Hope everyone had a good dinner, turkey or not. I was just going to chill out this four day weekend but decided to go the turkey route on a whim. My son's wistful questioning of whether we will be having turkey was the catalyst. This time we went with a fresh turkey (diestel heidi) from Whole Foods. Whether it is the 'natural' part or PW's brine, the meat was much flavorful and tasted almost like chicken this time! Almost is the word. Another family brought their turkey and my son proved the point by going for seconds on ours:-))) Their gravy was way better than mine though...I am not going to write the whole turkey process again here but will add some notes. I see these notes are helping me to repeat the good results.
Basted the turkey with canola oil instead of butter and kept the windows open so going to 500F did not activate the smoke alarm. Next time I will bast a little more conservatively or use canola butter as the skin got a little more charred than desired. Inserting the thermometer after the 500 F step and poking until I found a reading in the breast area which was closer to 100F helped. I think another meter for the thighs may be needed for a larger turkey. It was a thirteen pounder this time. Alton Brown's video is good as always. I'll note down PW's brine recipe here with small changes I made since it was a last minute decision to go with it. I also used a new gravy recipe which, while better than my last one is still not there yet. It is not the recipe's fault methinks. I just need to try small adjustments until we find our own taste because the better gravy from our friends followed similar steps as my last try. They also added chilies while cooking and removed after wards. Having a fat separator for next time may be a good idea.
One thing about the meat thermometer you can do if you don't use it more than once or twice a year is to take the battery out when you store it so it will not get damaged. We had loved the stuffing from last year and it came through again. Bought some sliced brioche loaves which went amazingly well with the turkey dinner! PW's mashed potato is as awesome as it was last time. Our cranberry sauce came out as good as last time as well. A colleague talked about a tandoori turkey recipe that they used which came out good. I might try that next time (need not be next year) and will let you know if I do. Everyone got busy eating and so didn't get much time to take more pictures. The split Turk was all I could manage:-)
Turkey Brine (from PW)
In The Mix
turkey - 1 washed, pat dried and emptied of neck and giblets (13 lbs is what we had this time)
kosher salt - 1 1/2 cups
brown sugar - 2 cups
vegetable stock - 2 quartz
water - 2 quartz
fresh squeezed orange juice - from 1 orange
garlic - 1 cloves, crushed and minced
dried bay leaves -4 to 5
rosemary - 2 to 3 sprigs
orange peel - from 2 tangerines ( this is an awesome ingredient for the brine)
ice - 30 cubes
water - 1 gallon
How To Do
Boil all ingredients except the 1 gallon of water and ice in a large pan and completely cool down. Pour into brining bag placed in a 5 gal. bucket. Add the 1 gallon of water and half the ice. Put the turkey breast-first into the brine and add the rest of the ice. Zip up the brining bag and place all in the refrigerator. Add weights if the bird floats up. Take out and completely wash in cold water after about 16 hours.
This Year's Gravy (from food.com)
In The Mix
vegetable oil - 1 tbsp
turkey necks - 2 cut into 2-3 pieces ( got an extra neck from the meat dept. as there were no wings)
red onion - 1 large diced
carrots - 2 large, cut into 4 pieces
celery - 2 stalks, cut into 4 pieces
garlic - 2 cloves sliced in half
dry white wine - 1/2 cup
chicken broth - 4 1/2 cups ( my gravy got too thick and so i added more)
dried thyme - 1/4 tsp
all purpose flour - 1/2 cup
water - 3 cups
How To Do
In a stir fry pan, heat oil and shallow fry the turkey pieces for 10-15 minutes until they turn color.
Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and cook for another 10 minutes till veggies and turkey get browned. Move all to a large bowl.
Add wine to the pan, stir to loosen brown bits, and put turkey and veggies back. Add water, thyme, broth and boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. The stock is extremely tasty at this point. I wanted to give up the gravy idea and just wanted to keep it as a soup instead!
Things didn't go as smooth once I added the flour because the meat I had didn't have enough fat. I added the flour without thinking about it which made clumps and took a few sieves to clean-up. I am just getting the hang of it. With two gravy experiences under my belt I might be luckier next time making it more tasty...
Anyway once done simmering, strain into a fat separator or measuring cup and let the liquid sit for a few minutes. Once fat gathers at the top, skim it to get a 1/4 cup and discard remaining fat if any. Add this to the pan and add the flour slowly. Maybe a fresh pan may not have clumped the mixture. Fry the flour mix till golden brown and add the strained gravy. Mix well, let boil and reduce to gravy consistency. Once cooled it is ready to go with the meal or into the refrigerator to be heated when needed. I had to add more broth when I took it our for reheating since it had gotten too thick.
Once all got done, the house was cleaned up and we got time to rest a little and enjoy the view before guests arrived. Just forgot to click more pictures at this time..... Baking the bird is lots of fun and I love how the house feels when all of this is going on along with H and the kiddos. Until next time then and no, I didn't go shopping today. I am waiting until those shoes I want go on sale. I'll take a pair in the dark brown please:-)