Sunday, January 16, 2005

Braised turkey

Lately, when I wake up on Saturday mornings, I find myself thinking about what I want to make for dinner. Last weekend, it was fruit tart, which eventually gave way to a much simpler strawberry cobbler (see below). Not dinner, I know. So, yesterday morning I was trying to think of something nice to compliment the rainy weather we've been having. Also, I wanted to try to make use of the rest of the bottle of Big House Red that'd been open on the counter for more than a while.

What I came up with was turkey legs braised in a sauce of red wine and tomatoes. It's pretty much the same method I've used for osso buco, although I think that might have been white wine. Turkey legs are fairly inexpensive. A little over a dollar a piece I think. I had the butcher cut each on in half, width-wise, making one half look like a smaller drumstick, and the other half look a lot like a cut of veal shank.

When I started cooking, I quickly remembered that the last time I made this dish I had no chance of fitting all of the turkey pieces in one pot. That still held true, and I wound up using my le creuset dutch oven and a large, heavy bottomed saute pan. I browned all of the turkey pieces in the pan, removed them to a plate, and then sauted a mixture of carrot, celery, onion, lemon zest, garlic, and fresh bay leaves. I'd never had the chance to use fresh bay before. The smell was much stronger, with more of a eucalyptus quality. After the veg had softened a bit, I tossed in a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and allow it to "rust" slighly. Basically the paste begins to take on a more orange color and a slightly roasted aroma. At that point I added probably a cup, maybe almost two cups of red wine. I brought the mixture to a boil, divided it between the pan and the dutch oven. The thinner, drumstick portions were added back to the pan; the fatter, upper leg portions, to the dutch oven. I adjusted the level of liquid in each pan by adding chicken broth, then crushed some canned tomatoes over top of all of the meat. The dutch oven went into a 350 degree oven, the pan was covered and left to simmer on low. Both stewed for roughly 2.5 hours. I skimmed the fat off occasionally, and turned and basted two or three times. That was about the extent of the upkeep though.

I served the turkey on top of some celery root mashed potatoes--another thing I havn't made in a while and I don't know why.

There is, of course, the temptation to call this dish "turkey osso buco," which, I guess in some sense it is. But I've seen too many menus play with that term, offering up something very misleading, so I'm not going to do that. The final product did look, and taste, a lot like osso buco. I also decided to make a gremolata for the turkey at the last minute. The paste of parsley, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil didn't really do much for the dish either way.

To supplement the lack of vegetables, the 2005 cast of Alameda brought a huge salad, as well mix of other veg--eggplant, mushrooms, cauliflower, string beans, and broccoli--that were steamed in Guapo's pressure cooker.

For dessert, there were cupcakes, frosted with colors not normally appearing in the natural kingdom. There were pizzelles as well, with nutella. I swear, I'll get some pictures of them on here soon.

There was plenty of wine, courtesy of Alameda. We also managed to put a decent dent in my bottle of Fernet Branca. I've made a deal with myself that I won't buy another kind of bitters until I finish the one I have. This one's almost gone.


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