Talking Turkey

Chester (aka Johnny Walker), the Bourbon Red turkey.

Ahhhhh. . . .  Fall!  Turning leaves, smoke drifting through the trees from the first wood stove fires of the year, frost on the pumpkin, bean soups, plaid, and. . .  turkey harvesting.

We commenced our fall turkey harvest and processed six out of 23 birds of various sizes.  Here are some of the things we did with them:

    • Gift
    • Freeze
    • Smoke
    • Gallantine
    • Grind
    • Charcuterie
    • Pâté
    • Broth/stock
    • Roast
    • Stuff

Below are some of the recipes I used.  Enjoy!

Turkey Liver Pâté
12 oz Turkey livers, rinsed and connective tissue removed (about 1 ½ – 2 cups)
1 ½ C milk (enough to cover)
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 shallots, diced (you can use ¼ medium onion instead)
4 pieces of bacon, fried til crispy, then diced
1 C cream
1 ½ T Cognac (you can use much more if you like the taste:  up to 4 T)
1 t dried sage leaf (2 t of fresh sage diced)
salt and pepper to taste
Grated fresh nutmeg to taste (I used about ½ t)

Remove connective tissue in livers and cut liver into large chunks.  Soak in milk for about 2 hours.  Remove and pat dry.  (Give the milk to your dogs or cats or chickens or pigs.)

On medium heat, sauté shallots in butter and oil ‘til just soft, then add turkey livers.  Sauté for 5-10 minutes.  Do not overcook.  Livers should have just a tiny trace of pink.  Set aside off of stove.

Meanwhile, put cream, bacon (already cooked and diced), sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.
Pate ready for snacking

Put livers and shallots into blender and add half the hot cream mixture and puree (careful to hold the top of the blender down with a dish cloth or it will spray hot liver material all over your kitchen).  Scrape down sides and add the rest of the cream and the Cognac.  Puree until smooth, a minute or so.

Pour the pate into a small terrine (3 cup size) and let rest at room temperature.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight to develop the best flavor.

Stuffed Turkey Thighs
Serves 2-3 (sorry, no picture)
2 giant boneless turkey thighs–brined (see ingredients below)
2 C water
·    4 T kosher salt
·    4 T honey
·    ¼ C fresh squeezed orange juice with a couple slices of peel
·    1 T organic apple cider vinegar
·    2 cloves garlic chopped
·    ½ t red pepper flakes
·    1 T fresh basil chopped
·    1 bay leaf

1 apple,  unpeeled, cored and chopped
1/4 C dried cranberries
1 C toasted sour dough bread cubes, cut into ½- 1 inch pieces (toasted or very stale)
1 T brown sugar
¼ t freshly grated nutmeg
1 T melted butter
1 T parsley
½ – 1 C chicken stock (add more to moisten if needed)
¼  t kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Other (to cook)
·    2 T butter
·    1 T olive oil
·    1 C chicken broth
Bone turkey thighs and butterfly.  Pound to even thickness, about ½ inch.  Make up brine and immerse turkey in brine overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all the stuffing ingredients and set aside.
When turkey is done brining, pat dry and put stuffing in middle.  Wrap thigh around stuffing and secure with a couple toothpicks.
Melt butter and olive oil in ovenproof casserole (that has a lid).  Brown turkey a couple minutes per side.  Add chicken broth and cover.  Put into oven for 35 minutes.  Baste regularly.  Remove lid after 35 minutes and let roast for 10 minutes ‘til brown and done.  Remove from oven and from dish.  Let rest covered for 15 minutes while you make gravy out of the drippings. (You’re on your own here.  The sauce is probably great just reduced a bit with a knob of butter.  Or if you prefer make a roux and traditional gravy with additional chicken/turkey stock.)  Serve with mashed potatoes.
All Day Turkey Broth


A   A good sized turkey carcass, raw or cooked, including neck and feed
Small piece of smoked ham (or a strip of raw bacon or prosciutto end)
1/2 orange
1 yellow onion, quartered
2 medium carrots, chopped large
1 parsnip, chopped large
1 head of garlic/halved

stAdd during last hour of cooking:
cinnamon stick
star anise
parsley (a handful of stems)
2 t fennel seed
2 allspice berries
2 bay leaves
5 peppercorns
2 t kosher salt

Put turkey, ham, onion, parsnip, orange, carrots, garlic into a slow cooker and add about 10 C water.  Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours.  Turn to low and cook for 5-10 hours more. (I’ve actualy done 24 and it is great).  During the last hour, add the spices.  Strain broth several times through sieves and cheesecloth.
Taste.  If necessary reduce on stove top in a large stock pot. (I usually do this.)  It will sweeten up when reduced without much help.  Salt to taste before finishing.  Usually, you will end up with about 8-9 C of broth, just the right amount for 2 quart jars.
If you refrigerate the stock in jars, you can skim off the schmaltz (fat) from the top prior to canning or freezing.  Schmaltz is great for sautéing, so don’t waste it.
You’ll know you have a great broth when you take some out of the jar after cooling and it is gelatinous and crystal.  Viola!  The queen of poultry stock!
Strip the meat from the bones and save it, carrots, parsnips, garlic and herbs for the doggies.  (Don’t give the dogs onions or bones).
Success!  Gelled turkey stock fit for royalty.
Coming Soon/Eventually/in My Dreams
·         Smoked wings and legs for stews
·         Turkey and dried cherry sausage
·         Smoked turkey galantine for sandwiches
·         Turkey molé

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