Thanksgiving, the day of all days for Foodies, allowing us to pull out all the stops and create a cornucopia of cuisines. A day for reflection and gratitude for all of life’s gifts and generosities past, future and present. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending time with my loved ones on Thanksgiving.
I remember watching my grandmother as she expertly cut vegetables and stirred simmering pots of delicious sauces and side dishes. This may very well have been one of the catalysts that sparked my interest in cooking in the first place. There was a level of wonder in watching such an experienced cook whisk and stir in a calm, controlled, yet vigorous pace. Year after year everyone that was at our house for Thanksgiving walked away full, content and with at least two plates of leftovers. I’m sure most people feel this way about their grandmother’s cooking, and I don’t blame them. The memory of some of those flavors and textures still boggles my mind to this day. I may never unlock the full power of my grandmothers recipes, but I will keep trying to get them as close as I can. For me it’s something to strive for year after year.
Everybody has a favorite holiday dish. Cranberry sauce, stuffing, green bean casserole, candied yams, and mashed potatoes are just a few of the many items enjoyed across the country on Thanksgiving day. Whether you bacon wrap, deep-fry, grill or roast it, in my house the big day isn’t quite the same without turkey. There are many tricks and tips to “the perfect turkey” and in this weeks edition of Foodie Friday, I want to share my recipe with you.
This recipe, as usual, is open to your own interpretation and should be used only as a rough guide in your journey to a great bird.
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
4 bay leaves
2 cups apple juice
1 gallon very cold water
1 15-18 lb fresh turkey (thaw if previously frozen)
4-6 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 medium yellow onion rough chopped
2-3 stalks of celery rough chopped
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 stick softened butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
Kosher salt for seasoning
Fresh ground black pepper (optional)
1 large plastic bag (I use Reynolds brand oven bags)
Rubber band or butchers twine
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, dissolve sugar and salt in the apple juice along with bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice berries and coriander seeds. Continue cooking until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Allow to cool completely. Once liquid is cooled stir into cold water and refrigerate until ready to use.
Place the rinsed turkey in the bag and fill with brine. Push as much air as you can out of the bag and twist it tight fastening it with butchers twine, a bread tie or rubber band. Place in a large container (sometimes the vegetable crisper drawer works for this). Leave in brine overnight periodically flipping the turkey over inside the bag.
Remove all but one of the racks in the oven, positioning the remaining rack on the lowest position, and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Rinse turkey well and pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Fill the cavity loosely with onion, celery and fresh herbs. Fold the skin over the opening of the cavity and tie the turkeys legs together with butchers twine. Rub the entire outside of the turkey with the softened butter. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan. Fold and place aluminium foil over the turkey to form a tent. Add 2-3 cups turkey or chicken stock into the bottom of the roasting pan. Baste every half hour well using liquid from roasting pan. Add stock as needed to maintain the level you started with but only do this if you already have the oven open to baste. Opening the oven too often can prevent your bird from cooking at the correct rate. Remove aluminium foil after 2 hours and continue to roast for approximately 4 hours or until the largest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees Fahrenheit when checked with a meat thermometer.
Once the the correct temperature has been reached and or the juices run clear you can remove the bird from the oven and allow to cool until you are able to transfer it to a serving platter. Once you have transferred it, allow it to rest for an additional 20-25 minutes before carving.
There are plenty of events happening between now and the big day that might just help get you ready or give you ideas. I have found some events on Brown Paper Tickets that are particularly interesting. Take a look and see if there is anything in your area. Have a happy holiday!
Sunday November 18th:
Face Your Food Pre-Thanksgiving Poultry Processing Workshop – Santa Fe Springs, California
Tuesday November 20th:
THANKSGIVING COOKING CLASS – San Francisco, California
Thanksgiving Floral and Decor Workshop by Lola Event Floral & Design – Edmonds, Washington
THANKSGIVING DAY! Thursday November 22nd:
Thanksgiving Dinner – Pasadena, California
Turkey photo courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tuchodi