Worth The Effort?

I truly hope all of you faithful readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I was fortunate enough to get to celebrate (and eat) Thanksgiving twice. Our first feast was at my mother-in-law's home, and included a perfectly cooked nineteen-pound turkey. As wonderful as our actual Thanksgiving dinner was, my wife and I are chefs by trade, and were left feeling unfulfilled since we didn't get to cook anything. So, we decided to do the whole more or less traditional meal again at our house over the weekend.Seeing as how we had just eaten a simply roasted whole bird a couple of days before, we thought it would be fun to use this opportunity as an excuse to do something a little crazy and creative with the turkey we purchased.

The turkey for our personal feast was a pretty typical, twenty pound broad breasted white Tom, and it was going to take some doing to make it into something truly unique. At Le Cordon Bleu Chicago, the culinary school where I am a chef-instructor, we teach our students a classic recipe using whole chickens called a galantine. It's basically a roulade constructed out of a boned out chicken, with the ground, sausage-like dark meat portions in the center, surrounded by the butterflied and flattened breast meat, all wrapped in the bird's own skin! If it sounds a bit gory and goopy, that's because it is...but that's what's so fun about making it!

My wife and I applied this technique to our substantially larger turkey, unsure of what the results would be. Fortunately, the results were delicious. While grinding the dark meat for the stuffing, I incorporated some bacon, garlic, sage, and rosemary, binding the whole mess with a couple of eggs, some cream, and a handful of breadcrumbs. After layering, rolling, and tying the galantine with butcher's twine, it was a bit too long for any of our roasting pans or sheet trays, but we finally managed to rig a rack-like contraption and proceeded to roast it to perfection.

All in all, the two or three hours of butchery and prep time makes the turkey galantine much more involved than just throwing the intact bird into the oven for a few hours, but after witnessing the visual impact on our guests, and tasting the juicy, harmonious, turk-a-licious finished product, my verdict is that the extra work was well worth the effort.