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November 1999 Issue
Honey Turkey
by Philip R. Gantt
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Honey Turkey

This recipe was inspired by the recipe I use for Peking Duck. I reasoned that if a duck can be made to taste so good by immersing it into a pot of honey water, why not a turkey? I must say that the results were very good. The turkey meat was slightly sweet, very juicy and tender. Everyone who ate it had favorable compliments for the chef, and the leftovers did not last long. I thought that this experiment was a very good success, and it is a recipe worth sharing and worth cooking again.
  • 1 small hen turkey, about 7 to 10 lbs, thawed or fresh
  • 12 oz. raw honey
  • 6 quarts water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup wine
  • 3 additional cups water
  • 2 pats butter
In a large stockpot, mix the 6 quarts of water with the honey and bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey, rinse, and then carefully immerse the bird into the boiling honey water. Reduce the heat to low and bring the water back to a simmer. Once the water begins to simmer, cover the stock pot and turn off the heat. This can be done a day prior to roasting the bird, if desired.

My busy schedule made it convenient to simmer the bird in the honey water, turn off the heat, and leave it to soak overnight. I roasted the bird the following day after letting the bird dry on the counter for an hour or so. This process of soaking allowed the honey water to penetrate the bird, sweetening the skin and the meat. If you plan to cook the turkey the same day, I would suggest allowing the bird to soak in the honey water for at least and hour after turning off the heat. Then remove it from the honey water and allow it to dry for an hour before roasting.

Honey is a natural preservative. Once the bird is allowed to dry, it will have a honey glaze on the surface that will inhibit the growth of bacteria. Once the bird has had an opportunity to dry, you may stuff it or not, according to your preference. I did not stuff my bird. Salt and pepper the bird to taste.

Preheat the oven to maximum (500 degrees or more) for 15 minutes before putting the bird in the oven. Place the turkey into a roasting pan and put it into the oven uncovered, preheated to maximum, for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 300 degrees F, baste the bird with a pat of butter, pour a cup of wine over the bird and add 3 cups of water to the pan. I used a rather light and mellow Rose for cooking the bird. A white wine such as a chardonne would also be suitable. I would avoid using a heavy red wine such as burgundy, however a little merlot might add a nice complexity to the flavor of the gravy.

Roast the turkey covered for about 1 hour. Then, remove the cover, add more wine or water if desired, and continue cooking for an additional half hour. Baste with more butter if desired. Finally, remove the bird from the oven and allow it to set for 20 minutes before carving. Allowing the bird to cool down slightly will cause some of the moisture to be reabsorbed into the meat, making the meat very juicy.

  • Yields: 6 servings with leftovers
  • Preparation Time: 4 hours minimum
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