Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Low Maintenance Bird
by McGonagirl, Hagrid

Every Christmas, chef Ollie Jimius would give special holiday recipe demonstrations throughout the wizard world so that his compatriots could have the best dishes for the wintry festive season. He was, however, getting tired of being asked constantly how to make a roast turkey. "Don't get me wrong, I love turkey," Ollie would reply, being careful not to insult turkey farmers (inadvertant comments had gotten him into trouble before, y'see), "but at the end of the day, it's a tough bird to cook. Look at it — big, unevenly shaped, dark meat and light meat in uneven proportions! All that bastin', the hours of oven time! And honestly, who wants to be cookin' such a high maintenance bird during a holiday when everyone's meant to have a crackin' good time?"

He managed to get away with this explanation, but it did bother him that someday, someone would accuse him of not being able to roast a turkey so that it was moist and succulent. So he studied and tried many things in the privacy of his own country cave, away from critics who might want to pick on him. That always seemed to be the lot of celebrities, to be criticized by those who didn't do much of anything except pick on the ones who did the work.

In the end, the solution was very simple — remove the bony carcass and wishbone, and flatten the bird so it formed a shallow, relatively even piece of meat. A big turkey would take a mere 45 minutes to roast this way! And what's more, since the meat was of an even depth, it could be grilled too, indoor or out. Ollie could hardly wait to be asked that turkey question again at his next demo, because he'd be ready to fire up the grill and produce this delicious roast for little effort. "It's my favorite bird," he'd wink to the crowd of witches, "beautiful, plump, succulent, delicious, gorgeous — and low maintenance!"

  • 1 whole turkey, about 12 lbs / 5½ kg, thawed (if frozen, you can thaw it in the brine before doing the boning and prep)
  • large bucket of brine solution (suggestions: Kamino Seawater, Garlicky Peruvian Brine, Basic Brine, Spicy Brine ... it's optional, but brining the meat will keep the meat really moist and flavorful)
  • olive oil or melted clarified butter
Remove the wishbone from the turkey by cutting two slits through the top of the breastmeat alongside the bones and pulling it out. Be careful not to poke yourself if you break the bone (if you are doing this with chicken, the breastbone is often already broken, so caution!). Turn the turkey onto it's belly and cut out the spine and pelvis bones completely. Open up the turkey and flatten it out, breast side against the work surface. The bones can be pulled off the meat by first pulling out the keel bone and cartilage. There are some connective ligaments by the wing balljoints, so you'll need to use a knife to cut through those as well as the balljoints. You can scrape the bones away from the meat with a knife, combined with the pulling motion so you have boneless breasts. Leave the bones in for the legs, thighs, and wings in the meat. (Acutally, if you prefer, you really only need to pull off the backbone and keelbones. You can leave in the rib bones if you wish.)

Place the meat into the brine and let "marinate" for 6 hours or so. If you started with a frozen bird, you can unwrap it and put it into the brine — it will thaw faster and absorb flavor too. Either way, cover and keep the whole thing cool by placing the bucket in a cold corner of the garage or kitchen or basement or wherever in the house. You can turn the bird once in the brine if you remember. You can leave it longer, but do keep it cool and remember that the brine flavors will get stronger only up to a point when the liquid inside the flesh of the bird is the same concentration of salt as the brine outside. Thus, no point in overbrining the bird.

Of course, if you started with frozen, you will do the boning after the brining. No need to re-brine after.

[Save all bones and trimmings for soup stock, of course. (Freeze them till you have time to make a stock.)]

For oven cooking: Heat the oven to 375°F / 190°C. Line a large baking pan or halfsheet pan (big enough to take the whole flattened bird) with foil or parchment paper. Drain the brine off the meat but do not rinse the meat with water or anything else. Use paper towels to blot off the brine so the bird is relatively dried off, but don't go crazy. Just remove the liquid so there are no puddles. Brush or drizzle olive oil or melted butter over the breast to help accelerate the browning. Place the roast in the middle of the oven and cook for about 40 minutes. The meat is done when the breast is at 140°F / 60°C and the thigh is at 70°C. Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

If you are grilling, fire up the grill on medium high. Sear the whole turkey, skin-side down. There will be a lot of smoke; make sure the vent fans are on or you're doing this outdoors away from windows leading into the house. Leave it alone for 10 minutes or so so you get good grill marks. At this point, you will need to cover the grill and lower the heat to medium or medium low and continue cooking the meat as if in an oven. Alternatively, you can remove the turkey from the grill and place on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet (breast up) and finish cooking in the oven indoors. Check with a meat thermometer for doneness, then allow the meat to rest before carving.

If you'd removed the rib bones, you'll be able to slice through the breast meat easily. Feeds from 8 to 20.

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