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The Turkey is Done!

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How to Brine a Turkey

 

 

Brining a turkey seem like a daunting, messy process, but trust me; It is so worth every ounce of the effort. I use a brine recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse (recipe)

BRINE:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

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1. Measure the ingredients.

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2. Add water and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.

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3. Prepare your cooler with 2 strong kitchen trash bags. You can purchase bags specifically for brining, but if you make a large turkey, it is easier to use my method.

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4. Place one bag inside of the other so that you have a double wall of support and leak protection.

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5. Rinse the turkey and remove any “parts” from the cavity. Check both ends…

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6. Place the turkey in the bag, inside the cooler.

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7. Pour brine into the bag with the turkey.

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8. Squeeze out the air, and ensure that the turkey is completely immersed in the brine. Knot each bag tightly.

9. Pack the cooler with ice and store it in the garage or on your deck or patio, out of the sun, for 4-24 hours.

10. After the appropriate amount of time has passed, remove the turkey from the cooler, discard the brine, and rinse the turkey under cool running water.

11. You are now ready to roast the best turkey ever.

For the complete recipe, click here: The Best Freakin’ Turkey, EVER!

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ThanksgivingTimeline

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, and the preparation in full effect, I get loads of questions about what can be made ahead of time, and what must wait until the day of. Here is the timeline that will help you to spread out the workload and manage your stress.

1-3 weeks ahead

  • Send out an invitation and confirm guests.
  • If your guests are contributing to the meal, send out a list of specifics that you need. I used Sign Up Genius this year and it was wonderful and very easy!

3-5 days ahead

  • Go grocery shopping for all of the items on your list.
  • Wash and iron table cloths and napkins
  • Clean the house.
  • Get wine
  • Defrost the turkey (depending on weight, some can take 3-5 days to thaw)

1 day ahead

  • Brine the turkey
  • Boil the giblets with any extra veggies you may have floating around in the fridge. Strain and reserve the broth for roasting the turkey.
  • Purchase and assemble any flowers for centerpieces.
  • Set the table
  • Make the stuffing, but do not bake it until tomorrow.
  • Chill white wine

Thanksgiving Day

  • Put the turkey in the oven.
  • Make mashed potatoes in the morning and then keep them in your crockpot on “warm” until you are ready to serve.
  • When the turkey is done and resting, make gravy
  • Cook any side dishes, including the stuffing.
  • Try to do as much of your prep-work early in the morning so that you can wash those pans and dishes before anyone arrives.
  • Run the dishwasher and empty it  and the sink prior to the meal so that when you start clearing the dinner dishes, you have somewhere to put them all.
  • Hint– ask guests to bring their own storage containers, or purchase some extra at the dollar store, and share the leftovers with all of your guests. This prevents food waste and helps to keep your own calorie indulgence to a minimum! No one needs to eat pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes for 4 days straight!
  • Take a moment and enjoy the meal! You worked hard to make it, so be sure to savor it!
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The Best Freakin’ Turkey EVER!

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Turkey IS NOT turkey!

We all know what it is like to have awful, dry, sawdust turkey topped with watery, bland gravy that tastes of the floury lumps that plop out of the gravy boat. It is usually at the hands of a well-meaning, elderly relative that does not own a meat thermometer.

This post is an attempt to end the tradition of turkey travesty, and I intend to turn you into a turkey snob.

THIS IS THE BEST TURKEY!!!! It is unbelievable, and if you don’t use any other recipe on this site, TRY THIS ONE!!

Imagine serving the moistest, most amazing meat, topped with golden gravy goodness that will make you crave leftovers for days.

Go ahead, step out of your comfort zone, and just do it!

Now, to be fair, I cannot take credit for this. The original recipe is courtesy of Emeril Lagasse and can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/brined-and-roasted-turkey-recipe/index.html

But over the last ten years, I have made some adjustments that make it a bit easier.

Brined and Roasted Turkey

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001

Ingredients

  • 1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey
  • Brine, recipe follows
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 8ths
  • 1 large orange, cut into 8ths
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting

Turkey Broth:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Reserved turkey neck and giblets
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 3 cups turkey stock, chicken stock, or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 3 cups water

Gravy:

  • 4 cups turkey broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

THE DAY BEFORE–

Brine:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

To make the brine, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a non-reactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, plastic garbage bag.) Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary.

I cook a 22lb. turkey, so if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.

Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey and reserve for the gravy. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.

Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. I cook a very large turkey, so I put the turkey in a doubled trash bag with the brine. Then, I store it in a large cooler with ice overnight, on my patio.

 

THE NEXT MORNING

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Place breast side down in a large, heavy roasting pan, and rub on all sides with the butter. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the turkey with the onion, orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and thyme. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.

For the turkey broth: I add all the broth ingredients, along with the “turkey parts” into a medium pot and boil it for about an hour. Strain, reserving the liquid and discarding the solids. Reserve this broth for the gravy.

Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time.Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock. BE AWARE THAT THE BRINING PROCESS CAN SHORTEN THE COOK TIME! Keep a close eye on the thermometer.

Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

For the pan gravy: Pour the reserved turkey pan juices into a glass-measuring cup and skim off the fat. Place the roasting pan on 2 stovetop burners over medium heat add the pan juice and 1 cup turkey broth and the white wine to the pan, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 3 cup of broth and bring to a simmer, then transfer to a measuring cup.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Add the hot stock, whisking constantly, then simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.