By Popular Demand and special request.....
Prep Work-Make up some Herb Butter. I use parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme(easy to remember…just like in the Simon and Garfunkel song.) You can also add Garlic and Shallots. I usually make this a couple of days ahead if time. Save the leftovers…it will make the greatest cheese/herb bread you’ve ever had. Use a processor and fine chop/mince any combination of Onion, Celery, Carrots, Garlic, and Shallots. Make sure you don’t skimp on the garlic.
Take your turkey and prepare according to directions on bag(wash dry remove giblets neck etc etc etc).
When ready, take your hands and slowly loosen the skin around the breasts of the turkey. Work slow and deliberate and if needed use a paring knife to cut through any membrane. Try not to tear it as you're really looking to create a “pouch.”
Once that’s done take your room temperature/soft herb butter and liberally smear it under the turkey breast skin. Use as much as possible and even let it clump in pockets. Be gentle though and try not to tear the skin. The more you can use the better it will be. A lot will end up in the wing/thigh areas and that’s fine. You can also take some of the herb butter and apply it in the cavity.
Take some of the onion/garlic mixture and try and put some of the under the skin as well….wont be as easy to do as the herb butter but do what you can. Take the rest of the onion mixture and place it in the cavity. In the cavity, place some whole herbs on top of the mixture…what ever you have leftover from the herb butter is fine as well. You can also add mushrooms as well which will make the gravy a Beer/Mushroom gravy or a Red Wine Mushroom Gravy depending on what alcohol you use in the next step.
After that take any type of alcohol beverage….beer, wine, sherry, etc etc and pour about a cup or two in the cavity. Be sure to seal the tail end of the turkey if needed so the cavity creates a pocket. Use toothpicks or twine if needed. Basically this step creates an interior steam pocket that will flavor the meat and the juice for use in the gravy. After you’ve poured the alcohol truss the bird with twine. You’re almost done now!
Next take Salt and Pepper and any other spices you like (Paul Prudhomes Poultry Magic is a good one to use and I’m sure Emeril probably has something out now as well, is there is a Penzeys Spice in your area pick up some of their Northwoods Seasoning) and dust the outside of the bird. Put into a cooking bag and follow the directions from there.
For the gravy you can do it two ways. I use an aluminum turkey tray when I cook my turkey so I simply take the turkey out of the bag and scrape out all the mixture from the cavity and any skin/meat that’s in the bag and pour it into the pan for a home style gravy. Or you can make a bit classier gravy by straining all of the juice through a cheesecloth and using the stock to make a cream type smooth gravy. Either way is fine….they’ll both be delicious. If you used mushroom take them out and set aside. They’ll serve as a nice side dish or garnish even. If you like, rough chop them and add them to the gravy in the final minutes of cooking.
Other tips-For the butter use some of the more expensive European Butter. It’s got higher fat content and will taste much better. Pflugra butter is one brand if I’m not mistaken. They also have Irish and Danish butter as well.
For the alcohol: use good quality stuff. A cheap wine isn’t going to be nearly as impressive as if you use some quality stuff. Same goes for the beer if you use it-get a good thick dark Guinness style beer. You probably wont taste any difference-but its thanksgiving; shell out an extra buck or two just to say you did.
When making the gravy…..at the least go with half and half. If Possible use whole cream.
If anyone has any questions or wants to add their two cents feel free!