Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Roast Turkey A La MommieV

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). 

In your shallow baking pan, put a few bay leaves, then the V-rack, then the bird, breast side down.  In a bowl, put quartered onions and apples and some water, and microwave for 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile shove tons of garlic, rosemary, thyme, and sage into the bird.  Realize you will then not have room for anything else, and pull a few out and throw in the bottom of the pan..  When the microwave bowl is done, stuff what you can in the bird, and dump the rest into the bottom of the pan.  Add at least a cup more water, or more, depending on the size of your pan.  Mine is very wide, and the liquid seemed to evaporate off quickly, so I added two cups of water.

In a small pan, melt a stick of butter with a few bay leaves, and whatever spices you pulled out of the cramped inside of the bird.  This is your spiced basting butter.  Baste the bird well.

I had the oven at 500, but my in-oven thermometer said 550, so I turned it down to 450.  20 minutes.  I had to add a cup of water twice because the water was boiling off.  After 20 minutes I turned the bird on its side and basted and turned the temp down to 350.  At some point I turned it on its other  side, not easy.  Then breast side up, again, not easy.  Cooked until internal temp was 180, just because I wasn't really paying attention because guests were here.  The high temperature to start is to seal in the juices, a la Alton Brown.  The turning was for even color, a la the Cooking for Engineers link above.  I think this is pretty much overkill, but it made for a really pretty bird when it was done.

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!


Jellybean Mama said...

Awesome, good work!

A large cooler is GREAT for brining a turkey - I actually used one of those big drink coolers one year. Like the kind that olds that McDonald's orange drink at picnics when you're a kid. Just bleach the heck out of it when done.

Also, if you plan to make homemade gravy, instead of putting water in the bottom of the pan use broth. It will actually enhance the turkey flavor as well.

I can't even think about turkey after eating it for 4 days in a row. Blergh.

MommieV said...

Actually, next year the 'rents and I are considering going to Gatlinburg for the weekend. That would be a perfect time to brine the turkey, during the drive, so I have considered putting in the cooler as you suggest for the drive down.