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Video: Want a juicy bird? Deconstruct your turkey

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    >>> "today's" holiday is brought to you by ocean spray , tastes good, good for you.

    >> this morning on today's holiday kitchen, thanksgiving with a twist. you know what the traditional meal should look and taste like. but there's a new taste your family is sure to enjoy. his latest cookbook is family meals. happy thanksgiving to you. when i think of thanksgiving, i think of the turkey as a whole on a platter. but you're doing something, you deconstruct the turkey , which is a sophisticated way of saying you cut it in half?

    >> it's a heritage bird, it's air chilled so it never touches water and it's a fantastic tasting bird. the first thing you want to think about is quality. get the best bird you can possibly get. the second thing, roasting a bird whole always destroys the texture of the turkey . don't waste your time, you can cut it in half yourself, by using a pair of shears and cutting it along the backbone. or you can ask the butcher to do it.

    >> once you cut it in half.

    >> you put it in the roasting pan and you want to treat it like you would anything else. you want to smear a little bit of butter on top of the turkey itself. you got a little bit of texture, a little bit of salt, you want to season up the bird really well. and then what you want to do is just bury it in herbs. so the name of this dish is split roasted turkey buried in herbs.

    >> what herbs?

    >> we have got a little bit of fresh thyme and some rosemary, this is going to cook in an hour an 25 minutes. when you cook it for three hours, it ruins the bird. do your family a favor, don't cook the turkey whole. we're going to put whole split roasted heads of garlic in here too.

    >> while this is cooking --

    >> that's going to go in the uv, 400, or two hours. you start off with a base of onions a little bit of olive oil , a little bit of butter. we get a little bit of sugar, a little bit of caramelizization.

    >> but you don't want the spinach to burn or anything?

    >> if you want it trance -- we're going to add some spinach to this. you want to add a little bit more spinach than you need because it wilts down like crazy. give this a little bit toss, a little bit of scream, a little bit of parmesan, cook that to almost a beautiful side dish itself.

    >> this is one of my favorite dishes out of the cookbook. there's onions that's going to go on top of the whole thing. there's a little bit of honey and a little bit of sherry vinegar . and there's a little bit of bred crumbs. there's a little bit of color on top.

    >> if i put this in my fridge tonight, could i serve it to my guests tomorrow.

    >> i would just build it at the last second, you can cook the bred crumbs on top of this, it bakes in the oven for about 25 minutes.

    >> this is what you get, turkey buried in herbs. you get a nice crackly bit on top of this. you want to cook this until you get an instant read thermometer 160 degrees in the breast and the thigh. this is the best turkey , it's easy, it's quick and it's fantastic. don't ruin your turkey this year. this is a really good idea. everybody likes sweet potatoes , everybody likes mashed potatoes . since the sweet potatoes are savory and sweet, blended together. you get a little bit of this, a little bit of that, you get a really good flavor.

    >> oh, my god.

    >> and we share the spoon.

    >> that's right.

TODAY recipes
updated 11/23/2010 3:23:15 PM ET 2010-11-23T20:23:15

Recipe: Buried turkey with gravy

  • 2 bunches fresh sage (whole leaves)
  • 2 bunches fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary branches
  • 1 12- to 14-lb. turkey, giblets reserved, rinsed well and patted dry
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 heads garlic, cut crosswise
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 14-ounce can chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, toss the sage leaves, rosemary and thyme branches, and parsley leaves together.

With poultry shears, cut along each side of the the backbone of the turkey (and save for stock).

Spread the turkey as flat as possible, skin side down on a clean surface; with a meat cleaver or large knife carefully cut through the entire breast bone of the turkey, creating two even-sized turkey breast halves with leg and wing attached. Or have the butcher do this.

Rub 2 tablespoons of the butter evenly over all parts and under the skin of each turkey half and generously season all over with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the bottom of the roasting pan with 4 tablespoons of the herbs.

Fit each turkey half into the pan. Add the garlic and cover with the remaining herbs.

Roast the turkey uncovered on the lower third of the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until an internal temperature of 160 F is reached.

Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and let rest covered for 20 minutes before serving.

Strain the drippings from the roasting pan into a measuring cup, pressing the herbs and garlic into the strainer. Set aside and allow the drippings to separate.

Dredge the giblets on a large dinner plate in 2 tablespoons of the flour.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the bottom of the roasting pan over medium heat.

Add the giblets and saute for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in the roasting pan over medium heat until bubbly.

Gradually whisk the remaining flour into the butter and stir until smooth and lightly brown.

Separate the drippings from the fat and add only the drippings to the roux, whisking for two to three minutes or until thick and bubbly. Add half the stock into the flour and continue stirring until smooth.

Add the remaining stock and let gravy reduce and thicken before adding the wine.

Finely chop the giblets, stir in the cream, giblets, and hard cooked eggs (if using). Serve immediately.

Serving Size

Serves 8-12; Gravy makes 3 cups

Recipe: Creamed spinach with roasted cipollini onions and toasted bread crumbs

  • 2 pounds cipollini onions
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 (12-ounce) bags fresh spinach, stemmed and washed
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Place the unpeeled onions in a bowl and cover with very hot water. Set aside for 15 minutes to soften the skins. Drain the onions, then peel and pat dry. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add a 2-count of oil. Add the onions and saute until they are golden brown all over, about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and honey, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the mixture has reduced to a syrup and the onions are soft, about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Drizzle with a 2-count of oil, add the butter, and stir it around until it melts. Add the onions and garlic and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach in batches, pushing it down into the pan with a wooden spoon to help it wilt and adding more spinach as soon as there is room in the pot. Cook the spinach until it is dry, then reduce the heat and add the cream and nutmeg. Stir and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the creamed spinach into a baking dish and top it with the onions and the panko. Bake until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Serving Size

Serves 4-6

Recipe: Sweet and savory potatoes

  • 1 head garlic
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Slice off the top 1/3 of the head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place the garlic on a square of foil and drizzle with a bit of oil. Fold the foil around the garlic and roast for 30 to 35 minutes until soft. The roasted garlic can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Place the Yukon Gold potatoes in a large saucepan with the bay leaf. Add salt, and fill the pan with enough water to cover the potatoes. Place the sweet potatoes in a second saucepan, season with salt, and add water to cover. Bring both pans to a boil over medium heat and cook the potatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender.

In a microwavable measuring cup, combine the cream with the butter and garlic. Heat on high until hot but not boiling. Drain the Yukon Gold potatoes well, and pass through a food mill or ricer. Return the potatoes to the pan and add half of the hot cream mixture. Stir gently to incorporate, then season well with salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Set aside.

Drain the sweet potatoes and place in a food processor along with the bananas, honey, orange zest, cinnamon, and the remaining cream mixture. Process until smooth, working in batches if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, fold the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes together gently to combine.

Serving Size

Serves 4

Recipe: Warm olives and cipollini onions with honey gastrique

  • 1/2 pound small cipollini onions, halved
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups sherry vinegar
  • 2 cups good-quality honey
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 large fresh rosemary sprig
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef's knife
  • 1 pound unpitted mixed olives

Place the unpeeled onions in a large bowl. Pour a few cups of extremely hot tap water over the onions and set aside for 15 minutes to loosen the skins. Drain the onions and peel; pat dry.

Place a very large skillet over high heat and add a 2-count of olive oil. Add the peeled onions and the salt and sear until the outsides are nice and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. While the onions brown, combine the vinegar, honey, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in another skillet and bring nearly to a simmer over low heat. Add the bay leaves, rosemary, zests, garlic, and olives. Once the onions are nice and golden brown, carefully pour in the olive mixture. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the onions are cooked through and the liquid has reduced slightly and has a syrupy consistency. Serve warm.

Serving Size

Makes about 2 quarts

Recipe: Cornbread apple sausage stuffing:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 lb. loose Italian sausage (optional)
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 6 large cornbread muffins, torn into bite-size pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock

1. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and toss in apple cubes. Cook for about 2 minutes to add a little bit of color, then set aside.

2. In the same pan, add the olive oil, rosemary, and sausage, if desired. Cook until lightly browned, then add the onions; cook for 10 minutes or until golden. Scrape into a large bowl; add the apples and cornbread. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, and chicken stock; pour over cornbread. Stir stuffing, season with salt and pepper, and bake inside turkey or in a gratin dish as dressing. (For dressing, bake in a 375º F oven for 30 to 40 minutes.)

Serving Size

Serves 8

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