Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey

I'm just going to come out and say with no false modesty that I make the most amazing turkey on the face of the earth. I can say this without being a pompous jerk because I do not take full credit for my success. I will now explain.

Have you been plagued personally or in your family by dry turkey that needs an unholy smattering of gravy to stomach? Enter Alton Brown. Sweet, sweet Alton...how I love thee. Last year I used Alton Brown's cooking method for roasting a turkey and it was absolutely phenomenal.

However, I did used my own concocted twist on his brine and aromatics.
This year I'm going to do it again but I'm going to try a different brine and gravy method. So, let me tell you how to make the most wonderful turkey in the history of the world.

You begin by getting one of these babies who so graciously give their lives for our stomachs.

Fresh would certainly be preferable but frozen is great too. Frozen does however come with a warning. Do not by any frozen turkey that's been injected with a salt solution or anything of the like. This would be a very bad combo with a brine. Also note that a frozen turkey will take 2-4 days to thaw. Now for the preparation of said turkey lurkey.

Open 'er up and take out the unmentionables. Now if you are like my mother you will save these for a little morsel to snack on later. You can also use it to make a fine gravy and that's just what I'm gonna do so take those nasty things and set them aside...we'll deal with them later. Then give the old bird, ha...a really good rinse inside and out.

Now you're ready for the brine. Alton uses this one...

Brine: (for a 14-16lb turkey)

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water
Which I used last year with a few changes (which I don't remember of coarse, I kinda fly by the seat of me pants) and it was great. This year I have decided to go with this:

Brine: (for a 20lb turkey)
3 cups Apple Juice
12 cups chicken stock (no or low sodium if using broth!)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup Kosher salt (careful I'd only do 1 cup if using salted broth)
2 Cups brown sugar
3 tbsp peppercorns
5 whole Bay Leaves
Peel of three large oranges
1 gallon ice water

Now I tell you how large these are because if your turkey is significantly smaller I would take down your salt ratio a bit or scale down the whole recipe.
Okay so when I do my turkey I brine it in a canning pot like this:

It fit my turkey beautifully and already had it. I'm sure it would fit in my fridge but it takes too much room. So since I live in Utah I just give it a once over in saran wrap and put it on my porch...it's usually cold enough.
Another option of coarse are brining bags or just XL plastic bags. If you go this route it may fit nicely in one of your refrigerator drawers and save on space.

To make the brine (most methods are simple and practically the same):
Pour all the ingredients except ice water in a pot and heat until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let cool. This can be made ahead of time and stored. 12-24 hours before it's time to cook the bird combine the brine, ice water, and turkey in your vessel breast down. Flip it half way in between to be sure it all gets covered.

When it's done brining rinse it in cold water like you have never for rinsed before...inside and out, every nook and cranny, for like 5 minutes. This helps it not be so super duper salty.

Now you are ready to roast. To prep the turkey you need to get it dry, dry, dry so your skin can get crisp, crisp, crisp. Place the turkey in a roasting pan with a rack.

Combine 1/2 an apple, 1/2 an onion, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with 4 sprigs rosemary and 6 sage leaves. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 152 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Okay, so be prepared for your grandma, mother, and everyone you know to say that your turkey wont be done after only two hours. Pay no attention to the nay sayers behind the curtain! It's all about the temp not the time. Now you may think 152, that doesn't sound hot enough...but there is a little something called carry over cooking which means it keeps cooking even once it's out of the oven. The bigger the bird the more the carry over so...You just want to be sure it comes up to about 165 degrees F before cutting.

Did I miss anything? Did I mention this is going to be the best turkey you've ever made, eaten, or heard of? I implore you to try it.

Please comment with any questions or what you do. And please check back for my gravy, sides, and dessert.

1 comment:

Marin said...

WOW that sounds amazing!!! Well I am not in charge of the turkey this year but I will for sure let my MOM know that this is what she NEEDS to do!!! Thanks for the post Sarah!

Oh and I love the talk with the two year old!!! haa haa!!! Love the sweet names!