Cooking with Pete and Barb Marczyk: Heritage turkey leg confit and roast breast

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Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with the big, new kitchen. They often bring some of their market's choicest ingredients home with them and cook up a feast.

Right, so turkey day is gobbling at our heels, and while it's perfectly acceptable (not really) to purchase a mass-produced Butterball from your commercial grocery store, why would you want to when a fresh bird -- specifically, a Heritage turkey -- is so much better? "People's interest in heritage birds grows every year," notes Barb, in part, because "they love the rich turkey taste."

The cooking of a heritage turkey, however, is slightly different from the broad-breasted white turkey that most people are familiar with. "Pete actually takes the bird apart, which wrecks the Norman Rockwell presentation but makes for a heck of a perfect roasted turkey," says Barb. And the method, she insists "makes it very easy to cook fork-tender legs and thighs and a perfectly roasted breast that's not dried out."

Heritage Turkey Leg Confit and Roast Breast

Ingredients:

1 heritage turkey with the legs removed and the back cut out. (Your butcher can do this for you, and if he can't, ours can.)

For the Dry Rub:

6 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon each marjoram, thyme, rosemary, and sage.
This rub can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container.

Enough oil, duck fat preferred, to cover the legs.

Turkey Leg Confit:

1, The day before Thanksgiving, rub the legs all over with the rub. Cover and return to refrigerator. Let stand at least overnight. (This process can take place a few days before Turkey Day). After 12-24 hours, rinse the legs under cold running water to remove the brine, pat dry.
2. Submerge legs in a large pan filled with duck fat. Put the pan in the oven at 225 degrees and cook for 5 hours. Cool, drain, wrap, and refrigerate. The legs will keep in the refrigerator for a few days if you like. (When you cook the breast on Thanksgiving day, the cooked legs can be returned to the oven, uncovered, with the breast until warmed through and the skin is brown.

Roast Turkey Breast

Note: "Temper" the roast before putting it in the oven: an hour or so at room temperature is good for turkey. his helps the meat to cook more evenly.

1. Rub all over with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Place on a rack in a sturdy pan.
Cook at 400 degrees. Depending on the size, the breast will take approximately an hour and a half to cook, but you can rest it for up to an hour in a warm spot, so don't worry.
2. Baste the meat with drippings frequently to help develop a nice brown skin. Remove the breast from the oven when an accurate thermometer reads 145 at the center of the breast. Loosely cover the meat and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

Reserve all pan drippings for a simple, rich gravy.

For more from Pete, Barbara and Marczyk Fine Foods, visit the market website. And be sure to check out Pete's blog.


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