The Lighter Side of Turkey
As fall starts to roll in, the weather gets cooler and the leaves start to turn; but what I notice the most are the changes in everyone’s culinary direction. Comfort food becomes much more prominent. Halloween sweets are just around the corner. And of course, it is finally turkey season.
Depending on what side of the border you happen to come from, the turkey window arrives in October or November (eating season that is, not hunting season). My wife is American and I am Canadian, and in order to keep the peace, we celebrate both days. Regardless when you turkey down though, this bird seems to always be the star of the table. Every year I wonder why we don’t have it more often.
Turkey has a way of bringing families and friends together, and this is where I think the problem lies. Cooking a whole one is an ordeal, regardless of the process, roasting or deep frying. Due to its sheer size it is time-consuming, needing hours to prep and to cook. It needs to rest, and then there’s the expectation of sides — cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and stuffing. Because of the sheer amount of food that usually gets cooked, you absolutely need an entire group of people to eat enough of the turkey to avoid having a week’s worth of leftovers (even though it does make a great sandwich).
Since I have to do it twice a year — in back-to-back months no less — I have started cooking the bird in pieces. By breaking it down, or buying it in pieces, I can cook how much I need and cut down the cooking time drastically. This transforms turkey into a reasonable meal that can be enjoyed year-round. I hope this recipe excites your culinary minds enough to have turkey all year-round, and not just at Thanksgiving.
sage seared turkey
4 lbs turkey breast, skin on (or thigh or drumstick, depending on preference)
4 tbsp soft butter (unsalted)
4 tbsp chopped sage
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl mix half the butter, half the sage and zest. Spread the mixture under the skin of the turkey. Season exterior with salt, pepper and remaining sage.
Place an oven-safe pan on the stove, over medium heat with remaining butter and oil. Sear turkey on all sides until browned.
Add onion, celery and carrot into the pan. Lift the turkey on top of the vegetables and place the pan in the oven for 75 minutes, or until cooked though (165°F internal temp).
Enjoy with baked sweet potatoes and stuffing, and a Niagara Gewürz at its side.