Thursday, February 13, 2014

Any Season is Turkey Time.

The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States usually means it's time for a roasted turkey and stuffing; so much work and eaten in so little time. Prices in the markets go sky high for whole turkeys, or turkey breasts; days after, the same markets practically give them away. That was the case for a twelve pound whole turkey I purchased the day after Thanksgiving. While others jammed department stores for half price on televisions, cameras or whatever they desired; I was buying a frozen turkey for half the price and into the freezer it went for future use.

Finally, it was time to get the turkey out, defrost it and create; I decided to finally try the brine technique, roast and see what the difference would be from my usual sage leaves under the skin, roast and baste with butter method. I made a mixture of 1 cup each of kosher salt and sugar to which I added 2 tablespoons each of dried sage, thyme and celery seed, and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. I placed the turkey (insides removed) in an extra large, plastic mixing bowl (yes, it fit perfectly) and smeared the mixture inside and outside; any excess was put into the bowl. Next I covered the turkey with cold water, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator for a 12 hour nap. Sounds almost like sending the poor little bird for a spa treatment before sending it to the oven.

Next day, the oven was preheated to 325F; 8 tablespoons of melted butter was combined with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder in a small bowl.  The large roasting pan, with rack, was sprayed with nonstick spray; 2 cups of chicken stock plus 2 cups water added to the pan.  The turkey removed from the plastic bowl, placed on the rack and liberally basted with all of the butter/oil mixture.  I covered the bird with aluminum foil and in the oven it went for 3 hours.  After uncovering the bird, I gave it a good soaking of the liquid in the bottom of the pan; back into the oven for two more hours; a good basting every 45 minutes though.

When the internal temperature, at the thickest part, reached 180F, it was time for the bird to come out.  I let it rest on the rack for 15 minutes before moving it to a platter; the liquid in the pan would become gravy later on.  So, what did I think of the brining method?  The turkey was very moist, tender and juicy; the skin crispy and delicate; actually I didn't taste much difference from my method.  I thought it was a lot more work for the same result; my husband, being out of town for work, hasn't tried it yet, but the legs and wings are in the freezer waiting for him.  I took most of the white meat, portioned it out into freezer bags for use in recipes; one of which I will post next time.

The point of all this is, don't ever deny yourself something you enjoy to eat just because it is not a particular holiday. 

Mary Cokenour