Since I’m in the mood for tip-giving… I hope everyone in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving however you chose to celebrate it. We had my mom and stepdad over for a nice family dinner with all the requisites, including a lot of home-made goodies from my wonderful wife (fresh biscuits from scratch, sweet potato casserole, etc.) and several scrumptious pies.
The turkey, which was my job, turned out great. I use Alton Brown’s recipe for brining (as I do every year), doubling it for the 20-pound turkey (fresh, no additives!) we cook. It’s basically a solution of OJ, kosher salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, and broth used to help the meat absorb moisture and break down some of the tougher protein chains. I also add about 1/2 cup of minced garlic for extra zing. The turkey soaks overnight in a freshly cleaned 5 gallon bucket with enough ice to keep it well below 40 F.
Around lunchtime — or midday since I usually skip lunch on Thanksgiving as if that will make up for dinner — I take it out, pat it dry, rub the whole birrd down with canola oil, and put it into a preheated oven at 500 F for about 30 minutes. (At that temperature the oil sometimes generates a wee bit of smoke so it’s good to keep the windows open.) Then I take the bird out, cover the breast with a big heavy tinfoil triangle, put in a meat thermometer, and pop it back in at 325-350 F for a few hours. For a 20-pound bird, another 3 hours 15 minutes was perfect. For a 15-pound bird, usually 2:15-2:30 will suffice.
Always check the temperature at the thickest part of the breast and the thigh — 161 F in the breast and about 180 F in the thigh means everything’s just about perfect. I cover the whole thing with heavy tinfoil after it comes out and let it sit for about 20-25 minutes to finish the carry-over cooking, and then it’s carving time.
We served it with a nice Chilean pinot noir which goes very well with poultry. Yummy!
And as I said at dinner during the toast, I have much to appreciate and for which to be grateful this year. An overwhelmingly favorable change of jobs, a wonderful wife and two great kids who support me through it all, and my mom’s steady return to health… all good things. To all my Fedora friends, regardless of whether you celebrated this particular holiday, I hope you and your families will continue to have much to be thankful for in the coming year, too.