Roast Turkey Slow Cooked

Our children are now young adults so without little ones in the house Christmas time for me is always a little sad. I miss not decorating the Christmas tree with them. I miss the magic of Christmas eve when you had to wait forever for them to fall asleep. Then sneaking presents into their pillow slips at the end of their beds when they finally did. And I miss watching their sleepy little faces in the morning light up when they see what Santa has brought them. Oh the excitement was twofold because I was also remembering how it was when I was a little girl.

This year I haven’t even put up a Christmas tree. There is just a simple wreath on the door and some tinsel around the trunk of the oak tree out the front of our house.

At least I have been able to keep on writing and will do so right the way through. I need to with all the rewrites and edits I have to do. The only day I will have off is Christmas day when all the extended family comes together for a big family feast.

My husband, Steve always cooks the turkey. It’s a very special recipe. The turkey is delicious because it is slow cooked.

The recipe is from the book “Ferment and Human Nutrition” by Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture; but the description below is in much more detail than that found in the book. It is actually pretty similar to the famous Chinese dish “Beggar’s Chicken” in that the bird is wrapped thoroughly, moistened, heated to high heat, and then left to cook from the inside.

Here it is if you want to try it yourself.


The night before Christmas:

Pre-heat the oven to as high as it will go. Meanwhile, wrap the turkey’s ankles with tinfoil. Moisten a clean old bedsheet with water, then wrap the turkey in it. Place in an oven pan. Pour a bottle of claret or other red wine slowly over the wrapped turkey, so that the sheet absorbs most of it. Cover the pan completely with tin foil, tucked in tightly around the edges.When the oven is as hot as possible, place the turkey in the oven, and leave for one hour (50 minutes for a very small turkey, 70 minutes for a very large turkey; avoid the temptation to leave it longer or you’ll have turkey skeleton and piles of meat — still nice but not very attractive). After the hour or so, turn the oven off, and go to bed.

Yes, turn it *off*.

The next day, several hours before the event, you will need to brown the turkey. So unwrap it: it’ll be pale-red with some red stuff–that’s the wine, not blood. If you’re lucky the meat on the legs hasn’t fallen off.

If you have made stuffing this is a good time to put some in the turkey cavity. Heat the oven again to 180C. Use a combination of honey and dark soy sauce (“Mushroom Soy” is best, Kikkoman is not quite dark enough, although better than nothing) to paint the turkey all over, place it in the oven to brown on one side, taking it out to paint once or twice over the next 30-40 minutes.

Then turn it over and brown the other side, painting again once or twice over the next 30-40 minutes. At the end you should have a nicely browned turkey that is cooked and very moist all the way through, with not much work (certainly not work at all compared to struggling with a salt-water turkey soaking bag and all that stuff). It is also quite energy efficient.

This recipe will work for all big birds or other meats, or even several smaller birds wrapped up together.

In the beginning, it is natural to worry that it will not cook through, but after using this recipe at least 12 times already, we only had one time it wasn’t quite cooked, and that was when (after over-cooking the year before due to worry) we had a larger bird and turned the oven off at 50 minutes. So the hour is just about right for a medium-large bird, and if very large do only a little bit more than that.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

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