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Nov 9, 2008 05:54 AM

Julia Childs' Turkey

Not sure if this is thecorrect place to ask this but...
About 30 years ago I readf an article in a cooking mag-Gourmet,Bob Apetit,etc. about Julia cooking a turkey in France,I believe. In the article it explained how she cut the entire breast from the uncooked bird bones and all. She then bones the meat and put the slices on top of the sutffing. Then tied the bird closed. I would like to find a copy of that issue. I know it's a ong shot but I've never seen the technique anywhere else. I did it for several years on the Weber Kettle. Boning the breat and cooking it this way reduces the cooking time a lot. Any clues would ber appreciated.

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  1. Years ago, I used this technique on several occasions, but it's a lot of trouble with little return-on-investment, unless you intend to stuff the turkey with a chicken, the chicken with a quail, etc. I'd put the effort into making a deeply flavorful stock, which you cannot get using only bones torn from the bird on hand. That's why God made Whole Foods sell us turkey wings and drumsticks dirt cheap (last year, at least). Roast the spare parts (and appropriate vegetables) to a mahogany brown, and simmer slowly for hours. You'll have the foundation for a wonderful gravy that will improve everything from the first bite of the turkey to the last piece of pumpkin pie! ;-)

    If you insist on deboning the national bird, as with everything else, articles abound on the Web.

    For example:

    2 Replies
    1. re: sbritchky

      If you make a lot of stock, for making lots of gravy plus moistening the dressing, buying individual turkey parts gets expensive. This year I used 14 lbs of turkey necks at $1.39 a pound to make 168 ounces of stock. It would have been cheaper for me to have bought a whole turkey and used it for stock.

      1. re: schellter

        I make a great deal of stock, filling my 20-quart pot to the brim with filtered water and roasted turkey parts and vegetables. The delicious turkey that I order from Heritage Foods USA costs more than $11/lb. delivered, so the turkey parts from Whole Foods (under $2/lb. if memory serves) are cheap by comparison. Roast the bird to no more than 160 degrees, serve it with a long-simmered gravy made from that flavorful stock, and you're all set for one of the great American meals.

    2. You can find "Julia's Deconstructed Turkey" in Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. She doesn't actually put slices of the breast on top of the stuffing, she surrounds a mound of stuffing with the entire boned breast, and roasts the stuffed leg quarters as well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: janniecooks

        A good video to get, if you still can, is: "Trucs of the Trade". This is a video of many cheifs showing you their "tricks" in the kitchen that makes prep work or cooking faster. One of the tricks is Jacques Pepin (spelling?) showing how to debone a chicken by making only six cuts with the kinfe. I saw him do this to a turkey on a Jacques and Julia tv show. Amazing!

      2. Here are two links on Julia's Deconstructed Turkey, both seem to "leverage" her recipe, not sure how exact they are.

        good luck!
        (you have to scroll down a bit to reach the deconstructed turked)

        1. Sounds like the recipe as fully described in her cookbook Julia Child & Company, "Chicken Melon", but she demonstrates with a 7# capon. Lots of photos to guide you. She does allow that small to medium turkey would work well, too. It is generally a forcemeat, or pate of chicken, cooked in a "bag" made of the skin of the chicken drawn into a purse-like covering.

          I remember seeing her TV show and watching her domonstrate it. It is Very important NOT to cut through the skin as you're boning the bird. I htink if you rare comfortable with a sharp boning knife, it'd be do-able.

          The skin bakes to a rich dark brown and the forcemeat stuffing is chicken, pistachios, boiled hm, seasoned with cognac, tarragon, shallots, nutmeg, etc. The slices are beautiful and would be great for a buffet table.

          See if you can get it from your local public library. You may have to order it.

          1. In "The Way to Cook," Julia has a recipe for "Laid-Back Turkey." I use this recipe whenever time is an issue; a 15-pound bird is done in under two hours. To paraphrase:

            First, bone the turkey except for the wings and drumsticks. Reach down into the neck cavity and remove the wishbone, then lay the turkey breast-down and split the skin along the backbone. Scrape the meat and skin away from the ribcage on one side, cutting through the ball joints of the wing and thigh. Stop when you get to the middle of the breast; don't try to detach the skin from the keel bone yet. Bone the other side the same way. Lift the carcass away from the skin and carefully scrape the flesh from the keel bone to release it. Remove the thigh bones.

            Next, brown the "inside" of the bird. Put the turkey skin side down in a roasting pan, brush the exposed flesh with butter, and place about 7-8" below a hot broiler until the flesh is nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Baste occasionally.

            Finally, shape the turkey and finish roasting it. Set the turkey aside and make a big mound of stuffing in the middle of the roasting pan. Arrange the turkey skin side up on the mound of stuffing and roast at 350F until done, about 90 minutes.

            Don't know if this was the recipe you're looking for, but it cuts the cooking time in half without adversely affecting the flavor or smoking up the house. And as an added bonus, carving is a whole lot easier!

            1 Reply
            1. re: alanbarnes

              Thanks for all of the leads and advice.