Turkey ballottine - How to bone a turkey

Friday, December 26, 2008
I do realise this post may have been useful about 2 days ago, but there wasn't much time between finishing at 03:30 on Christmas Eve and starting again at 05:30, so you will have to bookmark it for next Christmas, when you dine in 2009.
Sadly, after the sudden death of Bob Buckingham in November, his wife, Elizabeth, was understandably under severe pressure this Christmas at the Smallholding in Chadbury, so our tukey came instead from Ann & Micky Meadows at Home Farm on Bredon Hill, whose family has been rearing turkeys for over 50 years.

Why do you bone a turkey?

Have you ever found turkey breast to be dry? The problem with roasting turkey on the bone is that the breast meat, being much thinner cooks quicker than the thick thigh meat, so by the time the thigh meat is cooked, the breast meat is overcooked. Cooking the breast and legs seperately avoids this. Boning them means they are both easier to carve and you can slice large slices that stay together i.e. it looks better when plated.

How to bone a turkey

1. The legs are taken off first.
2. Cut through the knuckle, then put the legs to one side.
3. Next, turning the turkey so it's sitting breast side down, the breast meat is taken off the bone, while keeping the skin in tact. This is like jointing a duck or chicken for saute, but in reverse. You just need to keep the knife as close to the bone as possbile. You take it to the top of the breast bone, then turn the turkey round and do exactly the same on the other side.
as shown in the duck ballottine (for more info see duck ballottine entry):4. You trim down the very top of the breast bone - where it is connectd to the skin. This removes the carcass which goes into a roasting tin, then the bones are roasted before being added to the stock pot (for more stock/ sauce info see Christmas 2007 entry)
5. Now the wingbones, still attached to the turkey are removed. Run the knife down the bone prising the meat away from the bone. At the knuckle, run the knife right around the skin to release the bone - which can be added to your roasting tray for stock.
6. The wing meat will still be attached to your turkey ballottine. Prise this away from the skin, using the knife if neccessary. This is saved for later.
wing meat removed
7. You now have just the turkey breasts. You will notice they have a thick and a thin end - thick at the neck and thin at the wing. If you roll them up like this when you serve your guests a slice of turkey, some of them will have a nice portion of breast meat, whilst others will get short shrift. To avoid this, ease one of the turkey breasts from the skin, first by hand, then finishing off with the knife, and put it to one side. Then prise up the second turkey breast. Now you can season the inside of the skin with salt and pepper, dot it with cubes of butter, and sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme which bastes the inside of the turkey as it cooks.
8. Then you can put back the turkey beast, turning one round so you have a thick end to a thin end. Roll it and tie up string:
Here it is placed on a potato trivet - potato, lemon and thyme, so the lemon and thyme aromas would be going up into the turkey as it cooked, and the butter and thyme would be basting it from the top.
Ballottine tukey leg - how to bone a turkey leg:

1. Run the knife down the bone as if you're scraping the meat from the bone. The more acurately you do this, and the sharper your knife is, the more it stays in tact.
2. Once you get down the the knuckle, pull back the meat you have already trimmed - i.e. turn the leg inside out. This exposes the inside of the knuckle, then you can cut around it, making sure you don't puncture the skin, then procede on down the bottom half of the leg.
3. Once you have removed the bone completely, you are left with small bones which are very like the cuttlebones in squid. Prise these up and run the knife down either side to remove them.
4. You now have a boneless leg, and you can trim off any sinew you can see:
5. Stuffing, here is sausagemeat, aricots, spices and fresh herbs:
6. To hold the stuffing in place, I add a piece of the reserved wing meat (see 6 above) to make up for the small amount of skin:
7. Then they are rolled, tied and roasted:

When is my roast cooked?
A temperature probe is your one surefire way. See more info on using a temperature probe on kitchen tip #32.
Christmas lunch delivery 2008

Christmas lunch delivered chilled to your door with simple heating instructions, or cooked and served in your home by chef and waiting staff - http://www.christmaslunchdelivery.co.uk/

Related posts:

Christmas Day 2008


Sam said...

I'm almost tempted to try this, I've boned a chicken before but never anything as big as a turkey!

I often use lemon and thyme when I roast chickens, I'm sure it's really good with turkey too.

James said...

A turkey is only like a big chicken - it's much easier than trying to do something smaller like bartridge/ quail - you're all fingers & thumbs then.

There's lemon zest with the butter & thyme too - I forgot that. Orange would be good too. Maybe sultanas too. Or you could mix up some spice rub. Or smoked salt instead of normal. So many variations - makes you want to cook it more often.