I started this post last Thursday night after guests left, actually. I didn't download pictures until tonight, though, so here it is, finally. I have gotten more compliments on this turkey than ever before. It was gooood.
I didn't really start caring about Thanksgiving this year until the day before. Honestly, that's what I figured would happen, since work is so busy right now. My aunt came and cleaned last weekend, but I figured I'd wait until my Wednesday off to start worrying about it.
And that's what happened. Around 9:00 after the baby was asleep and I was calming down, I thought "oh, yea, I was going to look up last year's recipe for making the bird, and decide on what I'm doing tomorrow."
My "recipe" ended up being a conglomeration of what I saw on Ina Garten's 4 minute Food Network free spot, Alton Brown's recipe from Good Eats, and the recipe I've used twice in the past with good success, from Rachael Ray. Some additional tips and ideas were gleaned here, the comment thread is very long but is a great conversation.
The Wee One and I had to make an 8 am grocery run for a few last minute things. That's what you get for not deciding on your recipe until the night before. She was very good the whole day. She's a lovely hostess, and she behaved well early in the morning in the grocery store, and into the evening with company.
So here's what I did. Wednesday night I cut the wrapping off the bird and rinsed it off. I put it in a white kitchen garbage bag (PLEASE plan ahead and buy a roasting bag or an extra-large ziploc bag. Garbage bags are NOT food safe. I, of course, did not plan ahead. So far everyone is still alive.)
Put in 1 cup of salt and 16 cups of water (1 gallon) to make the brine. If you plan ahead you can put all the yummy stuff on Alton's list. I did salt brine, and it worked fine.
Either pack it with ice in the sink, or put it back in the fridge overnight, where the bag will develop a leak and spill briney turkey juice in the bottom. Oh well, it was time for the new fridge to be cleaned well anyway. Again, the XL ziploc bags will prevent this from happening. It is not an essential step in the process, and it slows you down a little.
We were planning to eat at 4:00, so I didn't need to start cooking it until 1:00. I was thinking 18 hours in brine might be a little much, so in the morning I poured it all off. By then, I had been to the store and had bought a Reynolds oven roasting bag, so I put the turkey in that and covered it in water. That bag leaked too, so I put the whole thing in a big bowl in the fridge.
Time to cook. Butter the bird inside and out (I've never buttered the inside of a turkey before, it was fun).
I used a TON of spices, and the house smelled lovely and aromatic, almost pungent, while it was roasting.
The house had been decorated.
Table was set.
Somehow, I didn't get a photo of the finished bird. Seriously? How did that happen? Anyway, it was beautiful. A little more browned up top than where the legs were, but it got rave reviews at the table. Very moist and tasty. Somehow I managed to take a photo of plates and day-after sandwiches, but no brown bird. Hmm.
Yummy. I hope I remember what I did for next year. If not I'll just come back here!