Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Preparation Day! (With Recipes)

Today I prepare the turkey for the feast of Thanksgiving. And because it is a celebration, I want my turkey to be the best it can be... moist, tender, and very tasty. There's probably hundreds of ways to cook a bird, but for several years now, I've used Giada De Laurentiis' Herb & Citrus Turkey Recipe along with a complimentary brining recipe. Light in flavor, but succulent and fresh tasting. And it has never failed to perform.
Most of the ingredients are things you might have on hand, but if not, they aren't hard to find. And there is still time to do this before tomorrow. You only need to leave it in the brine an hour per pound (give or take), so unless your turkey is larger than 24 pounds, go for it!

Citrus Turkey Brine

1 lemon 
1 orange
1 onion, cut into thick slices
1 T. dried thyme
4 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
1 cup salt or 1 1/2 cups coarse salt
1 gallon water
1 very large zip lock bag or similar item

Place 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Add salt and stir to dissolve. Cut the lemon and orange into 1/8 pieces. Squeeze juice into pot and add fruit pieces. Add onions and spices. Cool well before pouring brine solution into a brining bag and adding the turkey. Refrigerate and allow to soak 1 hour per pound. Be sure to rinse turkey VERY WELL and pat dry before roasting.

Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus
Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis

1 turkey 14-15 lbs.
1 orange, cut in wedges
1 lemon, cut in wedges
1 oinion, cut in wedges
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
6 fresh sage sprigs
6 fresh oregano sprigs
2 T. unsalted butter
 2 T. Herbs de Provence
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper
1-2 T. flour or cornstarch

Prepare turkey for roasting. Place orange, lemon, and onion wedges and 2 sprigs of each herb in cavity. Tie turkey legs. Heat 2 T. of butter with Herbs de Provence, oil, salt, and pepper. Rub over turkey and under skin. Place turkey in roasting pan, breast side down. Be sure to flip turkey about an hour before done so that the breast can brown. This doesn't make for a spectacular presentation, but if you cut your turkey in the kitchen prior to serving anyway, you'll find that it allows the juices to settle in the breast area and keep it from being dry.

Roast at 350 degrees until meat thermometer reads 165 - 170 degrees. I follow Shelton's guide for roasting so I don't over cook the turkey and dry it out (something that many cooks tend to do)!

Notes:

• You might want to turn the heat up for the first 20 minutes to help seal the juices even further, but don't forget to turn it back down for the remaining time.

• If using a roasting bag, place flour in roasting bag, then add the turkey by placing it upside down in the bag along with the remaining herb sprigs.

• For a larger turkey, adjust ingredients accordingly.

• Giada roasts her turkey a little bit differently and I've included her video so you can see how she does it.


Growing up, I use to think that you had to get up before dawn to cook your bird and that it was a great challenge and cooking mystery to get it just right. Not true! If you can roast a chicken, you can roast a turkey, but a couple of extra steps, such as a brine, will really go a long way to keep that bird from drying out.

Happy Turkey Preparation Day!


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