This year I've decided to undertake the relatively intimidating task of cooking a Thanksgiving turkey for approximately 8 people. I've ordered a 12-14lbs un-brined raw turkey from Whole Foods (it had a great life and then one very bad day). This will be my first attempt at this endeavor.
So the two issues I really have is:
1) I don't have time or the space to brine (which, as I understand it, is a fairly controversial procedure). I've read a couple of dry-brine recipes, so I'll go with that.
2) Gravy. It doesn't seem too difficult to simmer to giblets, add the drippings, etc etc, but it also seems that there's not much room for error. And should I go with a water/giblet/drippings, or flour/corn starch recipe?
Sorry I wasn't available (I had a work crisis) -- I am a gravy goddess, & would have gotten you through a "mostly homemade" one! Do a "fixup" of canned chicken stock, wing tips, fresh veg, herbs to get a lovely stock. (There's no disgrace in using a good canned chicken stock (I like Swanson's Reduced Salt). rather than water, to bring more flavour to the party. Reduce (simmer) that down. Make a medium dark roux with flour & butter. (Wondra "instant flour" is indeed a wonderful thing.) Add your stock, & let that all simmer & thicken. Add your degreased drippings when the bird comes out to rest. Add milk &/or cream if you like. And if you don't have a flat whisk, get one of those for next year.
I was just cooking for 2 people & 2 dogs this year, so didn't want to do a whole turkey. We both prefer light meat. I got a bone-in breast cut, without the legs or wings. Because that's smaller & more open, I was able to put the stuffing in the cavity & under the skin -- no problem getting the stuffing up to safe temperature without the legs on. Along with that, I found just turkey wings for $6, & used those to make my stock. I've always found that just the one bird's giblets/heart (Don't use the liver for stock.) don't make a rich enough stock all on their own -- you either need to start with canned chicken stock, or find extra, inexpensive bones to get a good stock.
And I'm with Michael Symon -- brining is totally unnecessary.
Congratulations on a successful Bird!! Glad it all worked out for you!
Yeah, I was *kinda* hoping our resident French Laundry expert would chime in beforehand.
Originally posted by EmmaBrining is totally unnecessary.
So after doing a bit of research, I decided that a dry-brine was the best way to go. I could only let it sit for about 14 hours (and I think I balked a bit at the amount of salt people were suggesting - ½-¾ cup - which just seemed insane) - but my way seemed to work pretty well.
The only other curve ball was the turkey cooked about 30 minutes quicker than I had anticipated (I had planned for 3h15min @ 350˚F for a 13.3lbs bird, basting every 45-60min) - which means I didn't really have an opportunity to cook it with the lid off to brown the skin. So the skin more or less came off during the carving. Again, while not an award winning effort, everyone told me the bird was delicious, so I'll take the little victories.