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Celebrating Thanksgiving with a bountiful array.

THE BEAUTY OF THIS HANDSOME TABLE IS MUCH MORE than the eye beholds. With the exception of the turkey and gravy, the dishes travel well--should friends or family volunteer to lend a hand. Subtly worked into many recipes are fat-cutting steps obvious only in preparation, but definitely not hinted at by the dishes' taste or look.

To enhance festivities, domestic sparkling wines complement the menu's range of flavors. Choices include Culbertson Blanc de Noir; Domaine Chandon nonvintage reserve or nonvintage Blanc de Noirs; Iron Horse brut or Blanc de Blancs; Domaine Mumm vintage reserve brut, cuvee Napa; and Roederer Estate brut nonvintage. Cost is $15 to about $30 a bottle.

Settle the annual debate about how to cook the turkey by evaluating competition for oven space against the enthusiasm of the barbecue chef.


To prepare turkey to roast or barbecue, select the size of fresh or frozen bird you want; allow at least 1/2 pound raw turkey (including bone and skin) for each person. For leftovers, get a bigger bird.

If turkey is frozen, thaw in its plastic wrapper in the refrigerator; this may take 2 to 3 days.

If you're rushed, immerse frozen turkey in its wrapper in a basin of cool (not warm) tap water. As water gets icy cold (once or twice an hour), drain and cover bird with more cool tap water. A 30-pound turkey takes about 7 hours to thaw.

When turkey breast is thawed to feel soft when pressed, unwrap. If legs are trussed, release them. (If giblets packed in body cavity are still frozen, wiggle them free, rinsing cavity with cool tap water as you work.)

Pull off and discard lumps of fat and remove giblets. Rinse bird inside and out; pat dry. Rinse giblets, drain, and start simmering for port gravy (directions follow).

To season turkey, start from tail end of bird and ease your fingers beneath skin, up and over breast, to loosen, but keep in place. Slip rinsed and drained fresh sage leaves and thyme sprigs between skin and meat; you'll need 1/3 to 2/3 cup total, depending on bird size. Rub bird all over with 1 to 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Insert thermometer straight down through the thickest part of the breast to the bone.

Roasted Turkey

Prepare and season turkey, and insert thermometer as directed (preceding). Set turkey, breast up, on a V-shaped rack in a rimmed pan at least 2 inches deep and at least 1 inch wider on all sides than bird (if you don't have a pan quite big enough, use foil to keep drips from spilling out of pan).

Roast as directed in chart (below). If desired, baste turkey every 30 minutes with pan drippings (or olive oil or melted butter if bird is small and has very few drippings).

Remove turkey from oven; let rest in a warm place (or tent with foil) for 10 to 15 minutes, allowing juices to settle. If desired, present at the table. Turkey cooked according to the chart will have moist breast meat, but thighs are often still pink at hip joint. Cut off the legs and disjoint; if meat at the hip joint is pinker than you like, put thighs in a 9- to 10-inch-wide pan and return to 450|degrees~ oven until meat at joint is no longer pink, 10 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, carve and serve remaining turkey.

Per 3-ounce portion cooked turkey, meat only, half white, half dark: 144 cal. (26 percent from fat); 25 g protein; 4.2 g fat (1.4 g sat.); 0 g carbo.; 64 mg sodium; 67 mg chol.

Barbecued Turkey

Prepare and season turkey, and insert the thermometer as directed (preceding).

In a barbecue with lid, mound and ignite 60 charcoal briquets on firegrate. When briquets are dotted with gray ash, about 30 minutes, divide in half and push to opposite sides of firegrate. Place a drip pan between coals. Add 5 briquets (10 total) to each mound of coals now and every 30 minutes while cooking.

Set grill 4 to 6 inches above firegrate; rub lightly with oil and set turkey, breast up, on grill over drip pan. Cover and cook with vents open; for cooking time, see chart below. If parts of the turkey begin to get darker than you like before the bird is done, drape browned areas with foil.


You can start the gravy a day ahead. If your turkey is 18 pounds or less, be sure to start gravy before you put the bird on to cook. If your turkey is more than 18 pounds, double the recipe, using a 6- to 8-quart pan. If the roasting pan isn't large enough to hold liquid, finish the gravy in the saucepan.

Port Gravy

Giblets from 10- to 18-pound turkey

1 medium-size (about 6 oz.) onion, quartered

1 large (about 1/4 lb.) carrot, cut into chunks

2/3 cup sliced celery

4 cups regular-strength chicken broth

At least 1 cup ruby or tawny port

1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

Turkey drippings from roasted or barbecued turkey (preceding)

1/3 cup cornstarch

Salt and pepper

Rinse giblets; chill liver airtight. In a 2- to 3-quart pan, place remaining giblets, onion, carrot, celery, broth, 1 cup port, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer until gizzard is tender when pierced, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours. If making ahead, let mixture cool, cover, and chill up to a day; reheat to simmering.

Add liver; cook for 10 minutes.

Pour broth through a fine strainer into a bowl; save giblets for gravy or other uses. Discard residue.

If using giblets, pull meat off neck, and chop neck meat and giblets; set aside. Measure broth; if needed, add water to make 4 cups.

Spoon and discard fat from turkey drippings in roasting pan (if barbecue drippings aren't too charred, skim and discard fat, then scrape drippings into the 2- to 3-qt. pan).

Smoothly mix cornstarch with cup 1/4 water; add to broth and mix with turkey drippings, scraping browned bits free. Add chopped giblets and stir over high heat until boiling, about 5 minutes.

Season to taste with more port and salt and pepper. Makes 4 to 5 cups.

Per 1/4 cup with giblets: 41 cal. (24 percent from fat); 2.7 g protein; 1.1 g fat (0.3 g sat.); 4.5 g carbo.; 22 mg sodium; 23 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:Holiday Entertaining; recipes
Author:Johnson, Elaine
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Previous Article:Fabulous first courses.
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