Tips for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey
I've sat at many a family thanksgiving dinner as a kid and dreaded the over-roasted, kinda dry turkey that came out to grace the table. After years of experiencing dry mouth I swore that I would never, ever make a dry turkey.
This is a brining made simple recipe… if you brine your bird, I promise everyone will rave about how moist it is! No one will ever say it's dry- I dare them! Basically a brine breaks down the protein in the turkey and traps the flavors of the herbs and spices inside, forcing you to make a tasty, succulent bird every time! Buy a giant bird because this one, everyone's going to fight over!
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Thanksgiving day usually means that the fridge is packed with everything imaginable, desserts, beers, wines, sides, cranberry sauce… but where to put the turkey??!
Tip #1: Find a cooler just big enough so that the turkey will fit in it. Yep, the cooler you take to the beach…yes, that one. Make the brine, add the turkey, add some ice and viola…instant storage. Rule of thumb for brining… brine 1 hour per pound. So if you have a big bird which you'll want to get, the bird sits overnight in the cooler.
Tip #2: Make sure you line the cooler with an unscented garbage bag before adding the brine and turkey…making cleanup a non-issue.
The easy recipe:
2 cups of kosher salt
2 cups of sugar
2 gallons of water
3 oranges cut in half
4 lemons cut in half
8 bulbs of garlic halved
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 bunch of fresh herbs each, thyme, rosemary, oregano
7 lb bag of 1ce
Add 1 gallon of water to a large stock pot with sugar and salt. Over medium heat allow sugar and salt to dissolve, don't boil, just heat it up. Let water cool. In a large cooler that can hold the turkey add all your aromatics and squeeze juice from the citrus into the pot. Add ½ bag of ice to the brine and add the turkey (giblets removed).
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Add another gallon of water (or oj, or wine even) to the mixture and submerge the bird in water/ice. Turkey may want to float to the top so add a heavy plate to the top of the turkey so it stays submerged. Before going to sleep add the rest of the ice to the cooler. Remove turkey from brine, pat it dry and add unsalted butter and olive oil with chopped, fresh herbs all over the turkey. Cook until internal temp of turkey is 160° and the juices run clear.
Watch me prepare the brine and turkey in the That's Fresh episode of Brining made simple… From my kitchen to yours have a happy and healthy thanksgiving! Enjoy!
- By Helen Cavallo
For 5 ways to spend less time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, visit Babble!
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Helen Cavallo is chef and owner of Food & Bounty , a boutique food and beverage catering company and host of That's Fresh: Recipes so Easy, You're Laughing , airing on Disney Junior... Now That's Fresh!