Ok we are going to talk turkey. Because well, in 13 days most of us will be dealing with that bird in their kitchen, so I hunted down these handy tips and now I’m passing them on to you…
But first, did you know that the turkey was domesticated by the Aztecs? I did not, so for me it was an a ha! moment there - the stuff you can find when you go a-looking.
Now I have cooked 2 full turkeys in my lifetime, being Italian and raised in a South American country, we never celebrated Thanksgiving in my house, so cooking a whole turkey around these parts was pretty much not done, but when I did my first one, it was a disaster. It was good in flavor, looked beautiful BUT, it was dry. The next one? I studied up and found that in order to keep that bird moist and full of flavor there is one thing to do: BRINE IT.
And to do that… Place it in a cooler and add ice water to the brine to keep the turkey cold. You can find one of the best brine recipe with Alton Brown. To keep the turkey well-submerged in the brine, place a heavy pan or another clean, relatively heavy object on the bird to keep in under the salted water. Make sure the object you use is not metal, since it may react with the brine and ruin the flavor.
But along with a juicy bird, you want a crisp, golden skin right? And to get that, brush the skin periodically with melted butter as the turkey cooks. Or you can go the Martha Stewart route and cover the turkey with cheesecloth that has been soaking in butter and wine; the cloth should cover the breast and part of the leg area. Make sure the cheesecloth never dries out or comes into contact with the inside walls of the oven; in either situation, it may ignite. Every 30 minutes, use a pastry brush (better than a bulb baster) to baste the cheesecloth and exposed area of the turkey with the butter-and-wine mixture.
And we all know that the white meat [breast] is going to cook faster than the dark meat [legs and thighs] so to keep breast meat fro overcooking and drying out, please ice packs over the turkey breast while defrosting the bird. When teh bird is defrosted, remove the ice packs and cook as normal. The ice packs keep the breast meat cooler so that it cooks in the same amount of time as the dark meat.
There you have it, a couple of tips that can help in the mayhem of that day.