I’m a sucker for tradition and turkey is what I crave as the centerpiece of my Christmas table feast. I always choose to serve free-range turkey and I have to say that Crozier’s produce the best gobblers I’ve ever tasted. Raised on the clean, green, sunny mid-Canterbury plains and allowed to range freely, this natural lifestyle really contributes to a Crozier’s turkey’s fuller flavour and tenderness.
Over the years I’ve tried a variety of twists on the turkey tradition – everything from boning, stuffing and rolling a whole turkey; and various or multiple stuffing recipes; to cooking just the turkey breast-meat and adding this to a salad. About ten years ago, wet-brining became all the rage and so I tried this concept too.
Brining is the process of soaking the turkey overnight in a salty water solution before roasting and it works to inject the meat with both flavour and moisture producing juicy, tasty results and extra crispy skin. However, this process is a bit of a palaver and you have to find a vessel big enough to hold the turkey and the brine solution and space in your fridge to store the whole thing.
Now I’ve discovered an easier method and so I’ve moved on to dry-brining (also called pre-salting) – this gives all the flavour and texture of wet-brining but is less awkward to accomplish. I’m going to share with you exactly how to do this so you too can cook the most succulent and delicious turkey you’ve ever tasted.
This year, I’m loving using pomegranate molasses to glaze my festive turkey because it gives a wonderful sweet-sour flavour to the meat and to the gravy plus a fantastic bronzed colouring to the skin. You can buy pomegranate molasses from specialty food stores and some supermarkets.
Pomegranate molasses glazed turkey with onion gravy
4.5 kg Crozier’s free-range turkey, thawed
3-4 tablespoons sea salt
3 large onions, thickly sliced
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 bay leaves
2 pomegranates, to garnish
Start with a thawed, natural (not pre-seasoned) turkey such as Crozier’s Free-range Turkey. Remove the giblets (and reserve in the fridge for gravy making). Rinse the turkey inside and out and dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle the salt all over the turkey, starting on the underside, then the cavity, and finally the breast.
Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack set over an oven pan (to catch any drips) and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 day but ideally up to 3 days. You do not need to pat it dry before cooking.
Remove the turkey from the fridge one hour before roasting and let it stand at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 170°C and position the oven rack in the lowest part of the oven.
Place one sliced onion into the turkey cavity, tie the legs together with heatproof kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the bird. Scatter two sliced onions and bay leaves over an oven pan and place the turkey on top. Pour 1.5 cups of water into the roasting pan and add the giblets. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses all over the turkey and smear this into the skin. Drizzle over the oil.
Roast for 2 hours 15 minutes (as a guide, allow 15 minutes per 500gms plus 15 minutes extra), basting regularly and adding more water to the pan, as necessary. Cover with foil half way through cooking if the skin gets too dark. Remove the turkey to a platter to rest, covered with a tent of foil, for 15 minutes before carving. Garnish the platter with halved pomegranates, if desired.
Meanwhile, make the gravy. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the fat from the roasting pan and place in a saucepan. Remove the onions and all the pan juices (discard bay leaves) and puree together in a food processor. Stir 2 tablespoons of flour into the fat and whisk over heat to brown the flour. Whisk in the puree and pan juices and simmer until the flour has thickened and the gravy is smooth. Add a little extra water or stock if necessary. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper or perhaps a little extra pomegranate molasses, to taste.
Enjoy! And happy Christmas to everyone. Julie xx
Crozier’s Free Range Turkeys are not available from supermarkets, but can be ordered from butchers nationwide or specialty food stores, see this website for stockists: http://www.croziersturkeys.co.nz/products/where-to-buy/