Sunday, November 29, 2009

Our Thanksgiving

Just after Christmas last year, my parents moved out of state. This has so far made holiday planning a little more complicated, but just as great as before! For Thanksgiving, my sister and I spent the actual Thanksgiving Day at our respective in-law's celebrations. Friday afternoon, our parents flew into town and we prepared to have our belated turkey dinner at my house yesterday. In preparation, I warned everyone that I would be buying a farm fresh turkey for our main event. I say warned because my folks have always been dedicated butterball fans due to various dry-turkey encounters they've had. Butterball consistently delivers a moist turkey, there's no doubt about that.

Friday night, I enlisted Jay's help to brine the turkey. (He was not a fan of this, being adverse to all whole poultry.) Brining was the first step in my no-moisture-left-behind plan for our big boy turkey. (18.5 lbs!) I read from Polyface Farm's blog an easy ratio of salt to water for the brine - 1 lb salt to 1 gallon water. They recommended 4-6 hours of this treatment... but then I read about 99 other brining recipes, most of which recommended 1 hour brining per pound. These seemed like easy things to remember, so off we went! It wasn't until 10 pm that the light bulb went off...  most of the other 99 recipes were using significantly less salt. We (frantically) dumped out half the brine mixture, added a ton of water with the hose, and finally I went to bed.  After rinsing the brine off, my turkey friend got a nice injection of a butter, salt, and garlic mixture, a nice smoky herb rub and a nice cornbread stuffing and into the oven it went.

Final result? The most tender, moist turkey I may have ever had. The only problem is, we don't know if it was the brine or the injected butter or both! Looks like all our future turkeys will have to get the same treatment!

I've got the leftover carcass in my largest stock pot at the moment... swimming with some celery, garlic and miscellaneous spices - onion powder (sadly used up all the onion yesterday), fresh parsley, sage, oregano and thyme. It's sure to keep us in really great stock for months to come!

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