkey breast halves, about 2-1/2 pounds each
2 very large turkey thighs, about 1-1/2 pounds each
16 fresh or dried bay leaves
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons best-quality dried oregano leaves
Combine the wine, 6 cups water, and 1/2 cup kosher salt in a very large pot. Submerge the turkey pieces. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Remove the turkey from the brine; pat dry. Scatter the bay leaves in a large shallow roasting pan. Place the turkey on top. Combine the oil and garlic pushed through a press in a cup. Rub the garlic oil into the turkey. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Roast the turkey, skin side up for 45 minutes. Turn the pieces over and roast 35 minutes longer, until cooked through. Transfer the turkey, skin side up, to a cutting board. Pour 1 cup boiling water into the pan, scraping up the browned bits; strain through a sieve. Carve the turkey and serve with the pan juices. Serves 8