Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of you!

I have several posts that I've been working on, but unfortunately, I've contracted the cold/sore throat from Hell and have been pretty much out of commission for the last week or so.

That said, while we don't make a huge deal of the Holidays, I do like to make a special meal. This last Thanksgiving we had just arrived at Bosque del Apache and shared a lovely meal with fellow Laze Dazers Art and Barbara Bergreen. Barbara cooked a small turkey and I made a turkey roulade that I had seen on the Food Channel. While it was OK, I know it can be improved on, so that's my mission for Christmas dinner.

To start with, you need a boneless turkey breast. For Thanksgiving, I got my turkey already boned at Costco, but right now Costco is just too far away, so I went to the Smiths Market in Socorro (a lovely market) and found a regular turkey breast with the bone still in it. A few nice words with the butcher and I had boned turkey breast (yeah, yeah, I could have done it my self, but the butcher does such a neat and tidy job!).

Before you start on this project, you have to prepare and cool your stuffing. Now there are millions of stuffing recipes out there, so use the one you like the best. For Thanksgiving, I used a wild rice and mushroom stuffing but found it kind of blah, so for Christmas, I'm going a more traditional route. I'll use bread, chicken stock, spices, cooked bacon, onion, carrots, celery, Brazil nuts, and pecans (because I love that crunch you get from nuts). I also like to put in a whole package of fresh sage, chopped really fine. It just seems that the fresh sage adds a nice flavor not achieved with dried, but again, that's a personal preference.

Whatever stuffing you make, it must be prepared and chilled before you begin this project.

Now, on to the turkey breast. You should have good size turkey breast, all boned and skinned. The one we bought was just over four pounds prior to boning and skinning. Use a nice sharp knife to cut it into a somewhat even piece so you can flatten the whole thing. Try not to cut all the way through as this will make it harder to roll out.

Next, put it in between two separate pieces of plastic wrap (one on the top, one on the bottom) and pound away, taking out all those shopping frustrations on this poor bird. The object here is to have a large piece of turkey that you can stuff and roll, kind of like a jelly roll.

Since I've relinquished so many of my kitchen tools for life on the road, I had to improvise. Scrounging through the pantry, I found a full bottle of olive oil and discovered that it makes a pretty good substitute for my meat tenderizer. Need I mention that it was olive oil in a plastic bottle? When you're done pounding, the meat should be about one half to three quarters of an inch thick.

Now you want to take the plastic wrap off of one side only, salt and pepper liberally, then pread a nice even layer of dressing on top of the turkey. Try to stay away from the edges as it will kind of mush out as you roll it up. Use the plastic wrap on the bottom to help you roll the whole thing up, keeping it as tight as possible and set it aside for a few minutes.

Take a nice sized piece of cooking parchment paper, large enough to roll the whole thing in, with a bit left over. Take uncooked bacon and lay it out so that when you roll the turkey in the parchment, bacon will completely surround the roll. I like to do the bacon in a lattice design, since it keeps the whole thing together better but that's not absolutely necessary. It's more important that the bacon surround the roll so it will be nice and moist

When the bacon is arranged, lift the turkey roll onto the parchment. This can be kind of tricky but just take your time. You want to lay the roll on the bacon and tightly roll the whole thing up. There should be paper left over on the ends, which you will crimp as tight as you can. Now, take the roll (which at this point should resemble one of the New Years' Eve poppers) and place it into tin foil and wrap the whole thing up again, all snug in its' tin foil blanket.

I like to prepare this the day before and keep it in the fridge, which I just did on this Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow, I'll let it sit out for a few minutes to come to room temperature, then pop it into a 350 degree oven about ninety minutes. I like to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. While all the books say that a turkey should be 165 degrees, I like to let it rest a bit before slicing, so I usually take it out at 150 degrees. It will continue to cook in the foil and in about twenty minutes, it should be up to temperature and ready to slice.

When you remove it from the the parchment, the bacon will be limp and pretty much cooked out, so you can discard it along with the parchment.

I just love the presentation this makes, and the bacon keeps the turkey all juicy with just a bit of the smoky bacon flavor.

I'll serve this with more dressing, some mashed potatoes and the old standby green bean casserole. A lot for just the two of us, but I just can't let Christmas go without celebrating a bit.

If you were here, I'd certainly invite you to join us!

And now I'm off to watch Christmas movies and try to continue recuperating from this cold.

Even feeling kind of punk, the weather is bright (but very cold at nights), the birds are still impressive and life is good.

Merry Christmas to you all.

As an added note . . .

I woke up this morning and looked out the window and saw this beautiful site.

Did you know that for just a couple of days, the moon is at its closest point to the earth in years? I guess that accounts for this shot (not as good as I would like, but it's what I got). Taken at 6:00am I was just thrilled at the look of the moon over the mountains while the sun was rising on the opposite horizon.

Once again, Merry Christmas

Life is good

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