I woke up this morning to find snow! Also warnings to stay home for now, the roads are apparently treacherous! No worries, my husband Mike and I have plans for the New Year wayyy later at around 9:30 pm and our only other plans for the day were to maybe go see Avatar and for me to do some cooking! So, I just did the cooking first.
We’re having “second Christmas” on Saturday at our house, which is really just yummy dinner with our friends and then gifts. We do it every year and usually my friend Jen does the delicious cooking, but she let me do it this year. I also hosted Thanksgiving for the first time ever this year: 16 people in our tiny little house and a 30 pound bird! I wanted to show my family that turkey can be amazing, so I did a LOT of research, including trying out this recipe a few weeks before for just Mike and me, and trust me, it is a WINNER! Jen requested it for second Christmas, so I had to oblige.
I got the recipe from epicurious, and its rather long, so I’m just going to link to it. HERE! The turkey comes out soooo moist and delicious, although I do add my own touches to the bird before it goes in the oven, which I’ll tell ya about when I get there! The gravy is also amazingly amazing and I’ll show you how to do that too! But, first things first:
Brining the Bird
People are often afraid of the idea of brining. Leaving it in tons of salty liquid for days? Are you crazy?! But, once you get over the fear and give it a go, I promise you will be so glad you did! The salt evaporates mostly when cooking and leaves you with moist, flavorful, delicious results! Making the brine is also really simple!
All you need is a giant pot or some kind of holding device, brining bags (which you can buy at the grocery store, but um, I’m totally a cheap cheater and I just use garbage bags. People argue whether this is ok or not, but no one’s died yet, so i guess it is!) kosher salt (MUST BE KOSHER, it means giant granules, not just that it is specially blessed!), whole peppercorns and whole allspice. That’s it!
Toss it all in a pot with four cups of water and let it simmer away til the salt is incorporated into the liquid. I stir it a lot to move it along and will be honest. To get two cups of salt to absorb into four cups of water might take all day, so I usually add four more cups and it goes quickly.
While this thing is cooking away, prep the bird by you know, removing the packaging, giving it a rinse and being brave and shoving your hand inside to get out that gross package of giblets and stuff. I always chuck it and never use it for anything as they creep me out, but that’s just me! I also leave the weird plastic leg holders in at this point as it keeps the bird compact in the pot while its chilling.
Next, as the brine is ready, add cool water to the hot to bring it to lukewarm temperature so you don’t boil half of your bird. Put the bird in the pot lined with two garbage bags and add the brine. Then just add water til the bird is covered. A good tip is to place the bird so that the breast is down in the pot, thats the part you’re gonna eat so it should be fully covered. It will not look pretty at this point but it will be delicious later!
clear a spot in your fridge, tie the bags up super tight so that no air can be found and stuff that pot in the fridge! Then you can leave it there for up to two days but at least 24 hours. After you take it out of the brine you don’t even have to rinse it off, just place it in your roasting pan with some paper towels under it, cover it with plastic wrap and put it BACK in your fridge for another 12 hours or so. So basically don’t make this guy if you don’t have a few days notice! I HAVE however, cooked it without the 12 hours resting period as I didn’t read the directions the first time all the way through and it was still really good, so I guess if you are hard pressed for time you can skip the drying out in the fridge part, but it makes a better browned and pretty bird if you can give it time to dry. Does that make sense?!
Anyway, this is where it will live til tomorrow afternoon:
tomorrow I’ll dry it out and Saturday I’ll show you how to prep it for cooking!!