There is some concern in my family about the fact that I only purchased a 17.22 lb turkey for Thursday.
Now, we’re 6 people. Even discounting bones that’s a LOT of turkey per person. Last year’s bird was just over 21 pounds and we had turkey coming out of our ears. Even after my brother took some home. And we froze some for gumbo, later. Not to mention that it barely fit in our large roasting pan.
So 17.22 lbs seemed quite adequate to me.
“But Jason’s already salivating over Todd’s turkey,” Mom informs me.
This same Jason who already went to 3 other Thanksgiving dinners before mine but who still ate a plate full and was moaning in misery on my living room floor afterward. This same Jason who has to go to FOUR dinners before mine this year.
I’m not exactly worried.
But let’s get to the heart of the matter, here.
Last year was the first year we hosted Thanksgiving and, therefore, roasted the bird. Usually Mom’s job, it just didn’t make sense for her to have to cart a turkey across town (or, even, around the corner of town as it actually is from her place to ours). She brought a couple of sides and we handled the rest.
This was also the first holiday Todd & I were living together for, so some collaboration was in order. Thrilled to be getting a crack at the turkey but knowing I couldn’t go too far astray from the usual without shocking my family’s palate, I planned to supplement the usual turkey seasoning (quartered onions & apples in the cavity plus a few garlic cloves) with some herbed-butter coins placed under the skin.
Right about the time I voiced that idea, Todd suggested we brine the turkey. Having never done that before it seemed as good an idea as any.
The turkey was amazing.
But it was a joint effort, as I continue (as does Todd) to point out to my mother. Nonetheless, because of a bit of salt and water, the turkey of note is known as Todd’s turkey.
To Brine a Turkey
There are several ways to do this but this is ours and, hey, it’s won Todd fame with my family so it must work okay.
- Clean out a good-sized cooler that will hold the turkey with space around it for liquid and ice.
- Line the cooler with a fresh (unscented) tall kitchen bag.
- Divest the turkey of it’s neck and giblets, give it a good rinse and place inside the bag inside the cooler.
- Combine kosher salt and water (1 cup per gallon) as needed and add to the bag inside the cooler, making sure to completely cover the turkey.
- Tie up the kitchen bag, fill the space around the bird with ice.
- Let sit in this brine (topping off the ice as needed and, if it’s a really big bird, turning it once) for 24 hours or so.
- Rinse the turkey and season at will prior to roasting.
Last year our turkey was a little icy on the inside, still, but this actually worked in our favor as it helped keep the temperature of the turkey-and-brine below 40 degrees. If you’ve got room in your fridge (and if so, I envy you), you can brine it in a bag (or 2–no spills allowed!) or large container in the fridge. I’ve even seen where it’s suggested to use a crisper bin if the bird will fit.
You can also add other seasonings to your brine, but we went with simple last year and had excellent results.
The Rest of the Table
What will appear alongside Todd’s turkey, this year? Here’s our menu:
Baked Brie en Croute with Figs and Honey
Spinach Dip and Crackers
Buttered and Brined Turkey
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli and Cheese
Eggplant & Zucchini Gratin
Rice and Pigeon Peas
Garlic Green Beans
Parker House Rolls
Cranberry Sauce (jellied and whole berry)
Amaretto Pumpkin Pie w/Gingered Pepitas
Caramel Apple Cake
Yes, I know, we’re only 6 people. And 2 will have eaten several times before they make it to our evening supper. And 1 still isn’t 100% sure he’ll make it if work intervenes.
But the leftovers will be glorious.
Feed Your Ears
Make sure to check out the November episode of Random Acts Radio: Grab a Spoon. There’s over an hour of food-related tunes to keep you company in the kitchen or on the road. Sage (and safe–that was a typo too good to pass up) Thanksgiving wishes to all, and may all your waistbands be elastic.