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Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato-Roasted Turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m busy making pies (pecan pie from Craig Claiborne’s recipe!) so no new blog post today. But here’s an oldie but a goodie, first run way back in November 2008. I figure it might be new to most of you, and anyway, this food story contains the biggest, bestest Thanksgiving discovery made by Hubby and me to date. How we turned our turkey into a mouthwatering bird with a Peking-duck-like skin totally by mistake using sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Enjoy!

So, our Horse and Buggy free-range turkey turned out even better than we hoped. I wrote about our excitement at finally getting one of these things already, but now that the bird has been cooked and mostly eaten, I’m still reeling. Because without even really trying, hubby and I created something magical.

When Thanksgiving rolled around, as I’ve said, we just decided to stay home and create a meal with all the yummies that Brett and April of Horse and Buggy had already provided for us. Things like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, turnips, broccoli, and of course the aforementioned bird. We only supplemented with onions and carrots for roasting under the thing. And yeah, I caved and bought those tiny manufactured carrotlets. Just open the bag and pour in the pan. So sue me, I like how they taste roasted, and they’re damn convenient.

I made pie with some of the sweet potatoes and threw the rest in the roasting pan. Hubby chopped up the turnips and mashed them with butter and cream. Not bad, but maybe not something I’d necessarily request from grandma. The broccoli went into a stir fry with oyster sauce and crisped garlic, and the butternut squash was peeled, chopped, and thrown in with the bird. We also made stuffing (Pepperidge Farm, hubby’s favorite) and gravy, using Ina Garten’s foolproof recipe.

Hubby took the liver and stuck it in the frying pan. Cooked it rare with a piece of giblet. Then he took a piece of neck skin and fat from around the heart and rendered it down. Threw that into the food processor with some salt, pepper, and Bushmill’s Irish whiskey. Creating the best damn country liver turkey pate *I’ve* ever had. Great on a cracker and wonderfully tasty with our sauvignon blanc before the big event.

Then came the fun part. We slathered the bird with good ol’ crazy-as-a-cocktail-tree Sandra Lee’s herb butter, inside the skin, over the skin, anywhere you could tuck a pat of fatty buttery herby goodness. Salted and peppered the entire thing, and into the oven she went. Or he. Not sure but it sure did look good and ready for eatin’.

I let her roast for the next hour, then dutifully basted every 20 minutes. And that’s when the miracle happened. That bird came out beautifully brown, browner than we had ever cooked a bird, and we had used this recipe for a few years (it’s that good). But this wasn’t burnt, it was just golden and done. Like a Peking Duck done. And delicious. Juicy and full of flavor. But the skin was the kicker. It had crisped up better than any bird we had ever made. And it was SWEET! Sugary sweet like caramel. Or butterscotch. That paired with the buttery flavorful meat of the bird was almost too much to take.

I couldn’t figure it out? How did the skin get so sweet? And then it dawned on me. Sweet butternut squash. Sweet potatoes. Sweet caramelized carrots. All nesting comfortably under her for three hours. Only to be basted over all 14 pounds of her every 20 minutes. Those vegetables had released their sugars and then re-caramelized themselves onto the skin of the turkey. I felt like Columbus. Or that guy who translated the Rosetta Stone. Or Marie Curie, that’s it. Instead of discovering radium I had discovered sugar-skin turkey. Eureka! Butternut squash roasted turkey. Sweet potato roasted turkey. What a concept. I should give hubby credit because he did chop up all those veggies. But I was the one who set the timer and basted the thing. So I’m taking the credit for this discovery thank you.

The next day was even better. Turkey sandwiches this particular year were most particularly yummy. I’ve had one every day since Thursday. So has my husband. And we’re not stopping until that bird is GONE. No turkey soup. No turkey tetrazzini here. That bird will be eaten the way it was meant to be enjoyed as a leftover delicacy. On whole wheat toast. With Duke’s Mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and cranberry sauce. The jellied kind. Yeah, you snob. The JELLIED KIND. In the can. So there.

And what pray tell, happened to all the yummy roasting vegetables? The next day I pureed them with some of the turkey stock hubby made from the carcass, heated it in a Dutch oven, and added salt, pepper, and just a swirl of heavy cream. Very very good stuff. Yep, you could say this was a completely eco-friendly bird because believe me, no part of it was wasted. Talk about sustainability. All that white meat and Duke’s mayo should sustain me for the next year! Or until at least Christmas…

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