My Thanksgiving drama has been retold too many times for me to repeat the story one more time. Here’s the summary: I offered to host Thanksgiving, bought a turkey, talked to my mom on the phone a couple weeks ago, was under the impression she was having Thanksgiving at her house, found out on Tuesday that we were in fact eating at my house.
So, let me catch you up. Last weekend, I was watching “Dear Food Network”, a special on Thanksgiving dinner. Alton Brown, (I love this guy) was talking about how to cook a turkey. First, he said, to unthaw the turkey quickly, put it in your sink. Turn the faucet on to the barest trickle it will trickle. Basically, turn it on just until it’s almost turned off. Let this run on the turkey. He says it will create convection on the turkey and unthaw it very quickly. “Whatever,” I said.
Well, Tuesday evening, I took the turkey out of the fridge. It had been there since Friday, and it was barely unthawed. I tried the Alton Brown trick, and by golly, it worked! Started the “trickle” at 7:30 and it was pretty much completely unthawed by 9:30. Alton Brown knows what’s up.
So far, he’s one for one. Wednesday, at work, I downloaded his brine recipe. I also downloaded Martha Stewart’s. Just in case. I combined the two. Let me just say, I’ve never brined a turkey before. Last year, I set out to do so, but the attempt was thwarted. My mom was making the turkey. I bought all the (very expensive) ingredients for the brine. When she put it in the brine, the turkey was still frozen inside. After she brined it, it was still frozen inside. So she soaked it in lukewarm water after the brine. It pretty much rinsed all brine off and took away any effects it might have had. This year, I’m in charge of the turkey. We unthaw according to Alton Brown. We take a gallon of vegetable stock, a couple shakes of pepper and a couple shakes of allspice, half a pint of honey and a cup of pickling salt. The turkey goes in a garbage bag and the brine gets poured into the bag. The turkey goes into a cooler overnight, and all goes as planned. I actually turned the turkey over in the brine after soaking breast-side down for about 12 hours. We soak for another 4 hours.
According to Alton Brown’s recipe, you rinse the brine off, which is good, cause the salt had kinda formed a paste on the breast meat. I trussed the turkey up tight and “liberally applied canola oil,” according to Alton’s instructions. He said a 14-pound turkey should take 2 to 2 1/2 hours to roast. My mom was skeptical. This turkey got really brown. The recipe said to roast it for 30 minutes at 500 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees for the remainder. Thirty minutes at 500 degrees might have been a bit much. The turkey got really brown really fast. But, just like the directions said, after 2 1/2 hours, when I put a thermometer in the thigh, it read 160 degrees. This bird was done.
So I let it rest, as recommended. I let it rest a little too long, since I didn’t have the other dishes ready. I wasn’t planning on the turkey actually being done in 2 1/2 hours. But this was the JUICIEST turkey I’ve ever eaten. No lie. Juicy.
I think it was the brine. We’re doing this next year. Here’s the turkey in the cooler.