Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Time to shop...

...for some new stamps and accessories!

Stampin' Up! is having a Holiday Extravaganza sale starting today and running for 5 days, and the prices on these bundles cannot be beat! So, what is for sale? Well, just pop on over to my official SU website at http://www.stampinkiminaustin.stampinup.net to find out. Once you are there, just click on the shop now button at the top right, then go to specials and "holiday extravaganza". I will be home all day if anyone needs help placing an order, so feel free to give me a ring!

And now, for the official Stamp-a-Rama Thanksgiving menu, complete with a recipie for the best turkey you have ever had in your mouth. Really. It will make you want to cry. It will make men want to give you jewelry. Trust me, I know of what I speak.

This year, we are having roasted brined turkey, cornbread dressing (yummy, sagey dressing!), sweet potato casserole with candied pecan topping, green beans, giblet gravy, and rolls. Dessert will probably be apple and pumpkin pies, both with insane amounts of whipped cream on them. Then I will have water and salad for the next two weeks to cleanse my system of all the rich, buttery goodness of tomorrow. But not today! Nope, today is preparation and tasting day, so that come tomorrow morning I can plop on the couch and watch the Macy's parade and only make minimal trips into the kitchen during commercial breaks only.

So, onto the turkey!

Do you ever get frustrated with trying to roast the perfect turkey? Did your mom used to set the oven to some insanely low temp and cook the turkey all day long, until it ended up like the one on "Christmas Vacation"? Well, no more, I say! Just follow along with me and I will lead you to the promised land of moist, wonderful, delicious turkey. Here is your cast of characters:

Brine ingredients:

2 cups Kosher salt (No, that is not a misprint. I meant cups, not spoons. And I meant TWO. Just get your mind over the fact that you think I am sitting here laughing at you, trying to get you to ruin Thanksgiving. It will all be ok in the end.)

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar (I use dark brown, but light is ok, too.)

1 good handful of whole peppercorns

1 handful of crystallized ginger

several sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme

any other spices or herbs that make your skirt fly up

4 boxes of Veggie or chicken stock (I buy those big boxes instead of the cans, not sure what the volume on one of those is off the top of my head.)

OK, let's get to cooking, shall we?

You want to bring your stock to a boil in a large pot, then add in all of the rest of the ingredients. Stir until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved, then let it simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Keep the pot covered while you are simmering. Take the pot off of the heat and let this cool completely on the stove top. I will be starting my brine as soon as I finish this post so that it can get done and let it cool. This part is very important: do not taste the brine! Just trust me, ok? Don't do it. Your mouth will get all askew and you will feel your tongue start to fold in on itself. It is saltier than you can imagine. We are talking Dead Sea here. Trust that your spices and herbs are working their magic and leave it alone.

Now, onto your bird. You can use any kind of turkey you want. I buy the absolute cheapest turkey in the store. There is no brand name. I'm surprised it doesn't come in the old black and white generic labeling, that is how cheap it is, but trust me, it will be tasting amazing tomorrow! Make sure your turkey is completely thawed out and you have removed the neck and giblets. (I feel compelled to put that disclaimer in here because we all know someone, or have been the someone, who cooked a turkey with the bag o' giblets still up inside of it.)

You will need a container large enough to hold your turkey completely covered in brine and a bunch of ice, so plan accordingly. I use a garbage can that has been deemed "the turkey can". It is only used for turkey, so don't think that I take my trash out and put my bird in. I do have some standards...lol! Plan on letting your bird soak in the brine for at least 12 hours, so you will need to do the next steps the night before you cook.

I put two layers of trash bags into my can to help me with clean up later. Put the turkey, neck side down, into your can. (If you are using a cooler or some other container where the bird is actually laying down in just put the breast side down.) Pour the cooled brine over the bird. If the turkey is not completely covered you can add enough water and ice just to cover the bird. At this point I roll the bags down over the top of the turkey and pack the top of the can with ice to keep it cool, then I put a towel on top of the ice as an extra insulation layer.

Typically by this time of year it is cool enough that I take my entire can outside and leave it on my deck for the night. The ice will keep the bird below 40 degrees, which is the safe limit. I will say that if you do this and you live in an area where the occassional coyote comes by you might want to put this in your garage so that he doesn't try to make off with a tasty midnight snack.

I know what a lot of you are thinking right now: "Kim, all of that salt is going to pull the moisture right out of the turkey! You have lost your mind!" You are indeed correct. The first few hours the bird is in the brine the salinity of the brine is going to pull most of the moisture out of the bird. You would not want to soak it for say, 5 hours and then try to roast it. That would be a disaster. However, after that first few hours a wonderful thing happens. Nature wants everything to be balanced, to be in a state of "stasis", so to achieve this balance the briny solution is going to start going back into the bird. And guess what! It is going to take the flavor of the broth, pepper, sugar, and herbs with it. It will be a flavor party like no other. Of course salt is like that one party guest that has a bit too much to drink and breaks something, you know the one. In this case, he is going to break down the tough fibers of the turkey. He is going to make them tender and wonderful and make them sing in your mouth. Yea for salt! (Kosher only for this recipe, though!)

So now you have let your bird swim around in his Dead Sea bath for at least 12 hours. Pull your bird out (you should still be seeing some ice in there folks!) and rinse him off, inside and out. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. I know, another leap of faith here, but there is a method to my madness. Fire it up, girls! I want it to feel like star about to go supernova.

Place your turkey on a rack and into a roasting pan. If you don't have one, get out your broiler pan, I have used mine for years and it works. Now it is time for a little turkey massage. Get out some veggie or canola oil and rub your bird down. Make sure to get his little legs and thighs, too! They are tired from all that swimming he did last night! I will also put a cut up onion and apple (just cut into big wedges--no seeds please!) as well as some fresh rosemary stalks and sage into the cavity of the bird. These aren't for eating later, they are for flavor while cooking.

Since our bird is about to go into battle with a smoking hot oven, he needs a little suit of armor for later. Take a large rectangle of aluminum foil and fold it into a square. Take one of the points of the square and place it down where the turkey's little noggin used to reside, then press the foil over the breast so that you completely cover the breast meat and wings, but tuck it so that the legs and thighs stay fully exposed. Get it molded to the shape of your bird, the take it off and set it aside. Remember that this has raw turkey juices on it when you set it down. I usually put my little foil breast plate away from all of my other food to avoid cross-contamination, because nothing says "I love you" like giving your entire family salmonella on Thanksgiving day. The reason you want to make your foil cover now is because when you need it this bird is going to be super, super hot and you won't want to be trying to mold anything to it.

Now, put your greased up, nekkid bird into the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. There will be some smoking as the oil heats up. Just leave the oven door closed, and keep any older female relatives away from the kitchen because they will try to turn the oven temp down on you, and this will be the death of your bird. After 30 minutes of not allowing anyone near the oven carefully take your turkey out and drop the oven temp to 350 degrees. Place a probe style meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set the temperature for the thermometer to 161 degrees. Cover the breast meat with the foil and put everything back into the oven.

Now sit back and have a tasty beverage while your bird finishes its roasting. Do not baste. Do not open the oven door. Just let it be. Believe me, it is working right now! When your thermometer alarm sounds that the turkey has reached an internal breast temp of 161 pull the bird out, but leave the probe in place in the meat. Cover the entire bird with foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving. This will let the juices get all settled into the meat and not come running out to lay on your cutting board instead of in your pie hole.

Cut, eat, and enjoy! One downfall, the only one in my humble opinion, about cooking your turkey this way is that you cannot use the pan drippings to make your gravy. They will be far too salty, so don't try it. The great news is there are other ways to make tasty gravy and the way this bird comes out is worth the small sacrifice.

Thanks for sticking with me during this long post, and I hope everyone has a great turkey day. I am going to try to get the hubby to shoot some step by step pictures as I make my turkey so y'all can see it later.

Have a great day y'all, and until next time, Happy Eating!

Kim

2 comments:

Lydia said...

YOU ARE ALTON BROWN IN A WOMAN'S BODY!!

That was an awesome Turkeytorial!!

Thank you!!!

I wish I was gonna be at your house!

Rose said...

Wow. That sounds like a lot of work. . . I've never made a turkey. We'll see about next year. LOL