Monday, November 23, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey

Here's my Martha Stewart-ish photo (you know, the one where she's holding the platter of turkey. The only thing different about my version of this picture is the lack of stylists--hair, makeup, wardrobe, and most importantly, food) :)

I am excited to announce I cooked my very first turkey this weekend, and it was no small matter, I mean platter. :) The bird was 21.64 pounds (if you wanted an exact number, which I know you did). My step-mother-in-law helped me thaw it the rest of the way, and then I put it in the foil roaster (the cheap-throw-away/save-if-you're-really-frugal kinds from the store) before church Sunday.

It was surprisingly easy and extremely delicious.

Here are some helpful tips I found. Mercy for your turkey, if you will. :)

1. Be sure to allow plenty of thawing time. I thought taking it out of the freezer Thursday to cook Sunday would be ok. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The more experienced among us probably know that a turkey that size takes 4-6 days to thaw in the 'frig.

2. When you have underestimated your thawing time, you can speed it up by placing the wrapped turkey in a large sink filled with cold water. A laundry room utility sink works great. Technically, you should change the water every 30 minutes to prevent bacterial growth. When the bird starts to feel fleshy rather than frozen, you can return it to the refrigerator if you have enough time left before D-day, I mean T-day.

3. When your turkey is sufficiently thawed, remove giblets (my mother-in-law saved them, boiled them in some water, and used that broth for gravy), rinse and clean outside and inside of turkey.  I used paper towels to help wipe the inner cavity. It's not so gross if you're used to doing this with chickens. Not saying that's a hobby of mine or anything... :)

4. (I think this step really helped create a moist bird). Once your turkey is clean, inside and out, place the turkey in a bucket of cold water overnight (or for several hours before cooking). I used an extra bulk food storage bucket I had (see the Walmart bakery for their empty icing tubs. They're either free or $1. I can't get to the bottom of it...). From what I've read, this is similar to brining (minus the salt and spices). I found some brining tips here.

5. Now for cooking--I used the tips here, however I modified the cooking temp. I can't in good conscience advise you to cook a turkey at any temperature lower than 325 (wink). I took a nutrition and food safety course through our state university. Quoting from the text, "It's not safe to cook a turkey (or any other meat, for that matter) in an oven set lower than 325-degrees F. That's because it takes too long for the turkey to reach a temperature high enough to kill or limit growth of food-borne bacteria."

I brushed the turkey with olive oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, added 1/2 c. of water to the bottom of the roasting pan and covered it tightly with foil. Off to church we went.

Then when it had cooked at 325 for 4 hours, I uncovered it, turned up the heat to 375, and followed Ree's butter basting tips. I brushed it with butter every 30 minutes. I did this three times, and took the turkey out an hour and a half later (the math adds up...don't you love it when that happens?). I recovered it with foil and let the guy rest after all that hot and tiresome work. Plus, I needed the oven, and he was hogging it.

6. My husband carved the turkey using Martha Stewart's carving tutorial (I made him politely asked him if he wanted to look at her directions online). Good man he is, he obliged and carved away. Beautiful thick slices with golden skin on every piece. So moist and delicious, I may just cook another one in two days...if I can get it thawed in time :) On second thought...

How do you bake your bird???

Happy Thanksgiving!

(linked to Gratituesday)

1 comment:

  1. Yum, Yum. We will be cooking ours first thing in the morning!!