Friday, December 25, 2009

How to cook a turkey so good your husband wants one once a month...

Seriously, folks.

Brine that turkey. It is, quite frankly, the simplest, easiest, most time/cost effective way of making a moist...tender...flavorful bird, that you can imagine. Keep in mind, I am not a baster, a clock watcher (well, I am if I have other casseroles and such to go into the oven, but still), or any of that nonsense.

1/2 c brown sugar
1 c kosher salt (the recipe originally called for 1 1/2 c, but when I tried that at Thanksgiving, we found it to be too salty)

Dissolve the brown sugar and salt in a quart of hot water (I put the water onto the stovetop in a sauce pan, add the sugar and salt, and stir with a fork til I cannot feel anything gritty). Once that point is reached, I added rubbed sage, whole black peppercorns, whole bay leaves, and garlic paste. And boiled it for a minute or two, then turned it off.

In the meanwhile, I had finally maneuvered that behemoth of a bird into a VERY large (to my mind) stock pot--the sort you use for frying turkeys, or cooking up a REALLY big batch of chili when your entire family is visiting...including cousins...

Pour the brining solution over the turkey. Now, pour cold water into the container with the bird....until the bird is submerged. I goofed, and Mr Tom was only "mostly" submerged. A portion of his flesh right around his neck region remained above water, but it was the best I could do, short of enlisting the help of El Husbando and his bad back, and the mandatory presence of a 22 qt pressure canner pot. No thanks. One huge pot to clean was enough, thank you....

I put a lid on the pot, and left it on the counter (no way I could have moved it). He stayed cool enough all night there, but if it had been any warmer, I'd have moved him to the sun room (totally poor name--it is on the north side of the house, we don't heat it, and it stays COLD...but I digress). Anyway, keep that sucker COLD as you can, overnight. Let the sugar and salt do their work, the spices and herbs work their way into the very cell structure of this formerly feathered denizen of the poultry yard...and wait...

I pulled him out (no rinsing, ladies!), put him into the pan (he BROKE my roasting rack! I get to go buy a sturdier one after the first of the year), and slathered him up with butter. You should have heard was awful....rubbing the softened butter in, asking him how his "holiday season" had been--as if it were a client and I a masseuse....I even did voices..."So, how are your holidays going, sir?"..."Wellll, not too bad so far..."...."OH, don't worry, because now you will end up on my table, BWAHAHAHAHAHAAA!".

Yes. I am strange, I admit it. I even "replayed" it for El Husbando, who came to see why his wife was laughing like the mad scientist in a grade B 60's sci-fi movie. He got a good chuckle out of it, as I progressed to sprinkling our now silent "friend" with a wee bit more kosher salt, and some ground black pepper, on top of the now buttery skin. Tent over it with aluminum foil, and pop it into the oven. I usually pull the foil off about 30 min prior to our believed "oven ejection time", as to get a good crispy skin layer, as well as a good brownish color.

This was delightful. The white meat was tender...MOIST....flavorful. If I had needed more convincing, after our experience at Thanksgiving (I didn't), I wouldn't need it now! We are planning to always brine our turkeys from now on, and maybe our roasting chickens, too.

I can, as you can tell, *highly* recommend brining your turkey. Just make sure it is thawed first. And remove the gibblets and neck, unless you WANT them brined...check inside that cavity (something I have forgotten to do from time to time...sigh).

It was a wonderful day, a wonderful meal, and I hope you will give brining a chance. I seriously had next to nothing to do to that bird, and it was done....

Let me know--have you ever brined a bird? What do you put into the brine, as far as herbs, spices, fruit juices....??? Inquiring minds want to know...

1 comment:

  1. HI, Rachel, so you grew up in Marietta too. Sadly, my dad's church is pretty much gone. The building I think is stilled owned by the Assemblies of God GA. district and has undergone a lot of changes since he left. I'm not even sure there is still a church there now, but the building is still there and it's not far from the Big Chicken off Roswell Road, about 2 blocks behind Roswell St. Baptist, if you know where that is.

    Thanks for coming by!