Learn how to cook and live the Paleo Life

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

 

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while. Been very busy with moving stuff. I’ve also been working on some new recipes. I hope to post a TigerNut flour cake recipe in a few days and information on the tour I got of the TigerNut facility in Brooklyn.

Thanksgiving time

Thanksgiving is this week. For me I never liked Turkey till my husband insisted on having a traditional Thanksgiving meal. That meant I had to learn how to make a tender, juicy turkey.

Growing up my mom’s turkey was always dry leaving me not liking for turkey in any form. I just had very bad memories of turkey. A few years ago I took a class about brining, learning how to brine turkey and other meat. When I started brining the turkey I fell in love with turkey for the first time in my life. Brining allows for the meat to be internally seasoned versus externally seasoning and brined meat cooks faster.

Brining turkey is a full day event. If you are making turkey for Thanksgiving and haven’t taken your turkey out of the freezer yet, DO IT NOW! It takes approximately two to three days for a frozen turkey to fully thaw in the refrigerator (depending on the size of the turkey); the USDA recommends 24 hours for every 5 pounds.

 

While brining is usually done only with turkey it can be done on any meat that is low in fat (i.e. chicken, pork, duck and turkey).  The lower fat content causes the meat to dry out during cooking.  Brining red meat doesn’t work due to its higher fat content; it will not dry out during cooking.

​Time schedule:

  • Sunday: Take turkey out of the freezer and put in the fridge.
  • Tuesday evening: Make brine
  • Wednesday: Brine turkey
  • Thursday: Turkey day

Items you will need before starting:

  • Kitchen scale
  • Covered container (size depends on the size of meat brining)
  • Measuring cup or for large meats such as turkey large jug with measurements
  • Salt

To start brining ensure your meat is fully thawed first.  Then find a container that is large enough to fit the piece of meat and allow for the meat to be fully submersed in water.  For example: if you have a 12lb turkey you will need a container large enough to fit the meat and about 4 gallons of water.

(Hint: I bought a plastic file container at Target for this.)

Tuesday:

On Tuesday evening start making the brine. Put the turkey in the container and measure out the amount of water it will take to completely submerse the turkey; take note of the amount of water measured.  Now take the turkey out of the water, place it in any other container, put the turkey back in the fridge, and dump the water.  For large meats, such as turkey, I find it helpful to do this procedure in the bathtub.

To make the brine measure ¼ of the required amount of water you measured out, place in an appropriate sized pot and bring to simmer.  Then add 30 grams of salt per quart of water and stir until dissolved.  For example: if you have a 12 lb turkey and you measured out 4 gallons of water (which equals 16 quarts) you will bring 4 quarts of water to simmer and add 480 grams of salt (30 x 16=480).

At this point you can add any aromatics you wish to the water and bring to a simmer, like sage, thyme, rosemary, etc.  When the water is simmering cover, turn off heat, and let steep up to 30 minutes. You could also add sugar; if adding sugar is should not exceed the amount of salt.

After 30 minutes pour the brine water into a small container and place in the fridge overnight to cool.

Brine prep
Preparing the brine

Wednesday:

On Wednesday morning pour the refrigerated brine into your large container and add the remaining amount of water required. Remove the giblets from the cavity and place the turkey into the brine ensuring the meat is completely submerged weighing the meat down if necessary.  If possible place the container in the fridge.  When brining a large turkey I place the container in my bathtub as my fridge is usually filled with other holiday food.  A trick to keep the water cold and weigh the meat down is fill two plastic bottles with water and freeze; you will have to do this a day ahead. I also remove the wings from the turkey and save them for stuffing/dressing.

It takes about one hour per pound of meat to effectively penetrate the meat.  For example a 12 lb turkey will need to sit for 12 hours.

After sitting for the required time dry the meat completely inside and out with paper towels before cooking.

For a nice brown skin place the meat on a cooking rack on top of a large cookie sheet covered with paper towels, to catch any liquid, and place in the refrigerator.  A chicken should sit the fridge for 4-6 hours and a turkey for 8-12 hours.

Brining turkey

 

Thursday:

On Thursday, Thanksgiving: the time you put your turkey in the oven depends on what time you plan on eating. A 10 to 12 lb turkey cooks in about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Depending on the size of your oven remove one rack and place the second rack it the lowest position. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Prep the turkey in your roasting pan ensuring it is thoroughly dried. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under the turkey (if you didn’t cut them off like me). Pour 3 cups of water in the roasting pan and place the turkey in the oven for 45 minutes.

Partially cooked turkey
Turkey is browned but not cooked
Aluminum covered turkey
Turkey covered with aluminum foil

Remove the turkey and cover the breast with aluminum foil, as shown above. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. Place the turkey back in the oven for an additional 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ hours. If the pans dries add 1 cup of water. The turkey is done when your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F.

Brining the turkey, adding the water to the pan, and covering the breast with aluminum foil means you don’t have to constantly stick your head into a hot oven basting the turkey.

Carving:

Put the turkey on the carving board or serving dish, cover with aluminum foil and let sit for 20 minutes before carving.

Here is a great video from Culinary Institute of America on how to carve your turkey.

Side Dishes:

My side dishes are the usual mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, stuffing/dressing, some sort of green veggie (either steamed green beans or roasted brussel sprouts, and for dessert my daughter is in charge of that.

Mashed purple cauliflower
Purple cauliflower with roasted garlic

As I noted above for the stuffing/dressing I don’t stuff the turkey so technically is it dressing. I learned from America’s Test Kitchen to put the turkey wings on top of the dressing to get the drippings into it, it is positively delicious. I use their recipe so I can’t give it to you. However, this year I am adapting it to gluten free.

Turkey stuffing
Delicious gluten free turkey stuffing

 

We are not big on gravy so I typically don’t make it. But I plan on making turkey pot pie with the leftover meat and want to try putting gravy in the pot pie so we shall see what I manage to do.

I haven’t decided on whether to make cranberries yet. I like them but pretty much no one else likes them so it’s usually a waste.

Please check out my Thanksgiving Pinterest board for more suggestions.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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