Thursday, November 22, 2007

Oh. My. God.

THE best turkey ever!! I followed The Pioneer Woman's recipe for brining a turkey. It was by far, the most scrumptious bird I've ever eaten! I had bought the el cheapo 49 cents a pound frozen bird- 15.4 pounds, and was boasting as to how clever I was to my BF. He replied "It's not that Marvel turkey like you bought last year is it?" Which, in all honesty, was so dry we had to drink the gravy out of glasses to swallow- and I didn't overcook it! I swear! And umm... "Yes," I answered, "it IS a Marvel turkey. You gotta problem with that?" Coincidentally, Ree at The Pioneer Woman Cooks had just posted instructions for brining.

I also checked with Martha Stewart's site and found another similar recipe. Here's what I did:
Makes enough brine for one 15-20 lb. turkey
- 7 qts water
- 1-1/2 cups coarse salt
- 6 bay leaves

- 2 TBSP whole coriander seeds
- 2 TBSP whole black peppercorns
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 fresh, whole turkey (15-20 lbs), neck & giblets removed & reserved for stock
- 1 medium size onion, sliced thin
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bunch (5-6 sprigs) fresh thyme
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary 4" long, or 1 tsp dried
- 2 turkey-sized oven roasting bags (Reynold's brand or eq.), insert one inside the other to double
- 4 to 5 gallon pot, or clean bucket to hold bagged bird, which will fit inside your refrigerator- I cleaned my crisper drawer and it held everything perfectly without consuming too much room
1. Bring 1 quart water , the salt, bay leaves and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt is dissolved. Let cool minimum 10 minutes.
2. Line your 5-gallon container with a large brining bag or doubled roaster bags. Place turkey in bag. Add salt mixture, remaining 6 quarts water, and the other ingredients. Tie bag closed; if turkey is not submerged, weight with a plate. Try to keep breast side completely submerged. Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping bird once ( I didn't do this as my drawer was just right to hold the whole thing 98% under water.)
Roast per The Pioneer Woman: . I had a 15.4 pound bird, and followed her directions exactly (she mentions a 15 pound bird). After the initial slow roast and the foil tent is removed, I raised the temp to 375 deg. basted with butter then drippings every half hour, for an additional 90 minutes. My total cooking time was 4 hours, then I let it rest for at least 30 minutes .
The flavor was fantastic, the skin delectable, and it was JUICY, you could cut it with the side of your fork it was so tender. We didn't even save room for pie, it was so good. I'm even considering making it again for Christmas dinner, instead of my usual rib roast. I only make the beef for Xmas because the Thanksgiving turkey is always such a let down. Oh my god- I'll be talking about it for weeks!! Did I say it was JUICY??

I also made Slow Cooker Stuffing: , but with some tweeks- I wanted to try the procedure to see if it helped logistically in the kitchen, as far as oven space & attention, and I was very pleased- it's another keeper recipe. I'll post my version later. Typing this much is an extreme effort & I still have that last huge load of dishes to wash, while holding the turkey hangover at bay.

I also made butternut squash, peas, corn , mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, mashed carrots & parsnips, baked cauliflower with cheese sauce, and since I put the can of cranberry sauce on the table first thing this morning, I didn't forget that either!

For dessert I made an apple pie, but we didn't even crack that open. Emily wanted to make an orange cake for dinner with friends; we couldn't find a mix, so we doctored a white cake mix with orange extract & coloring. I frosted with a vanilla butter cream, because she was out until, yes- you guessed it- almost 4:00 am.
This is the dinner table partially cleared. That's Bob's plate to the left, mine is disappearing from view at the lower right- I didn't take more than I could eat, and wiped my plate clean. Oh- did I mention I went thru over 3 pounds of butter since yesterday? Really! I'd have to double check, but I used either one or two sticks out of the 4th box! Really!
Have to start washing - I'm the dishwasher!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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