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Preparing for thanksgiving, especially if you plan to cook a turkey, requires you to make some changes to the expectations you have of the outcome of the whole recipe. Jacques Pepin has believes that there is a way you have to cook your thanksgiving turkey. This method demands that you reach to the furthest corner of the kitchen cabinet and get out that caldron you normally preserve to help you when you are making steamed lobsters. Many might find this idea of using caldron weird and may not agree with him, but in the end his recipe will give you a cooked turkey that is well balanced, both soft and crunchy. The product, which is a white meat, will remain moist in the fridge and retain its tenderness even if it stays there for a few more days. Therefore, you should resist that natural instinct that tells you the turkey will not turn out well when caldron is in the recipe for preparing it. Though you are doubting whether what you are reading is correct and asking yourself over and over again whether Jacques Pépin is asking you to steam your turkey, well yes that is exactly how he plans to give you the recipe of preparing the thanksgiving turkey. He wants you to take the turkey and dip it into a big pot with a steam that will help to get rid of its fat by melting it. To help you ensure that the meat is well cooked he proposes that you cut the bird at its joints and focus on the parts with plenty of flesh like the drumstick, the wings and the thighs. This helps you cook the turkey thoroughly.
After steaming the turkey, the next thing he wants you to do is to bake it in the oven until the oven buffs its golden plane. The other thing he wants you to focus on is giving the roasted turkey a shiny finish: after roasting it, combine it with the trace of vinegar and the delicate fire of Tabasco to give it a unique look and taste. This idea may seem absurd, but this is not the first time a recipe appeared weird to anyone. In the past it was really absurd and unimaginable to think of a fat turkey deepen into a pan full of cooking oil. The idea of suspending a bird wrapped in a plastic paper bag seemed out of this world also. Nevertheless, it is now a common practice among many people. The awkwardness one feels when he or she tries a new cooking style seems to disappear after some time because a person gets used to it and sees it as a normal way of doing things. This is why people no longer find it weird to cook a chicken or a turkey in a gargantuan plastic bag. Sauna treatment for meat is not a new idea of Pepin and neither it is peculiar as he learnt from a Chinese expert in cooking, Virginia Lee, who prepared a sumptuous meal at the kitchen of Craig Claiborne by steaming roasted pork. This was in the 1970s and he adapted the idea.
While working with the French Culinary Institute and the Russian Tea Room, he learnt more about steaming and roasting of meat and how it could help add flavor and crunchiness to the meat and, at the same time, maintain its moisture. The moisture comes from the blast in the roaster. Steaming meat helps melt the fats, which later on settles at the bottom of the pot. This process leaves the turkey with rich gravy that makes meat firmly flavored because of the glaze that provides a smart counterpoint.
The idea of leaving out the glaze and using melted butter to polish the shell of the turkey may cross your mind, but Mr. Pepin does not support this idea. He believes that there is no need to increase the amount of fat in the turkey yet the process of steaming the turkey was meant to remove the fats off the bird and keep its moisture content high. He does not believe in adding fats to the turkey and he only advocates for a little addition of the gravy created from the fat deposits on the water. The idea of applying gravy is to maintain a bit of richness, but at the same time preventing too much consumption of fats. However, he cannot force you to follow his idea of putting a little amount of gravy in the turkey. If you are a big fan of fats, then you have the choice and you can add butter if you feel like it. The idea of using gravy is optional and if a person prefers his or her traditional way of doing it then one is free to do as he or she pleases. After all, Mr. Pepin will not be somewhere around your kitchen to prevent you from using whatever methods you want.
The idea of steaming the turkey combines both new and old techniques, and the good thing about it is that it will not take you a whole day to prepare your thanksgiving turkey. The process of steaming the turkey comes with many benefits, but this is just Mr. Pepin’s way of preparing the turkey. If you feel that your grandmother did it better, then good for you just make your choice and do what you think is the best for you. This way of cooking will not leave you in the oven waiting for the turkey to roast, but will only take a few minutes- and you are ready to serve a memorable thanksgiving dinner with a whole new perspective of a turkey recipe.