Turkey Day Renaissance
Yay, it’s turkey day! I love Thanksgiving. Some people complain about the amount of turkey they’re expected to eat, and how dry the meat can be. But I look forward to this day every year. I wonder if their ennui with this grand bird is because roast turkey typically acts as the star of the table at every seasonal meal — Christmas, Easter, uncle Joe’s birthday dinner. Facing the same main meal all the day can get boring. For me, turkey makes up only one part of a celebratory meal. First, one must endure two or three types of homemade pasta and lasagna, followed by approximately three or four types of meat, many more vegetables, fish and fruit. Oh, the hardship!
Anyway, it’s hard to become bored with a particular kind of food when there are so many other delectable choices competing with it. It’s just one aspect of a great, memorable meal. If you’re looking for your turkey renaissance, or you simply want to present turkey in a slightly different way, I’ve got the answer.
Recently, I came across a recipe for duck confit and wondered if the same could be done with turkey. Granted, even turkey thighs don’t contain the same level of fat that duck legs do, but why not give it a try? The resulting turkey thighs couldn’t replace duck, but the experiment did work. The turkey was moist, delicious and unlike typical roast turkey. I tried the recipe with a turkey breast as well. There wasn’t nearly enough fat coming off the breast to even pretend that I was making turkey breast confit. It did, however, turn out to be very yummy. It’s a keeper, for sure.
Mock Turkey Confit
4 lbs turkey thighs, bones and skin removed
6 Tbsp kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp each mustard powder
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1. Trim and discard the fat on the turkey thighs.
2. Combine salt, sugar, thyme, allspice, mustard powder and coriander seed. Rub mixture all over turkey legs. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
3. Lay turkey in a sieve or on cheesecloth. Rinse well under running water making sure to retain all of the spices in the sieve or cheesecloth while washing the excess salt away.
4. Spread meat flat in a large pan. Add 1/4 cup water and cover tightly.
5. Bake in a 375°F oven until meat is tender and cooked through (approx. 165°F), about 1-1/4 hours.
Slice thinly and serve with a side of stuffed peppers. A fine Italian Pinot Grigio picks up the delicious, sweet spices in this dish.