Monday, November 20, 2006

Preparing for Thanksgiving

A relatively small gathering this year, just the six of us and my parents. But with a whole lot to be thankful for.

I am (she brags) known far and near for my turkey. Many a person across the country will be making their turkey by my directions, known accurately enough as "Obsessive Turkey." Yes, you could just toss your turkey in the oven and as long as you didn't overcook it, it would be fine. But who wants to settle for "fine" on Thanksgiving? Juice drips from the meat with this. Darn tasty.


Step 1: Marination/brine (day before Thanksgiving)
Brine marinade:

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
splash liquid crab boil
1 gallon iced water

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stock pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5 gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a cooler with ice) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining. (I usually half the brine recipe and use one of those gigantic oven bags to marinate turkey in.)

Thanksgiving morning:

Step 2: Injection
Either use your favorite marinade or this simple one: 50% Italian dressing and
50% orange juice (with some tabasco thrown in). Using a turkey/meat syringe, inject marinade all over your turkey. (Fun to watch the turkey "inflate.") (Strain marinade before using or it will clog up the syringe.) Making mad doctor noises entirely optional. NOTE: last year, I injected my turkey of a blend 50% bourbon and 50% melted butter. WAY yummy.

Step 3: Stuff turkey with celery, sliced apple, cut up lemons and quartered onion.

Step 4: Cheesecloth
Take a double up length of cheesecloth, enough to cover the turkey, and soak in melted butter.

Step 5: Thermometer
Forget the pop-up thermometer -- splurge on an electronic thermometer. These are great. You put the probe in a thickest part of the turkey breast, and the thermometer is on the outside of the oven. (Thin wire connecting them.)

Step 6: Garlic
Take about 4 heads of garlic and wack them with a glass to break apart. (Don't peel cloves.) Scatter in turkey pan. These will bake and soak up the turkey juices and just be DIVINE spread on a roll. I think I might like the garlic better than the turkey. Note: if you’re cooking a fairly large turkey, wait and toss in the garlic, eh, about an hour after it’s been cooking. Otherwise, the garlic will overcook and turn into rocks.

Step 7: Cook

Put in the oven at 500 degrees and cook for 1/2 hour. Decrease temperature to 350 and cover turkey with butter soaked cheesecloth. Baste with chicken broth right over the cheesecloth (to keep the cheesecloth moist). Cook until thermometer reads 161 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil. Turkey will continue to cook, raising the temperature.


Nancy said...

My mouth is watering! That sounds fabulous and fun to prepare!

Kelli said...

Oh man..that sounds good. What time am I expected. :)

ogre said...

My obsessive is a different obsessive, but I recognize (and bow to) yours. There are pieces i'adopting and will, next time, I think. Must get syringe (mwahahahahaha). But here are obsessive offerings -- think of them as alternative paths of mad yumminess). Use wine for most of the brining liquid. I use TJ's two buck chuck, usually. With red wine, this colors the meat darker (also proving how far the brining went, so one can adjust future brining time). I fill the cavity with fresh rosemary for the brining period. And then I smoke it over hickory and use apple juice as the liquid keeping it moist in the drip pan. The smokey apple gravy is... Illegal in some states. Resulting turkey is very, very moist, and reminds some of bacon. Only very juicy bacon. It's tempted one vegetarian off the wagon.

Thanksgiving is a huge event for us. There are 30ish people, usually. Sometimes 40. So there is another bird, and it's roasted. I'm dutifully using your cooking details. But another obsessive touch here you might consider is that I cook the neck(s) into a rich broth which I am using for the basting.

But a syringe... Maybe I will be permitted a syringe for future use.