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Roasting Turkey


Rosie
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Whole Foods say they are having fresh turkeys for Thanksgiving...anyone ever tried one of theirs?

I might go take a look at them, because they would be likely to handle it properly. Otherwise, I'll go frozen. At least I will know the state it's been it since it was processed. With so much going on at Thanksgiving, consistency and predictability get a slight edge over quality. And it's not like a frozen Honeysuckle® is going to be a bad turkey.

btw, Honeysuckle is owned by Cargill®.

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
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Eat more chicken skin.

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Fresh turkeys and artisnal turkeys are only minor improvements on what brining can do. I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt with a ratio of one cup per gallon of water and I turn out magfuckingnificent birds every time with the cheapest bird I can find. My birds even beat deep fried birds, though I smoke my turkeys instead of roast. Last year my bird was free because I spent over $100 on Thanksgiving groceries. Canning salt will work, but use 1/2 cup of salt per gallon instead of a whole cup. I wouldn't use table salt as it has iodine as well as other things and would most definitely result in a bird that was too salty.

Tommy, I'm sorry you haven't tried a brined turkey, I bet you grew up with dry turkey, dry pork chops, dry [insert poorly cooked meat here] and just don't know how good a turkey can taste. I know your pain, my parents don't know the first thing about cooking meat and I grew up with the most horrible of cooked meat in general, let alone the driest turkey I ever did eat. Good luck this year.

As for aliwaks complicated brine, all you really need is salt, the rest is a waste of money unless you let your bird sit in brine for a week. But at that point the meat is too salty. Salt, vinegar and a little sugar are all that you need. For the extra flavor, use arromatic herbs and spices under the skin and in the cavity during the roasting process, that will add far more flavor than anything in the brine.

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...all you really need is salt, the rest is a waste of money unless you let your bird sit in brine for a week. But at that point the meat is too salty. Salt, vinegar and a little sugar are all that you need. For the extra flavor, use arromatic herbs and spices under the skin and in the cavity during the roasting process, that will add far more flavor than anything in the brine.

If you let meat brine too long (say, two or three days for turkey, two or three hours for shrimp), the texture takes a definite turn for the worse.

And to repeat, if it's not water-soluble, it can't take advantage of osmosis, therefore it won't affect flavor.

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I read that brining affects the skin, is this true,

Yes. This was earlier in the thread:

I also suggest timing your brining so that the turkey can be air dried post-brining, since bring tends to leave the skin kind of flabby. Drain the brine, rinse the turkey (pretty important), and set it on a rack in the refrigerator (uncovered) for six to eight hours. In other words, brine your bird on Wednesday, drain and rinse it Wednesday night, and let it air dry over night. Air drying makes it easier to achieve a well-browned surface.

Also, how about coarse sea salt?

If you're doing it for some special taste, I wouldn't bother. But if you decide to go that way, you'll need to weigh it. Then compare it to kosher salt and adjust the amount you use according to the Colonel's formula above.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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OK, we've determined the following:

1) gordon has a nice floor

1a) gordon is a slum-lord

2) brining is for pretentious twits with too much time on their hands who figure "it can't hurt."

3) run-of-the-mill store-bought birds might benefit from brining, and are surely for tourists

4) kosher birds are better than run-of-the-mill store-bought birds

now, my question is, should i get one of them there "fresh" birds? 

please discuss.

Last year's meal, I made a fresh turkey along with a store-bought. The seasoning and cooktimes were similiar (the fresh turkey being a few pounds smaller)

The fresh was slightly gamier.

The breast meat was not as plump.

The skin was crispier.

The dark meat had superior flavor.

A fresh turkey would benefit from a little more agressive seasoning than a store bought.

I wonder what would happen if you deep fried a brined bird ?

PS - Slum Lord ? I'm trying to work my way up to a nice, sprawling Ponderosa some day.

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After all the brouhaha about kosher turkeys, I bought an Empire for Rosh Hashannah this year and was unimpressed. I prefer the Waybest fresh turkeys my market orders.

Every few years I change my method of cooking turkey, but the only method I've ever found that results in a consistently wonderful turkey is to marinate it for 24 hours before roasting. I guess you could consider it akin to brining, but it is easier and doesn't require any special equipment like large buckets.

The marinade I use is a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, chopped garlic, chopped shallots and fresh thyme. It only makes a small amount, but you rub it all over the turkey and slide it under the skin on the breast side. Some of it will drip down in the bowl, so it's a good idea to turn to turkey a few times to make sure it gets coated on all sides. When roasted, the turkey has a beautiful mahogany colored crisp skin and the breast meat is unbelievable.

Another method is to drape the turkey in butter-soaked cheesecloth. That's how I made my first ever turkey and it was darn good.

I've become a convert to cooking the stuffing in a separate casserole because it reduces the roasting time and you get that nice crust (which is arguably the best part). I make sure to baste the casserole frequently with the juices from the roasting pan to give it that turkey flavor.

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  • 4 weeks later...

There is a really great turkey/thanksgiving resource list going on over at Saute Wednesday.

rentyourchef, I used the foodtv turkey calculator (listed in saute wednesday's link list) to calculate for 17 people (I counted 5 children as 3 people). The calculator defaults to 2 servings per person and leaves room for leftovers. A serving is not defined though.

2 servings = 25.5 lbs

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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There is a really great turkey/thanksgiving resource list going on over at Saute Wednesday.

rentyourchef, I used the foodtv turkey calculator (listed in saute wednesday's link list) to calculate for 17 people (I counted 5 children as 3 people).  The calculator defaults to 2 servings per person and leaves room for leftovers.  A serving is not defined though.

2 servings = 25.5 lbs

Ben

A lot depends on the sides (lots of filling starches?) and the people (saving room for dessert?). For sure you don't want to run out.

The usual rule is one pound of raw turkey per person, plus whatever you want for leftovers. As the turkey gets bigger, the scale skews down a bit, because bigger birds have better yields (higher meat/bone ratio). In other words, two 12-pound turkeys will provide less meat than one 24-pounder. OTOH, two turkeys lets you grill one and fry the other...

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Brined turkey is great! I have convinced many cooks and non-cooks to brine turkey. My 8 year old nephew told my sister "to always make it the way Aunt Karen does". He then told me that he was having thirds! It is very easy to do (and the meat doesn't taste salty). The SF Chronicle did a turkey comparison and tasting a couple of years ago. The brined turkey was the winner- chosen by all.

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There are stores here in the Twin Cities that are selling a "brining mix" (sugar and salt) that you add to water for brining your turkey. $5.95 will get you 1/2 up each of salt and sugar, and probably some fancy (but unnecessary) packaging.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Brining turns the taste and texture of turkey from boring to elegant.  The first time I ate a turkey that had been brined, I could hardly believe it was turkey.  Also, get the best turkey you can find -- organic, free range.

Doesn't even Alton Brown say to get a frozen turkey?

"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

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My husband has managed to find a different turkey preparation method for every single bird he has ever cooked.  Certainly keeps the stress level High on the big day.

Brining was last year.  I didn't find that the results were worth the negatives that Tommy mentioned.  And it was too damned salty.

Somewhere, "Cook's", I think, recently did a test and found the much-maligned frozen Butterball to be a perfectly good turkey.  They have done the brining for you. 

I cooked one for Canadian Thanksgiving at my mother's a few weeks ago.  It was damn good.

Fresh is good, but not really worth the difference in price.

And DO NOT try the Pepin partially steamed over water method.  One of Jacques's few flops.  Even His Handsomeness didn't go back for seconds.  The cats made out for weks.

Have they really brined it already or just stuffed a bunch of butter inside?

"If we don't find anything pleasant at least we shall find something new." Voltaire

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Brining adds moisture to the bird and accentuates the natural flavor of the bird. I wouldn't dare cook up any poultry without brining it first. Just try brining some chicken parts and cooking them up next to unbrined chicken. The brined chicken will be infinitely more excellent than the unbrined.

Does that mean even chicken parts thatre gonna get pan seared then finished in the oven?

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Brining adds moisture to the bird and accentuates the natural flavor of the bird. I wouldn't dare cook up any poultry without brining it first. Just try brining some chicken parts and cooking them up next to unbrined chicken. The brined chicken will be infinitely more excellent than the unbrined.

Does that mean even chicken parts thatre gonna get pan seared then finished in the oven?

Yes, IMHO. My family can tell the difference and complain if I haven't brined chicken, even in a simple sauté. Even 30 minutes in brine is well worth your time.

Well, it's worth it for the chicken. I have no idea what 30 minutes in brine would do for you. I don't even want to think about it.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Everything's a tradeoff.

So far, my turkey has been 1)butterflied, 2)brined for 12 hours and 3)rinsed and set on a rack to dry. Tonight, it gets stuffed under the skin.

My husband claims if guests could see what I put this poor bird through, they wouldn't eat it. So shhhhhh, this is just between the thousands of us.

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my first turkey brining was a success.  what can i say.

Congrats Tommy!

My brined turkey was more popular than the goose I smoked which was also brined. Man do I love a good smoked turkey. Next time I smoke up a goose though, I'm pulling it off around 150 to 160. This was my first time and I pulled it off around 170 and although it was tasty, I think you'd get better texture at a lower temperature. I was really amazed at how fatty those birds are.

nyfirepatrolchef, yes, definitely brine your cut chicken parts, they will taste infinitely better. Cut pieces don't need to be brined as long as whole birds but they'll do well brining for an hour to 24 hours.

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  • 11 months later...
question for those who have or who have thought about deep frying a turkey:  how do you make the gravy without pan drippings?  just a thought that i've been wondering about.

i just want to bump this back up and ask this question again, as i'm planning on doing a test run of a deep fried turkey soon.

what's the best way to make gravy without the benefit of pan drippings?

any help would be appreciated.

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