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by Copicut Staff
November 09, 2018
Thanksgiving is significant at Copicut Farms. It marks the end of our most productive season and signals more time for family and friends. For farmers summer means work, often 12 to 14 hour days with few breaks for holidays or vacations but in the winter we have more time for other interests, hobbies, and most importantly family.
I grew up in a farming family so this seasonality is second nature to me and has become normal for Emmett and Vince as well. Thanksgiving, not only marks our first official day off in 7 months but it is the one holiday when cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncles travel from out of town (and out of state) to get together.
The group around our Thanksgiving table has changed quite a bit in recent years as older relatives have passed away and babies have been born. Now more than ever Thanksgiving is important to the adults as a continuation of our family traditions and to the kids as they make memories that will last a life time.
For the past several years we have prepared Thanksgiving as a pot luck. We often have more than 25 people to feed and it is too much for one person to take on. Some years it involves spreads sheets and every dish is planned down to the last detail, but more often than not we each take a food group- vegetables, starches, desserts, and with a few calls or texts it all seems to works out perfectly.
During these pot luck years, my sister Sarah and I have been responsible for the turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. This may have something to do with my access to fresh, pasture-raised turkeys or it may be because Sarah is extremely particular about her cranberry sauce! The first few years were full of trial and error as we were new to cooking pasture-raised turkey as well. Now 7 years in, we have become quite the Thanksgiving experts and we would like to share our secrets with you. Below are all of our suggestions and some recipes that we use when preparing our portion of the Thanksgiving meal. Hopefully it will help to make your meal prep that much easier!
We’d also like to take this time to say Thank You. As we sit down to dinner at our own family gathering, we will as always, be giving thanks for the incredible support shown by all of you this past year. From all of us here at Copicut Farms we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
Brine: Your Thanksgiving Insurance Policy
I always say that our turkeys do not require brining BUT if you are anticipating a busy kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, and there is the potential for your turkey to get left in the oven a few minutes too long, or perhaps you just want a quick and easy seasoning option, then brinning is the way to go.
The basics of brining are simple: Between 12 and 24 hours before you're planning to roast your bird, assemble the brine. A brine is a salt, sugar, and seasoning solution which can be as easy or as complex as you care to make it. By brining your bird you are guaranteeing that it will be perfectly moist and seasoned, even if accidentally overcooked because of the general kitchen chaos on Thanksgiving morning.
We have Soluna Gardens Dry Brines available for purchase along with your turkey. We do strongly suggest reserving them in advance as they ALWAYS sell out. Amy from Soluna has included some very easy instructions with each brine package, but the general gist is to dissolve the dry ingredients in water, add some apple cider vinegar, cool the solution and then submerge the turkey in seasoned water.
Not interested in brines… Try these simple and delicious turkey rubs
Basic Dry Rub Recipe
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Mix all ingredients together in small bowl and apply to turkey at least 6 hours before roasting.
Herb and Oil Rub
2 tablespoons fresh sage, bruised and minced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon onion powder
6 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and apply to turkey at least 6 hours before roasting.
At long last…. Roasting the turkey
Foil should be removed about half an hour before the turkey is finished, to ensure uniform browning of the skin.
A brined turkey may take a bit longer to cook per pound. To ensure turkey is fully cooked, check thickest part of thigh and breast for 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Stuffing the turkey also affects the cooking time. A stuffed turkey will need closer to 15 minutes per pound. To ensure stuffed turkey is fully cooked, check thickest part of thigh, breast, and center of stuffing.
Basting your turkey with drippings from the pan every ½ hour is optional but will ensure a perfectly golden-brown bird.
The last piece of the (delicious) puzzle…
Ah, gravy. Maybe the best thing about going through all the effort of roasting a turkey is so you can smother it in gravy.
Elizabeth’s Secret Gravy Recipe
For the stock:
10-12 cups water
Turkey Giblets: gizzard, heart, liver, and necks
2-4 turkey feet (optional)
2 carrots, cut in half
2 large sweet onions, quartered
2 stacks celery, cut in half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3-4 fresh sprigs of sage, parsley, thyme
For the gravy:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup turkey drippings from the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups turkey stock, warm
½ teaspoon bruised, chopped sage
½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Stock
Add vegetables to large stock pot along with water and seasonings. Simmer for 3-6 hours. Strain and set aside. Reserve approx. 4 cups stock for gravy.
For the Gravy
Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium heat.
Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture turns light brown.
Add turkey drippings and warm turkey stock, ½ cup at a time. Add salt, pepper and sage.
Stir until gravy is desired consistency. Adjust seasoning to taste.
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by Elizabeth Frary
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