Thanksgiving Hints as best as I know ’em

Boy oh boy, Thanksgiving is next week and I am having thoughts of turkeys dancing in my head! Delicious, delicious turkey! I can’t wait. :)

YB asked me for turkey cooking tips yesterday, which yay! Someone asking me for cooking advice! Haha:) Anyhows, I thought I’d make a post out of it. (Yay content!)

For the turkey:
Brine brine brine! I use SFGate’s Best Way Brined Turkey Recipe although I’ve heard good things about the Good Eats Roast Turkey. In a way, we combined some ideas from both. We’ve always used turkeys that are 12 lbs -14 lbs, less is ok, but too much smaller and bones start making up a greater and greater percentage of the overall weight of the turkey. Also, I prefer free range! Organic if you can find it, but free range FOR SURE! Although brining makes up for it if you absolutely can’t find free range or free range organic, I actually think that the free range turkeys taste better. The basic stuff that you NEED for the brine is the 1.5 cups of salt, the cup of (light) brown sugar, and the water. Everything else is optional, although since we’re both pro-garlic, I guess the garlic is a yes! Also, we add things like thyme or rosemary (everyone likes rosemary but me so I add a little), or whatever herbs (fresh or dry) we like depending on what we have. I put black pepper in cos I like black pepper.

Adapted ingredients list:
* 1 turkey, about 12 pounds
The brine:
* 1 cup light brown sugar
* 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups (kosher) salt
* 2 1/2 gallons cold water
* 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
* ground pepper
For roasting:
* 2 tablespoons softened butter + butter for basting
* 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock, or more as needed

Before roasting, after we rinse and pat the turkey dry, we rub softened/melted butter all over the damn bird (this is actually a bit of a chore). CT doesn’t bother, her philosophy is, there’s fat on the turkey. But I like butter. We like to grind black pepper over it though, and put a couple stalks of celery, a few pieces of carrot, some fresh herbs if there’s something you like/have extras of, a small onion (in strips) maybe, and maybe a couple of apple pieces. It’s just for extra moisture/good smells, so it’s optional. I don’t know if it does anything seriously. Don’t pack the turkey cavity too tight cos you don’t wanna stuff the turkey. No turkey stuffing! This is important! Basting is up to you. Just watch the turkey, it’ll give you cues. Maybe go with the recipe if it’s your first time.

For the gravy:
I use Alton Brown’s Gravy from Roast Drippings recipe (approximately).
I dunno though, I kinda half make it up as I go along. (This is why I believe in having an instant gravy packet or canned gravy around, fail safe.) But it’s nice to use the turkey drippings. Be sure to have low sodium chicken broth for the gravy, cos the turkey is brined, the drippings can be salty. I dunno they’ve been fine before too, so maybe take a quick taste and then decide if you wanna use regular or low sodium. (Is there an actual taste difference between regular and low sodium broth? I’m actually not sure.) If you feel like being swanks, you can use the gibblets and whosiwhatsits to make your own broth. If you don’t have a bay leaf, well no big. I’ve dumped mushrooms in it and called it mushroom gravy too. Maybe I’ll do a garlic gravy this year since I’ve just declared love for garlic.

Cranberry sauce:
Love this stuff. I make it sometimes as a plain cheesecake topping. Or whatever! I like the Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce recipe by Deb from Smitten Kitchen. It’s delicious! And it solved a problem for me — people seem to think that orange and cran are flavors that go together. Which is fine, except that I lurve cranberry! And when I’m eating cranberry sauce I keep thinking, the orange, it’s distracting me from my cranberries! But what she does with the orange zest and the small squeeze of orange is perfect. And I think she uses less sugar than the regular recipe from the back of the Ocean Spray bag. I like tart. But I’ve also made the sauce with just cranberries, water, and sugar before if I didn’t have the orange. Or used a splash of orange juice. It’s whatevs. (Y’know, this sort of weird thing about orange juice in cranberry sauce and the whole hate rosemary thing may be what my family is talking about when they tell me I’m picky. I’m pretty sure everyone else was fine with the orange juice and cranberries method.)

Anyhows, I think the most important thing is that the recipes are like a starting point. You should edit for your own tastes — like if you like cranberry sauce with orange juice (and I’m not coming to dinner!) never mind about what I said, obviously! :) Etc. Etc.

7 Comments

  1. I LOVE this!! Yes, yes, and yes! Superduper yum. I’m hongry!

  2. yum-o. i am going to use alton’s recipe for the turkey :). and mp seems to want to just use butterball, so i think we’ll just try that. i don’t know anything about free-range, but it says that it just means they have access to the outside, not necessarily roaming about. but like i said, i have no ideas. :)

    this will be my first time cooking thanksgiving dinner, but as i love to cook and entertain, i hope it works out ok. i’ll be making:

    – turkey
    – mashed potatoes
    – scones
    – flan!

    that should keep me busy for a while… i told mp i’ll be living at her house wed-thurs making all of this food :)

  3. i think al and i have stuffed the turkey w/an orange and a lemon (cut in quarters) and it was pretty good too!!! :)

  4. This year my wife decided to have a dry run thanksgiving day to test out her recipes. We soaked the bird in a brine solution she got at William Sonoma, it really kept it moist. OMG, the turkey was so good and I get to do it again in a few days!

  5. one more thing… my co-worker told me that for the last 4 years, she made her turkey using KIWI STRAWBERRY Snapple!!! no seasoning, no nothing… just pour a big bottle of Snapple over the turkey and use it to baste… apparently, the turkey turns out really moist and delish… and it gets rid of any type of game-y taste the turkey may have… oh, and the last hour, you take off the foil and sread butter on top so it gets nice and crispy… but that’s it! i’ll have to try it some time…

  6. pictures pictures pictures pictures :)

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