Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Turkey Volume I

Ok everybody...here we go! Tonight I will start the fun process of my favorite part of Thanksgiving...the turkey. I begin with brining my turkey for 24-48 hours. We will be eating a late lunch on Thursday so I am going to get mine into the brine tonight. The brine will help make the turkey extremely moist and also add a lot of flavor.

First of all, you need to plan how long it will take to thaw your turkey. The rule of thumb is for every 4 lbs of turkey it takes 24 hours to thaw. So, if you have a 10-12 lb turkey, you will need to set your turkey in the refrigerator 72 hours before you plan on brining it. DO NOT let it sit at room temperature on your counter. If you are in a pinch, you can put the turkey in the sink in ice water but you MUST trade the ice water out every 30 minutes to prevent bacteria from growing. You can thaw and brine at the same time just make sure that the water is well iced. If you are thawing in the refrigerator, place the turkey on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan to keep it from dripping and contaminating other foods. I also place mine on the bottom shelf to be on the safe side.

The Brine:
(This recipe is one I have adapted from other brining recipes I made in the past. It makes enough brine for 18-20 lb turkey.)
5 quarts cold water
2 quarts stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
6 bay leaves
1 tbsp juniper berries (You should be able to find at whole foods or earth fare. If you can't find them, just leave them out.)
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp allspice berries
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 medium onions (just cut in quarters...no need to peel)
1 head of garlic (just cut in half...no need to peel)
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bottle dry sweet wine (such as a riesling)

Bring 1 quart of the water to a slow boil. Add the salt, bay leaves and spices. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Let cool about 10 minutes. Line a large container (large stock pot, cooler, or bucket - needs to be big enough to fit turkey and liquids) with a brining bag or trash bag. Place turkey in bag breast side down (remove the neck and giblets and place in ziploc bag in refrigerator for stock/gravy...they will be just inside the cavity). Add salt mixture, remaining water, stock, onions, garlic and thyme. Tie the bag. Weigh the turkey down with something heavy if it is not fully submerged in the liquids. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours, flipping turkey a couple of times. If you don't have room in your refrigerator, place the turkey bag in a cooler full of ice. Just make sure you continue to add ice so that the temperature remains at 40 degrees.

More to come...


Allyson said...

I love your new blog and look forward to making your recipes for my family :)

carlyn said...

love the blog. very cute!! can't wait to hear the rest of your Thanksgiving recipes. i made the RR turkey breast under a brick again. maybe i will try a whole turkey next year. the breast went super fast this time, my babies can eat!!

Talia said...

thanks ladies! i love that RR recipe it is so good. i was very tempted to at least make the gravy again this year but i've been doing a different recipe for the last five years so i thought i better keep with that. man, i can taste that gravy now ; )!

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