Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey 101

Dedicated to Gina, may your turkey wishes comes true.

For all those out there that can’t seem to get their turkey right, I am here to help. Follow my simple instructions, and you should be fine. But I am not guaranteeing anything. I mean maybe if I could come you help you and your Mr. Gobble, I could perhaps guarantee. My family and I make some pretty great turkey and with the help of some culinary school instruction, I believe to have a pretty good method for making a crispy skin, juicy bird. Read on, follow along and feel free to email any questions you have. And those who know how to cook a wonderful bird feel free to give any suggestions.

WHY I LOVE TO BRINE, but I won’t be mad if you don’t want to. Brining makes the turkey flavorful all the way through, not just its crispy skin. Brining not only ensures flavor but moistness; dryness being the most common ailment to Turkeys. Look at the bottom for brining instructions.

1. Preheat your oven to 450.
2. Take your turkey out of the fridge at least a ½ or an hour prior to putting the bird in the oven.
3. Stuff the bird with aromatic such as thyme, sage, onion, garlic, and lemon. I wouldn’t stuff the bird with stuffing, because as my teacher says “You are playing Russian Roulette with your health.”
4. Truss the turkey. Tuck back the wings. Make sure to secure the drumsticks. If you have no clue how to truss a turkey, click here. This is important to create a more uniform shape, hence more even cooking = BETTER BIRD
5. Turkey rub down: rub the bird with melted or softened butter and generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over the turkey.
6. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a shallow roasting pan. If your pan is too deep it will not cook evenly and not brown. Make sure a majority of the turkey is above the sides of the pan. Elevation is key. It should not touch the bottom of the pan.
7. Place the turkey in a 450F oven for 20 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 350F. Now just some simple math. The turkey should cook at 350 for 16-18 minutes per pound. So just know the weight of your bird and multiply that number by 17. There you go, an approximate cooking time.
8. To tell if it is done, do not trust anything that pops up out of your turkey. Take its temperature, 165 is done. If it is 160, don’t worry, you can still take it out, because of carry over cooking when it rests.
9. Rest the bird. It should rest for half the cooking time for up to an hour. No one ever rest the turkey enough. While it is resting make your pan gravy, heat up all the rest of the turkey accoutrements in the oven. If you do, it will turn out so much better and more moist. Cover with foil when it rests.

So it is not cooking: turn the oven to convection instead of bake
Not Brown: turn the oven back up to 450 for another 20 minutes.
Too Brown: turn down the oven temperature a little and place aluminum foil over the bird.

1 cup sugar
2 cups kosher salt
2 ½ gallons water
2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, smashed

Clean the turkey by removing giblet bag, any extra fat and any pin feathers. Rinse well under cold tap water.
Combine the sugar, salt and 3-4 quarts of water in a large bag. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve, and then add the remainder of the brine ingredients except for the remaining 1 ½ gallons water.

Double-bag two heavy-duty, unscented trash bags, (not made of recycled materials), then put them in an ice chest that is large enough to hold the turkey. Place the turkey in the doubled bags, pour in the brine, then the remaining 1 ½ gallons water – there should be enough liquid to completely submerge the bird. Press out all the air in the bags, and then tightly close each bag separately. Keep the turkey cold with bags of ice, which will also help keep it submerged in the brine. Brine for 12-24 hours.


Vera said...

Oh, this is a very informative post! I'm totally agree with you, Abby, brining is the must! Happy Thanksgiving!

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

The illustrations are so cute. You're an artist as well as chef?

MrOrph said...

Great tips and a very informative post.

I'm not brining this year because I bought a Heritage turkey. I cook them like game birds - hot and faast. Normally I brine all poultry and most pork.

sara said...

This is fantastic! Though I won't be cooking up a turkey myself, I sent your post to my mother and grandmother. They are both following your advice!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Manger La Ville said...

I probably should have done a vegetarian option. But you are such a good cook, I bet you make the perfect thing.

Heather said...

what an adorable little post! i love the illustrations :) i hope you had a lovely thanksgiving.

Heather said...

hey do you have a feed? i tried to follow you in google reader, but it says there's no feed...

Manger La Ville said...

Here is the deal: I tried to make a feed. But I am so not tech-savvy. I am pretty pitiful. But my lovely boyfriend (computer whiz) won't help me. I think he has some lame excuse like I should learn and not depend on him. So at the top of my blog page, you can sign up to get emails everytime I post. Or..some wonderful blogger could tell me the secret to making a feed. I am so glad you like reading it. Thanks Heather!

Lorraine E said...

Can you believe that I've never made a whole turkey? So when I do, this is where I'm going to for tips!