Toronto Day 5 : It’s Turkey Time!
OK, so I was really excited how my first turkey turned out last year, so I decided to make it for my family this time around. It was just a recipe I found on epicurious.com my absolute favourite resource (yes, I collect cookbooks too, but I really like the fail-proof rating system they incorporate into the site. I am very risk-adverse). The ingredients sounded scrumptious and incorporated things that made me love the Autumn time. For a copy of the apple-scented Turkey recipe, click here. Apple infused Turkey just sounded really good to me (I’m a simple kinda gal).
Last year was a disaster in my kitchen. This year ran a lot smoother. However, it was a brand new kitchen that I’ve never used/cooked in. So once again, it was a huge learning curve.
Turkey, Bacon, Butter?!?!? HELLO!? How could you not fall in love with this Turkey recipe? Luckily, most of the butter gets drained out later on, but it really helps crisp up the turkey skin. This lovely, sticky puree is inserted under the skin of the turkey before it’s roasted and allowed to rest and ‘marinate’ the turkey overnight in the fridge.
To pair with the turkey, I decided to make a simple sweet potato and raisin side dish. For a copy of that yummy and easy recipe, click here. I loved the idea of brandy-soaked raisins with crunchy walnuts tossed together with golden, sweet yams.
I was hungry soon thereafter, so what’s a girl to do, except go out in search of a tasty afternoon meal of … Jamaican-style Oxtail, Curried Goat and Beef Patty with Coco Bread! Yums. Being in Somerville, we don’t really have easily accessible Island Cuisine. I just love Caribbean flavours and E isn’t willing to drive to South Boston for it (I can’t really blame him, I guess there are horror stories and the barred windows, gated stores, abandoned cars and flaming garbage cans aren’t really that inviting. I kid. But not really.). I really, really wanted a fix of curried goat and oxtail. Oxtail is one of my favourite foods in the world right now (that and tendon. I’m not quite sure where these random cravings come from, but I digress).
Negril Jerk is a little hole-in-the-wall joint near my home in Markham. It’s literally a hole-in-the-wall. You order your food from a small cut-out in a wall that separates the waiting area from the kitchen. The food was great there the last time I went, so I couldn’t wait. I ordered my usual fixings and added a Beef Patty with Coco Bread because E & I were sharing and I was famished.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as good as last time. The flavours weren’t as punchy and vibrant. The heat was lacking and it just tasted muted. The patty’s texture was ‘off’, but it could be my fault because I stopped by a neighbouring West Indies grocery store to get some Jerk Seasoning and Curry Powder so that I could make my own Jerk Pork and Curried Goat at home. I ended up speaking with the Proprietor for a good 20 minutes about cooking/prep methods and nearby good restaurants with West Indies flare. She was super nice and helpful and helped me select the correct rubs and marinades for my home cooking.
After filling my belly with soul-warming nourishment, it was time to hit the turkey again. Today was just not my day, and my turkey wasn’t nearly as good as last year. It could be the turkey (Costco, versus a Natural Free-Range one I got last year myself), but I blame myself for not taking into consideration the variation of Oven Temperatures and such. You live and learn, I guess (I’ve been using that phrase a lot lately. Hmm…) The turkey was good, but it didn’t blow my mind like last year’s version. Of course, I could just have had too high an expectation (or a really bad memory). E loved it again. But I’m not sure if I can say he’s 100% objective LOL! (I punctured the skin with a temperature probe, and should have probably taken a picture of the unblemished side.)
The slightly overcooked turkey (I should have tented it with foil to prevent the skin from over-browning. As well as taken it out about 20 minutes earlier, even though the recipe requested it stay in there for even longer! Make not of that if you’re making the recipe. If you stick with the recipe, you’ll get one dry bird) was paired with the yams and the meal was completed with Moon Cake (I mean, if you start off the original Thanksgiving with a Peking Duck, you’ve got to follow the theme up by having Moon Cake Dessert for your actual Turkey Dinner!).
Overall, I was a bit disappointed with my performance, but everyone seemed to really love it. But they are my family and could have just been trying to be nice. The gravy really saved the turkey this time (I didn’t need the gravy last time around). Just make sure you tinker with the gravy until you get the taste you want. I ended up adding drastically more Apple Cider to get that Apple-Harvest flavour I really wanted. The skin was exceptionally crispy like I wanted, but it was quickly destroyed after carving. It was still a really good turkey, but I don’t want to churn out just a ‘good turkey’. I guess there’s always next year!
Happy Thanksgiving to my American Readers!! And Happy belated Thanksgiving to my Canadian ones.
Just as an UPDATE: I just got word that my friends out in Chicago (EatADuckIMust) just put together a video for a Foodie Blog competition. Please see it here . You will NOT be disappointed. I seriously haven’t laughed this hard for a really, really long time. This is a brilliant piece of work and it is NOT to be missed. The mood lighting, the great backdrops, the period costumes, the sensual molestation of tuna…err.. well, you get the idea (and if you don’t – just click and watch the video). It’s BRILLIANT. Best of luck J & A in the next round!!! If you guys don’t blow away the competition, I really don’t know what went wrong.
Negril Jerk Take-Out
2002 Middlefield Rd
Markham, ON L3S 1Y5, Canada