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This Thanksgiving, make turkey better

Daniel Neman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Entertaining

A soupçon of salt. A pinch of pepper. A glimmer of garlic. A crunch of coriander.

OK, it has a lot of ingredients. But they all blend together harmoniously to make something better than turkey. It’s flavorful and moist, but not too spicy.

But is it better than Peking-Style Roast Turkey with Molasses-Soy Glaze and Orange-Ginger Gravy? That depends entirely on your taste, and what you’re looking for in a turkey.

If you want a gorgeous mahogany color, an exquisitely crisp skin and a vaguely Asian flavor, then you definitely want to go with the Peking-Style Roast Turkey (though the Roast Turkey with Spicy Rub also creates a remarkably crisp skin). But you should know going in that it takes a fair amount of effort.

You begin by steaming the turkey for a half-hour. That’s what makes it Peking-style; it’s the same trick that gives Peking duck its ultra-crisp skin, and it works just as well for turkey. (I believe it was Jacques Pepin who first thought of applying that technique to turkey, or at least he was an early promoter of the concept.)

While the turkey is steaming, you make a glaze out of soy sauce, molasses, orange juice, butter, five-spice powder and more. This glaze is used to baste the turkey every 20 minutes while it roasts.

 

And even then you’re not done, because you still have to make the gravy. And orange-ginger gravy is unlike other gravies. For one, it has orange juice and ginger in it. But it also has shallot and garlic and cloves and star anise and allspice, plus just the right amount of dry white wine.

It’s a lot of work, but it all comes together for an exceptionally elegant meal — the sort of thing you only serve once a year.

Less effort, perhaps, but no less delicious is the Citrus and Herb Stuffed Turkey Breast, a dish reminiscent of braciole (stuffed Italian beef roll). And as in the case of braciole, it isn’t the turkey that makes this dish so good, it is what you use to stuff it.

The name says it all: It is stuffed with citrus and herbs. The citrus comes by way of the zest of an orange and a lemon. But the herbs? The herbs are plentiful, including fresh rosemary and tarragon and marjoram (you can substitute oregano) and a lot of parsley and a little sage.

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