Thursday, October 28, 2010
Brining turkey is similar to marinading - adding flavour and moisture to meat by soaking for a period of time. As you can see here, I purchased an economy bird - birds with missing parts. This one has skin missing. Less often, economy birds are missing a wing, giblets or neck. I've never seen a problem with any of that. No one here eats giblets except The Cat. And even The Cat missed out this time when the uncovered liver and gizzard exploded all over the interior of the microwave. Sigh.
Wings are bony and tend to burn unless covered with a bit of foil. So it's okay if a wing is missing. And about the skin? Skin means fat, therefore less is okay and the bird will be sliced up anyway when served, so no one will ever know they are dining on second-class bird because the flavour and moistness will fool them into thinking this is 2.89/lb bird (which had the exact same thing done to it but in the factory) when in fact this is .95/lb bird - pretty cheap for Canada.
Use a non aluminum container large enough to hold bird and brine and fit into the refrigerator - a stainless steel stock or soup pot would work. Violinist has mine so I used my no-knead bread making container. The bird should submerge completely with a bit of headroom. A bit of the lower legs can poke out but if too much floats above the brine, place a small dish - concave side up - over the bird. The container lid pressing onto the dish should keep the turkey submerged.
To figure out how much liquid is needed, put the thawed bird with plastic still on it - it's just easier to handle - into the container and fill the container with water. Lift the bird back out. Measure the water to see how much salt, sugar, and other spices are needed.
For every gallon of water I use about 1/2 - 3/4 cup salt.
1/4 - 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sage
a few bay leaves, crumbled or whole
Whisk well, (some people heat it and then cool the solution down completely) put the bird into the container and gently pour in the brine. Refrigerator 8 to 12 hours. I've left turkeys in longer and overnight but thought the resulting bird too salty.
And, since we in Canada just celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, I thought I'd show how I roast turkey. Smear a bit of salad dressing or mayonnaise (I use Miracle Whip) all over the bird. Sprinkle with paprika, add a bit of water to the roaster pan, cover and bake at 350F. If one wants to shorten roasting time, cut the turkey up into pieces. The stuffing can easily be done on the stovetop and the bird will roast in half the time. Wasn't that a revelation the first time I saw Saucey Chef do that.
Baste occasionally with the pan juices. This bird was 12ish pounds - not big - and I left it whole. I baked it without stuffing and 3 hours was about right. To check doneness, wiggle the leg. It should readily move and pretty much fall off.
Let the bird rest about 15 minutes in the roaster but tilt the pan to keep the finished bird from "soaking" in the pan juices. Resting helps the meat firm up, making slicing easier. After this time, lift out and make gravy right in the pan over the stovetop. And that's how Decadent Housewife does turkey.