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--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lemon-Marinated Turkey with Golden Raisins, Capers, and Pine Nuts (and Poached Whole Turkey Breast that looks like the Loch Ness Monster)

On the whole, I think of turkey as a not-so-interesting form of protein, unless you count turkey SKIN, which I adore and could make a meal of. I mean, you do not want to leave me alone in the kitchen on Thanksgiving next to the turkey that just came out of the oven, especially not with a little kosher salt at my elbow. Because naked turkey is just sad, and stripping that sucker is what I'd do unless held back by the social convention of not sending turkey to the table with out its clothes--er, skin--on.


But it's really sort of odd that I'm not such a pal with turkey, considering that we cook with chicken all the time and it's not so different. Perhaps it's because turkey is so BIG, and it wasn't until recently that you could buy just turkey breast, or even turkey tenders. I guess the turkey farmers are getting good marketing people, finally.

And before I launch into the way the good old Italians prepare turkey, can I just mention that wild turkeys abound here in Rockport? And that every time I see one I think, "Dinner"? So fear not, KC (that's my brother who's preparing for the post-peak-oil societal crash) wild turkey is a potential food source as long as we can catch them, and considering the saucy way they take their time crossing the road all we have to do is speed up a little. Oh, we won't have cars, so we'll have to just go fast(er) on our bikes.

So let's get down to turkey business, which is that the first step to making Lemon-Marinated Turkey with Golden Raisins, Capers and Pine Nuts is to prepare a Poached Whole Turkey Breast. Which is where the Loch Ness Monster comes in. I couldn't decide which picture looks more menacing so I'm giving you both and you can decide.


I kind of like the side view--the top one looks like it would eat your hand if you got too close. I mean, not as scary as the monkfish down below, but scary in kind of a if you had smoked too much dope you might be a little freaked out. NOT that I do that sort of thing, seriously I don't. MaryJane was never my drug, I'm too much of a control freak.

But drugs and monsters aside, poaching the turkey was a pretty straightforward poaching experience, which is that you simmer your protein in water with aromatics until it's cooked through. Which in the case of turkey is a little more than an hour, which seems like a long time but for something that large it's really just right.

After it cools, you can do what you wish with it, and what I wished to do with it was proceed to step number two which was the above-mentioned Lemon-Marinated Etc., which the headnotes helpfully tell us is a typical Italian agrodolce treatment. That's "sweet and sour" for those of us who studied a language that we thought would help advance our careers. Italian just helps you seduce the ladies. Although, sometime remind me to tell you how I talked my underage way into a nightclub by feigning a complete lack of English, whereupon the manager (who had taken a few years of French) was hauled out to try to understand pauvre moi who had lost her luggage, including the passport which confirmed her legal drinking age of 21. Ha! All for crappy American beer, bad disco music and loutish fraternity boys.

Anyway, should you be in the mood to marinate your turkey, Italian-style, what you do is soak some raisins until they're plump, remove the zest from a couple of lemons, and the squeeze the juice out of said lemons. Then make a little vinaigrette out of the juice, some balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Combine it with the lemon zest, the plumped raisins, and about 1/4 cup capers, pour it all over the turkey and stash it away in your fridge for about half a day or up to 12 hours..

When you're ready to serve, take the turkey out and let it warm up on the counter, then slice and put on a platter. Strain the marinade, and sprinkle the zest, raisins and capers over the sliced turkey. Whisk chopped parsley and mint into the marinade, and spoon it over the top and then sprinkle the whole thing with pine nuts. I don't usually go into so much blow-by-blow with the recipes (thinking that maybe you might have the book yourself, or at least might find it at Epicurious) but this one isn't online.

For a gal who usually eats her turkey at Thanksgiving with cranberry sauce, this was a tasty, welcome change of pace. I really loved this treatment, even though the poaching step was kind of a pain in the ass. But still--summer is coming, and who wants to cook a turkey in their oven when it's 95 degrees? Not me. Although let it be noted, there IS a recipe for Grilled Turkey in here, so maybe this summer is the summer I experiment with large poultry on the grill. All this to say that cold poached turkey with lemon, raisins, capers and pine nuts might be just your speed when it gets sultry.

P.S. and I have it on expert authority that Adam is going to be trying this dish soon, so keep your eyes open for his take on it.


Georgia said...

Maybe this will be R's recipe for this year's Thanksgiving...in NYC!

efmclean said...

Hello Melissa -

I used to make this dish fairly regularly and have been looking high and low for the recipe. The dish was published as a heat saver for cooking in hot weather - poach the breast and use half for the lemon, capers, pine nuts and the other half for an orzo, black bean turkey salad. Both were scrumptious! Can you send me the recipes? I'm too broke to buy the book for the moment but have a lovely turkey breast that I'd like to transform!