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Turkey Four Ways

“Why eat turkey one way when you can use four different recipes on the same bird?” asks Jay Ducote of popular food and drink blog Bite and Booze, based out of South Louisiana. By portioning the turkey into breasts, wings, thighs and legs prior to cooking it, Ducote uses different methods and seasonings on each cut to create a memorable turkey feast. You’ll also find his secret ingredient — spirits from bourbon to beer — in each of these recipes, so crack open a bottle and get cookin’.

You’ll need 1 turkey, 12-15 pounds, fully thawed, cut into breast, wing, thigh and leg sections (reserve the carcass, including neck and other parts, for making a turkey stock).

Bourbon Barbecued Turkey Breasts

2 turkey breasts
1 pint apple juice
1 cup bourbon
1 pint apple cider vinegar
2 T crushed red pepper flakes
2 T BBQ rub (recipe at bottom of post)
1 yellow onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine apple juice, bourbon, vinegar, red pepper flakes, BBQ rub and onion in a large mixing bowl.  Stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Reserve a quarter (about 1 cup) of the liquid to use as a basting sauce while the turkey breasts are smoking. Place the two turkey breasts in the marinade, ensuring that they are completely submerged. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Set up a grill or smoker for indirect cooking. Remove turkey from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place turkey skin-side-up on the grill or smoker so long as it is not over direct heat. Regulate temperature around 275 to 300 degrees, and cook until turkey breasts reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 75-90 minutes. Baste the turkey breasts with the reserved basting liquid every 15-20 minutes while cooking. Transfer breasts to a platter and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing diagonally on the bias.

Spicy Beer Turkey Wings

2 whole turkey wings
3/8 pound of unsalted butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or turned into paste
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 T BBQ rub (recipe at bottom of post)
2 T dark beer like Abita Turbodog or Guinness
2 T buffalo-style hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate wings into drum and flap sections. Pat the wings dry with paper towel. Combine 1/4 pound of butter at room temperature with garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir ingredients together to infuse the butter. Stuff the infused butter under the skin of all four pieces of the turkey wings, making sure to loosen the skin from the meat, but do not remove it. It may be necessary to create pockets under the skin with a paring knife. Combine cornstarch with BBQ rub and rub liberally over the skin of the wings. Bake at 350 degrees, with a wire rack underneath if possible, until the wings have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about an hour. Flip wings over every 15-20 minutes.

Melt the remaining 1/8 pound of butter and combine with beer and hot sauce. Place cooked wings into a mixing bowl and toss in butter sauce. Serve immediately.

Seared Turkey Thighs with Brandy-Wine Cream Sauce

2 turkey thighs
2 tsp. smoked sea salt (or kosher salt)
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper or to taste
1 puya chili with stem removed (or guajillo or other medium-heat pepper)
3 T grapeseed, sunflower or canola oil, divided
1/2 ounce dried black trumpet mushrooms or other mushroom variety
1 cup hot water
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup cream
1/4 pound butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat turkey thighs dry with a paper towel. Lightly score the skin of both thighs with a knife in a crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle skin side with smoked sea salt and place aside to rest for at least 10 minutes. In a food processor, add the chili and 2 tablespoons of oil. Pulse the food processor to incorporate and make chili oil. Place dried mushrooms in hot water and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Heat the chili oil over high heat in an oven-safe sauté pan. Sprinkle the turkey thighs with black pepper and place skin down in the chili oil. Sear the skin side for 4-5 minutes and then flip the thigh over. Transfer pan to oven and continue to cook for 30-35 minutes until the thighs have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

In a separate sauté pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to stir for another minute or two.  Drain the mushrooms, chop them a little if desired, and add to the pan. Add some freshly ground black pepper. Lower the heat to medium. Add in the white wine and cook until reduced by half. Carefully pour in the brandy and continue to reduce for a few more minutes. Add the cream and again cook until reduced by half. Reduce heat to low. Stir in and melt the butter. Taste and add salt as desired. Once the butter is in, do not return the sauce to a boil. Pour sauce over turkey thighs and pasta if desired.

Red Wine Braised Turkey Legs

2 turkey legs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T flour
2 T olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery diced
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves, preferably Turkish
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
2 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock)
1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes

Heat a medium-sized Dutch oven with olive oil over high heat. Pat turkey legs dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle on salt and pepper and dust with flour, brushing off excess. When hot, brown the turkey legs in the olive oil for 7-10 minutes, turning as necessary to brown all sides. Remove the turkey legs from the Dutch oven and put aside. Add a little more oil to the pot if necessary, then add the onion followed by the carrot, celery and garlic. Stir and sauté until everything is cooked down and soft. Add oregano, thyme, bay leaves, paprika and red pepper flakes and stir. Add the red wine and deglaze by scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the broth and can of tomatoes. Stir again and bring to a light boil. Reduce to simmer. Add salt and pepper as needed, and then return the turkey legs to the Dutch oven. Cover and allow it to simmer for an hour or until turkey is fork tender. Remove the turkey from the pot and allow it to cool until it is touchable by hand. Pull the meat off the turkey and discard any skin, cartilage, bone or tendons. Return the braising liquid to a boil and reduce if necessary. Add the turkey meat back in and cook for at least another 10 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary, and serve over rice or mashed potatoes, or get crazy and eat it as a poboy with some parmesan cheese.

Bite and Booze BBQ Rub

1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 T ground black pepper
2 T kosher salt
2 T paprika
2 T chile powder
2 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. white pepper

Whisk all ingredients together.

Corn Pudding
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