I don’t know why I do the whole shebang for the two of us…guess it’s because I love to cook, and this is an excuse to spend a couple of days playing with our food. I think I’ve cooked a turkey almost every way imaginable, with the exception of deep frying. I’d love to taste one done that way. I’ll bring anything you like if you invite me! I’ve cooked it overnight in a paper bag, upside down, draped in cheesecloth soaked in butter…tented with foil, and so on and so on. For the past 5 years I’ve been brining my birds. In the past few years the salt water has been replaced with a brining solution. The first time, it was a purchased mix. These days, it’s our own concoction, and the one this year…oh my!
This year we used 1 cup of salt to each gallon of water, with 1/2 cup of sugar added to smooth it out. Heat that solution to dissolve the sugar and salt, and add in….2 Tbsp. pickling spice, 1 Tbsp. juniper berries, 1 Tbsp. peppercorns, 1/2 an onion – sliced, a whole head of garlic – cut in half, 2 bay leaves, 2 large springs of rosemary, 2 springs of thyme, a few sage leaves-sliced, 1 orange-thickly sliced, a bouquet garni, and a stalk of celery-sliced. Sprinkle on a generous dose of poultry seasoning just in case we left anything out, and bring just to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Soak turkey at least 24 hours. Roast, breast side down for 30 minutes at 425º, reduce heat to 300º and flip bird over. Roast until done. We lifted the skin and seasoned the meat with poultry seasoning and a few pats of butter. There was a big piece of fat in the body cavity, and it went up under the skin too.
Errors…well…I tried to keep the bottom of the pan moist, as it was full of carrots, garlic, onion, and so on and so forth…that didn’t work out as well as I would have liked. The turkey cooked so long that the veggies went way beyond carmelized, to charcoalized. The fat had incredible flavor, but we couldn’t use the pan drippings. Next year…add veggies at 140º. Also, don’t reheat the brussel sprouts for the same amount of time as the rolls. Add them half way through. Although they were really dark roasted, they were still good, because they weren’t burned, just super concentrated in flavor.
Good things…mashed sweet potatoes thrive and sparkle with flavor if you add just a wee bit of balsamic vinegar. Go figure. A tiny bit of chicken demi-glace can intensify the flavor of the gravy. We really liked the flavor of the meat with this brine recipe. Not only did it smell heavenly at all stages, it gave the turkey a lot of flavor. The breast meat was very moist when I cut into it.
Everything came out just fine. As soon as Turkey-Lurkey cools down, I’ll strip the carcass and start our annual batch of turkey something soup. I’m just too stuffed right now. Cleaning the carcass means I’ll end up eating at least a few bites…I can’t eat a few bites of anything yet. And oh, I want to!