Do You Name Your Bird?

by Marjan

A short few days remain until Thanksgiving! Hope you are planning your menu and enjoying the process just as much as the festivities! Every year, we post our favorite menu options starting with appetizers up onto dessert. This past month, we shared with you sweet potato jubilee, cheesy sage corn bread, and spiced pumpkin roll cake. What about the bird? That's coming up; but first, a short story:

When we first moved to our San Diego ranch and started our chicken coop, Anja visited us from Miami (where she was teaching and residing at the time prior to moving back to Switzerland). Curious as to whether our chickens are food or pets, Anja asked my mother: "Do you name your bird?" Having not thought of it before, my mother inquired the reason for her question. Anja replied: "In Germany, we don't name animals if we eat them". Without hesitation, shamelessly and matter of fact, my mother replied: "We don't name them here!" Both Anja and I were bemused with her sharp and quick reply and it has been a satirical joke since then!

However, this Thanksgiving I'm naming my bird Brandy! As you might have already guessed it, I'm using cognac brandy (typically served as an after dinner digestif) to exude richness and festive spirit to my bird.

Butter, brandy, herbes de Provence, orange and lemon zest will make an ordinary bird extraordinary. If your intimidated cooking with liquor, don't be! Really, any whisky, bourbon, or cognac will do.
Rightfully, the French refer to Brandy as "Aeu de Vie" (water of life)! So why not cook with it?

Minutes prior to the turkey's main entrance, I make a little show of flambé with maple syrup, orange zest, butter and brandy to entertain and capture my guest's attention. I brush my sweet glaze over my perfectly prepared bird two to three times over the final 15 minutes of cooking.
Can you smell it already?


I guarantee your guests will be impressed and satisfied with this year's Thanksgiving bird, named Brandy!

Serves 8-10
Ingredients: 

Turkey:
10-12 lb. young turkey
1 large lemon zest
1 large orange zest
4 cloves of garlic; minced
1 stick of unsalted butter; room temperature and soft
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence 
3 teaspoons fleur de sel or Sea Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pink peppercorn

Flambe:
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brandy
3 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 cloves of garlic; minced
pinch of salt

Stuffing:
2 medium lemons cut in half
1 fennel; chopped
1 onion; chopped
1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Gravy:
2 cups of chicken stock
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter

Defrost turkey in fridge 48 hrs. ahead of Thanksgiving.
3 hours prior to placing turkey in the oven, store turkey at room temperature in a strainer to drain off any stored juices.
In a small bowl combine room temperature butter, garlic, salt, pepper, herbes de Provence, lemon and orange zest.
Delicately, using your fingers, separate the skin from flesh of turkey as best as you can without taring skin. Generously spread seasoned butter to cover mostly under the skin with remaining to spread both inside and outside of turkey.
In a large bowl, combine lemon, fennel, onion, herbes de Provence, and olive oil. Mix well and stuff inside turkey.
Approximately 3 1/2 hours prior to serving, preheat oven to 425°F.
Set rack at lowest level in oven.
Lightly sprinkle turkey with desired salt and pepper on the outside and drizzle with olive oil to lightly coat.
Tie legs together loosely to hold shape, and tuck wing tips under to prevent burning.
Place turkey in a roasting pan.
Roast turkey for approximately 15 minutes at 425°F covered with foil and then lower temperature to 350°F for 3 hours.
Two and a half hours prior to removing turkey from the oven (which is 1hr prior to serving), in a small sauce pan, bring to boil over medium heat maple syrup and butter. Ten minutes later, remove sauce pan from heat and place on heat proof counter top (or sink); add garlic, orange zest, salt and brandy. Clear space to flambé making certain not to burn yourself or surroundings. Using candle lighter, carefully light brandy at arms distance (do not look into the pan as flames will ignite and burn!).  Minutes later, all the alcohol will burn off; place over medium heat for 7-8 minutes to boil. Brush brandy sauce over turkey every 15 minutes, three or four times during the next hour (do not cover with foil). Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of syrup for gravy.
Remove turkey from the oven and rest it on a serving platter for 20 minutes prior to serving.

Gravy:
In a sauce pan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of butter. Once butter is melted, add flour and whisk until until golden. Mix in remaining turkey juices (1/2 cup if remaining) and chicken stock to pan. Add reserved maple syrup with brandy and bring to a boil and whisk until smooth. Reduce heat and simmer until gravy is at desired consistency. Add salt to taste if needed.


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