I felt like writing a quick blog to get some thoughts straightened out. It's time to execute the Thanksgiving plans. Currently, my frozen turkey is air defrosting, but it will soon be in a cooler of tap water. It seems I forgot to clean out the Yeti from the last use, but since it contained only ice water, a quick clean will do.
The goal is to have the turkey thawed by tomorrow evening, Monday. After that, it's into the brine bag. We opted for a brine bag kit, and I'll likely use their solution. Despite the inclusion of orange peels and other aromatics, they won't contribute much, as their molecules are too large to penetrate the meat. What we're after here is a mixture of salt and sugar water. I have some kosher salt in the cabinet and will augment the brine if needed.
Did you know that various salts have different levels of saltiness, with kosher being the highest and table salt the lowest? We don't want to oversalt the meat; we just want to brine it.
So why brine the meat? Similar to putting a dry rub on pork shoulders, ribs, or briskets, it helps bring out the moisture and tenderize the meat. The meat undergoes a chemical reaction and changes after being brined. While not every ounce of meat will be brined, the spots that are will be very juicy indeed.
There are many ways to prepare a turkey, such as roasting, smoking, and deep frying. I deep-fried one many years ago, and it was excellent and juicy. I've smoked a couple, and they've always turned out well. Spatchcocking is a great time-saver; you basically split the bird down the breast bone and lay it flat to cook. Another option with spatchcocking is using a brick to hold it flat; wrap the brick in aluminum foil and set it on top of the edges of the bird.
I'll roast this turkey in a 1950s-style electric roaster, a family heirloom from Marlee's grandma Hampton. It's a beautiful piece with a metal base and wheels. We store it all year in the laundry room and bring it out for family feasts, freeing up a lot of oven space. Speaking of oven space, it's almost time to start the spreadsheet.
My mother-in-law and I will make a plan on Wednesday night. Each dish gets an entry and cook time. We'll adjust recipes for the double oven, placing really hot items in one and medium items in the other. On Thanksgiving day, we'll have a schedule, with each dish covered in foil, and a Sharpie marker listing contents and end time.
Marlee will coordinate the serving ware and buffet; we'll bring things out as they are ready. We have a new sideboard for our dining room this year, and I can't wait to put it to use. My mother-in-law found the sideboard at an estate sale; it was beat up and required restoration. I'll be putting the final coats of polyurethane on it today.
So what's your cooking routine? How do you prepare the turkey? Do you go for a different main dish?