A Thanksgivin’ dinner that couldn’t be beat!

November 27, 2015

Excess. Pure, unadulterated, all-American excess, right here.

Excess. Pure, unadulterated, all-American excess, right here.

Except for the fact this was not a particularly good dressing year. Other’n that, it was all quite fine.

And I cooked the best turkey I have ever cooked In My Life. Tender, juicy, tasty — I was just blown away. And it’s a good thing, as I think I put away about 8 pounds of meat off that carcass last night.

We will have turkey for a while, yes, we will.

This turkey, y’all. You will recall I picked him up at the farm on Wednesday, and his little sticker detailed that he had been processed on Tuesday. Which would tell me he was strutting around his tractor cage early in the week this week.

I was a bit taken aback at how big he was — I really did not NEED a 16-pound turkey — and how much he cost. And at five bucks a pound, that’s the priciest turkey I ever bought.

It was worth it.

I got him home, and by 5 p.m. Wednesday, I had him soaking in a water-bath canner filled with a brine made of four gallons of water, a cup of kosher salt, a cup of brown sugar, a couple of tablespoons of dried thyme, some powdered garlic, some powdered onion, and lots of sweet paprika. It was supposed to have bay leaves, but I forgot them.

I boiled the salt, sugar and spices with about two quarts of water to dissolve everything, added a bunch of ice cubes to cool it down, then put the turkey in and added the remaining water to cover it. Then I discovered I’d have been better served to have done this in some sort of different order, as a 16-pound turkey and four gallons of brine (at 8.4 pounds per gallon of water) is HEAVY to carry out to the storage room fridge, not to mention hoist up to the shelf. But I managed.

I will note a water-bath canner is the finest thing made for brining a turkey. You can use the jar basket to lower the turkey into the brine, and fetch him out of it, a technique I employed when carrying the turkey back inside to prep yesterday morning. I am NOT a slow learner, y’all.

Himself the turkey, in all his golden-brown glory.

Himself the turkey, in all his golden-brown glory.

In any event, I brought in the turkey, dried him off with paper towels, and proceeded to salt and pepper him liberally, inside and out. I stuck a stick of butter and a quartered orange into his body cavity, a cup of chicken broth in the bottom of the roaster, and put him in the roasting pan breast-side down, per the New York Times’ “How To Roast A Turkey” guide, which I’d checked to determine roasting time for a bird that size.

Into the oven at 350 he went.

In an hour and a half, per the NYT, I turned him over to breast-side up. I accomplished this by putting on potholder gloves covered by plastic bags secured by rubber backs, and doing it by hand. It worked. Back into the oven he went, where he promptly overcooked, as I dozed off on the couch.

The thigh temp was up near 185, and I though, “Oh, s***, I’ve ruined this turkey.” I snatched it out of the oven; have to admit it was a pretty thing. I just decided to trust and be hopeful he’d be edible.

It was two hours later when I sliced into his breast quadrant, and the juice just flowed. I was amazed.

People, this was the juiciest, tenderest turkey I have ever cooked In My Life. I don’t know if it was an issue of the freshness, the farm-raised aspect, the brine or the upside-down start to his cooking, but be assured I’ll do it exactly the same next year!

Elsewhere on the Thanksgiving table, the sides were good, except for the dressing, which was a tad toward the gummy side. Think I went one egg too many. Ah, well, some years you do, some years you don’t. The mashed potatoes, however, according to Child A, were “the best I’ve ever had.” I’m not sure why — they were just Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled in salted water, drained, mashed with butter and cream. They did whip in the mixer for a little longer than usual while I got sidetracked doing something else. Anyway, I’ll take it.

Rolls were excellent. I made a softer dough than normal so they’d be broad, flat rolls, the better for sandwiching slices of that excellent turkey breast with some Swiss cheese and some curry dip/spread after while.

Will save desserts, which have yet to be touched, for another post. I feel a morning nap coming on. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come on by for a turkey sandwich later on today.



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