Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving - Turkey Brine

Thanksgiving is done. Turkey Day 2010 came and went and I got to try out my very first turkey brine. Let me tell you, once you taste a brined turkey - there is NO GOING BACK.

You might be asking by now, "What's a brine?" Think of it as a salt water marinade. The flavors and moisture is absorbed into the turkey. I found out that your brine base has three basic ingredients that you can build off - water, salt, and sugar. Here is what I came up with.

1 qt Weak Apple Juice (* see below)
1 gal. + Cold Water
1 1/2 c Salt
1/2 c Brown Sugar
2 T Peppercorns
1 t Onion Powder

Put your turnkey in a food safe container (bucket, brining bag, cooking bag, etc). You want a container large enough that the whole turkey can be covered with the liquid. mix seasoning and liquids and pour over meat. Keep in a cold place (refrigerator or garage if you life far enough north) for 12-15 hours (basically overnight).

When you are ready to roast it, drain the liquid and pat dry with paper towel. Rub a bit of oil over the skin and apply any desired herbs to skin. In the cavity I added an apple & onion (split in half and microwaved for 5 minutes in a bit of water to soften them up), and some fresh thyme and rosemary.

Bake at 450 for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and roast until internal temp comes to 162 degrees. Allow to rest for 30 minutes to continue cooking and redistribute juices before carving. That's the perfect amount of time to cook a side dish - stuffing, casserole, veggies, etc.

I covered the turkey breast with foil after the first 30 minutes. After that, honestly I forgot to baste the turkey. It turned out completely moist all the way through with a mild apple flavor. My husband said it was the best turkey he's ever had.

As a side benefit - the drippings made the most amazing gravy. It was a hint of sweetness, a good balance of salt, and a bit of apple flavor. I only need to add a bit of pepper to season the gravy. A perfect match with my apple sausage stuffing.

We never got to do the kindness jar that I mentioned earlier in the week. My youngest got a case for the stomach flu. All of our plans went helter skelter. No volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House (thankful that our friends still could go and pick up my slack), no friends for Thanksgiving dinner, no lots of things. But surprisingly I was okay with all of it.

Far away from home and everything else, I had anticipated being homesick. God blessed me with a great level of contentment and peace. It was a wonderful day with my family. AMAZING food that we'll be eating for a while since it was just us, and lots of time with my boys.

I am so thankful for my family, our health, our friends, our church, a simpler life, and God's provision in our life. Oh yeah, and lots of great food. May the season and spirit of Thanksgiving last all year long.

* I actually didn't use apple juice. It was the juice produced by boiling my apple peels left over from making applesauce with a qt of water. If using regular apple juice I would use a watered down, weak version.

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