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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Embrace The Season

I finally did it.  I crossed over to the dark side.

I was at the market on a cool gray morning with low hanging clouds spitting a damp mist. Nobody was there. Nobody. I stopped by Bray's Farm stand to chat with a friend. With very few vendors there, they were there because they had peaches to sell. It was far from ideal market weather. I picked up a few ripe yellow peaches along with gorgeous highly acidic Carmello tomatoes.

Thankfully, it's been a long tomato season. They're still plentiful at the market.

After passing by familiar vendors on the way to my car, it happened. While marveling over wonderfully aromatic individually-bundled baby celery stalks from Elmwood Farm, I reached across the table and grabbed an acorn squash from a heaping basket of squash. At that very moment, I crossed the line.  I officially surrendered my lusty desires for vibrant fresh summer produce, replacing them with  more languid yearnings for mellow soft-hued autumn produce. Until then, I'd resisited the temptation by clinging to the final bright vestiges of summer. I finally acquiesced.

Inspired by that humble acorn squash, I decided to pull a full monty, throw convention to the wind, and roast a turkey for our Sunday supper.

Well........kind of.

A dear friend recently gave us a pound of gorgeous bacon from her family's farm. I used and abused it for our roasted turkey. 
After unfurling the bacon from its Not For Sale packaging, I overlapped several strips of the bacon on parchment paper before plopping a three pound boneless turkey breast on top of the bacon shingles, seasoning it with fresh rosemary, salt, and pepper.  I carefully pulled the bacon slices around the turkey breast, secured it with kitchen twine, and placed the larded breast into a roasting pan along with wedged candy onions and whole baby celery stalks.

I sprinkled additional fresh rosemary, salt, and pepper over the bacon harness, poured a cup of chicken stock into the roasting pan,  and slid the bacon-bundled turkey into a 350 degree oven to roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature was 165 degrees.


While the turkey made merry in the oven, I sliced the acorn squash into quarters and removed the seeds.

After seasoning it with salt, pepper, and olive oil, I slid the squash into the oven to par-roast, uncovered,  for 20 minutes before pulling it out and dousing it with butter, brown sugar, orange zest, freshly squeezed orange juice, and fresh thyme sprigs.

I covered the squash with aluminum foil and placed it back into the oven to roast/braise for an additional 45 minutes.  When the sqaush was thoroughly cooked, I pulled it from the oven and let it warm on the stovetop while the turkey finished roasting. The aromas wafting from our kitchen were ridiculous.  Turkey.  Bacon. Rosemary. Brown sugar. Squash. Heaven.

I melted into my tufted chenille parlor chair and joined Michael for a few glasses of wine  while we anticipated our Sunday supper.  Happy campers.

Eventually, I pulled the turkey from the oven and checked the temperature.  It was perfect.  The bacon had crisped and carmelized into a salty sweet aromatic bacon shell. I tented the turkey and let it rest for ten minutes while I tossed a simple blanched green bean, Carmello tomato, and chevre salad with a very light lemon vinaigrette.

Before slicing the turkey, I removed it to a cutting board, placed the roasting pan over medium heat, added a pinch of flour, and whisked together a quick pan sauce from the roasted turkey and bacon drippings. 

Using the bacon slices as a guide, I sliced the turkey into medallions, drizzled them with pan gravy, and feathered fresh rosemary leaves over the top. I dropped the candied squash around the turkey and spooned the salad into small bowls, nestling them onto our plates.

The turkey was incredibly moist and tender with succulent juices trapped and sealed within the crispy bacon skin. 
While the bacon provided salty crunch, the oozing buttery sweet roasted acorn squash balanced it with soft earthy undertones. Thankfully, the lemon dressed chevre-flecked,  green bean, and Carmello tomato salad provided welcomed acidity, slicing through the richness with wild abandon.


It's a new season at the market.
One I'll embrace with open arms.


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