Never, EVER forget!
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Some years back, I would watch FoodNetwork every holiday season to get ideas for our family’s table. I saw Ted Allen make a De-constructed Turkey and wow, the bells and whistles went off in my head. I’ve struggled with whole birds for many, many years. Dry white meat, under cooked dark meat, crummey gravy… Do I really need to go on? You know! This is how I make a whole turkey.
• 10-12 lbs. Whole, fresh, natural Turkey (read the labeling, make sure it does NOT say enhanced with sodium soultion)
Butcher the bird yourself (or purchase it in parts), leaving breast whole and reserve the carcass for homemade stock, much better!
Brine: (I do this part the day before I’m going to serve the turkey)
• ½ C Kosher Salt
• 1/3 C Brown Sugar
• 1 Onion, sliced
• 1 Carrot, sliced
• Peel (no white pith) from 2 Oranges
• Whole head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
• 1 tsp each, dried Thyme, Rosemary, Rubbed Sage
• 3-4 large Bay leaves
In my 12qt. stock pot, I add the salt and sugar, dissolve in 2 cups of hot tap water; add remaining ingredients, along with 3 quarts of Ice Water, stir well. Add the turkey parts (make sure that the water covers all parts of the bird), cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. Pour off all of the brine, leaving turkey parts in stock pot. Cover and put back into the `fridge until ready to roast.
Pat turkey parts dry with paper towels, arrange on the half sheet pan, fitted with a cooling rack. Try to give as much space between pieces. Schmear with soft butter; sprinkle with S&P. Pour about 1 cup of turkey broth or stock in the bottom of the pan.
Roast at 425⁰ for 30 minutes, until just starting to brown; lower the temp to 400⁰ and cook for another 30-45 minutes, until the breast reaches 165⁰ and the thighs are 175⁰.
Tent with tin foil until ready to serve.
Make the gravy by pouring all of the juices left on the bottom of the pan into a cup.
In a saucepan melt 4 tbsp of butter; add 4 tbsp of flour whisking for a few minutes. Slowly stream in 2 cups of the broth/juices and bring to a boil to thicken. For richer gravy, use some dry white wine and milk with the broth/juices.
When I take my mother to lunch at her favorite Taquería, she orders the pork chili verde, ever time! I figured I needed to make some for her at home.
I emailed to my chef-friend Joey for guidance; she recommended that I follow any Rick Bayless recipe. I did several internet searches and the easiest recipe I found was from Rick Bayless. Thanks Joey!
I actually morphed a few different recipes into my own using a jarred salsa verde made with tomatillo. If I made my own from scratch, it would have cost me a whole lot more and I just wanted to experiment with this idea first.
The rest of the cast of characters were a small onion, oregano, coriander, ground clove, lots of minced garlic and S&P to season the Pork Butt, about a pound and finally homemade vegetable broth.
I browned the pork chunks, set those aside and then sautéed the onion. Next, in went the spices and the meat was returned to the pot with the salsa and broth.
The pot was left to simmer most of the day, until the pork was fork tender.
Meh, it was pretty salty, but I think that was because of the jarred sauce.
After conferring again with Joey, she concluded that I try it next time with canned salsa verde rather than the jarred stuff. Now we know, we’ll try it again mom.
In my X number of years in the kitchen, believe it or not, I have never brined anything. Well, let me say that I did once, unfortunately I brined a turkey that already had 8% salt solution enhancement, ACK! It was a Thanksgiving of side dishes only that year, so I never tried it again, until now.
All of the turkeys or parts thereof, that I have prepared I’ve just chucked into the oven and said a pray, oh please kitchen gods, let my meal be good this once? Recently, I have been buying Jenny-O turkey breast tenderloins that are already flavored. It took me till now to look at more than the calorie count. MAN!
So back to the basics.
I searched the `Net, looking for a brine recipe that I,
a) had all/most of the ingredients for, and
b) sounded tasty
I settled on my own twist of a Bon Appétit recipe, with a few changes due to the lack of certain items.
I left out the Allspice, Juniper berries and fennel seeds, didn’t have `em; I used dried thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, 4 smashed garlic cloves and a palm-full of whole black pepper corns. In addition, rather than using fennel bulbs, I added the peel (with no pith) from a fresh orange, subbed the white sugar for brown and boy howdy! Let me tell ya’ friends and neighbors, that solution smelled mighty fine!
I had a fresh bone-in half turkey breast weighing a little more than 2 pounds. I gave that puppy a good wash and dunked him into my largest dutch oven containing the brine, covered it and stashed the lot into the ice box.
After reviewing the procedure yet again, I started to second guess myself, how long is ‘leave overnight’? 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours? When I Goggled that, the consensus was 8 hours. I pulled my turkey from its bath, gave it a rinse, patted it dry, discarded the now used brine solution, wiped out the pot and put the birdie back in and covered it back up… Into the chillbox until morning.
In the am, after my usual cuppa Joe, I preheated the oven and prepared the turkey for roasting.
I brushed it all over with melted butter and put together my own poultry seasoning in my mortar and pestle. Dried parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme… hey, isn’t that a song? … and savory.
Not having a rack small enough for such a meager amout of protein, I placed three ribs of celery in my quarter sheet pan and the bird atop those. Finally some Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper and into the oven with him!
Oh My GAWD!
Juicy, moist, savory, just gosh darn delicious if I do say so myself.
This was lunch as well as dinner for the two of us, well and lunch again the next day all for less than $5
Turkey isn’t just for the holidays or big family events. This can be an economical meal anyday.