Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap

So this is my first turkey! I have to give special thanks to my sister, who is the turkey expert in my family. In fact, she came over the night before Thanksgiving to prep and supervise the turkey cooking process. Thanks, sis!

I am quite proud of my turkey, even if it came out a bit salty. Lesson learned: Read the label more carefully in the future. It turns out I purchased a turkey that was a "basting" turkey, meaning it already had brine in it. And since we had already made the brine, we decided to brine it anyway.

Brining, in a nutshell, is essentially marinating your bird in a salt solution and seasonings, and any other flavor you want to add (we used apple cider). I had the Food Network on on T-Day while I was preparing other food, and nearly every chef sang the praises of brining.

We brined the turkey overnight in a large dishpan in my refrigerator, breast-side down. In the morning, I flipped it over, for even brining. Then around 2 pm, I prepped the turkey for baking. This entails three tasks: (1) spreading herb butter under the skin of the turkey (yes, under the skin - it fees a bit slimy, but a necessary step for crispy skin) (2) sprinkling seasoned salt over the outside of the bird and inside the cavity, and (3) dressing the turkey with the aromatics that we prepared the night before and stored in this ziploc bag:

In here, we have celery, lemon, fresh parsley, fresh poultry herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage), onion, and several cloves of garlic. Now, "dressing" is really a delicate way of shoving vegetables into both cavities of the bird. (yes, "cavities" - you can probably figure out what I mean by that). This is what the bird looked like before it went in the oven.

I then made a turkey breast "shield" out of aluminum foil, by pressing a double layer of foil over the breast. This is to keep the breast moist during cooking. It gets placed on the bird after it has a chance to brown, 30 minutes into cooking time. We make the shield now, though, while the turkey is still cold. I poured a can of chicken broth into the bottom of the pan, to keep the drippings from burning. I then stuck in the probe thermometer in the breast, and then into the oven it went! To get a nice golden brown skin, the turkey roasted at 450 degrees for the first thirty minutes. Then I dropped the temperature to 300, and placed the breast "shield' and just let the turkey slow cook until the alarm on the thermometer went off when the inside of the breast reached 161 degrees! (This took about four hours).

This is what the turkey looked like, straight from the oven.

Here is the method in a nutshell, courtesy of my sister:

The night before, brine the bird overnight

season the bird w/ salt/pepper/herbs on all surfaces, in and out

spread herb butter under the skinfill the cavity w/ aromatics (onion, celery, garlic, lemon, herbs)stick probe thermometer in breast

Add a can of broth to the pan - may help it smoke less during the initial roastroast at 450-500 for 30 min to brown it (open windows and blow out any smoke)

put foil over the breast onlyroast at 300 for the remainder of the time until temp reaches 161

pull out, set aside to rest for 15-20 minutes minimum (carry over will bring temp to 165)

Make gravy while bird is resting

For a 13 lb bird, you'll need roughly 3 -3.5 hrs of roasting time, so if dinner is at 7, you'll want the bird in the oven around 2:30-3pm

1 comment:

Rosann said...

This looks really awesome Cheryl! You are my culinary hero =)