Sunday, November 20, 2005
Well here it is...what you have all been waiting for. First of all lets get one thing straight. I love to cook and I love football and watching SportsCenter and drinking beer so don't get any funny ideas about this post. Second I like to watch the food network quite often. One of my favorite shows is called "Good Eats" hosted by Alton Brown. The reason I like Alton so much is that he uses science to tell you why things work they way they do and me being sort of a science geek get all giggly when he tells us why a brine works and all about osmosis and diffusion etc. So a few years ago I was watching and I saw his Thanksgiving special. He had me at hello when he said something to the effect of' "Don't you hate dry bland turkey on Thanksgiving?" Well gave out an audible "Yes" and settled in for 22 minutes of magic. Needless to say I had to try his brining method for a turkey. What is a brine you ask? Patience my paduan...first let me introduce you to my wife. Jill is...how do you say...headstrong. She knows what she likes and is not afraid to speak her mind. I am glad that she likes me. So one year as Thanksgiving was approaching she dropped the bomb on me. She asked if we could not have turkey for Thanksgiving. What?!? No turkey?!? Are you an American? What about all that Pilgrim and Indian stuff? I was quite taken aback, but once Jill gets something in her head it will happen...and don't you forget it. Well I just couldn't imagine having cold hotdogs and sweet pickles with a cheese chaser(one of my wife's favorite meals) for one of the best holidays in the year (next to my birthday, mark you calendars, May 2nd, I have a wish list at Amazon). So I told her I was going to try something new this year with the turkey and if she didn't like it we could go for ham or at least add ham for next year. So I took Altons advice and went to Lowes and picked up a 5 gal. bucket and went to the store to get all the fixins for the brine. Most of my family was very skeptical but I knew I had science on my side. So there I was on Wednesday afternoon cookin' up the brine. It is a long process and I was wondering if it would be worth it. I followed the directions from my pal Alton and darned if it wasn't the best tasting, moistest (is that a word?) savory turkey in the world. I am hooked and so is my family. They all loved it...so much so we had turkey again that Christmas. This will be year three with the brine and I will never go back. Now I would like to deep fry a turkey some day but those big fryers scare me too much, to many bad encounters with the fryer at Wienerschnitzel (now that is another post all together). So here is the recipe from www.food.com:
1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.
A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.
Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.
Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.
If you have the time for this try it and you won't be disappointed.
Don't get the title of this post? Well pavo is turkey in Spanish (and Latin but that doesn't matter now), and it just so happens that I live on Pavo St. in Long Beach. And to top it off one year, many moons ago my dad made a hand-puppet out of our Thanksgiving turkey before it was cooked and made it fly around the kitchen. He called it Pavo Bob and that has been the name of our "meal" ever since. So there you have it a glimpse into my world. Have a great Turkey day everyone and if you need a good creamed spinach recipe I got one for ya. Until then. Adios.......
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