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by Emma Parish
November 01, 2017
With Thanksgiving around the corner, and family coming to town, and events to plan, and work to be done, I’m sure you all have a lot on your plates! Since we’re raising Thanksgiving turkeys, we wanted to make sure the poultry on your plate wasn’t adding to the stress. Below, is a lengthy saga, outlining turkey preparation and seasoning and cooking, that should have most all of the information you’ll need this Thanksgiving!
To Brine or Not to Brine
When you cook meat, you lose about 30% of the moisture weight, since the heat of cooking denatures the proteins, and causes them to coil, tighten, and squish the water out. Brining, means cutting the loss of moisture weigh in half. How, you may ask? SALT! By soaking your turkey in a solution that includes salt, you are in effect denaturing the proteins in the meat, making certain that they cannot curl and tighten and squish out the water. While our turkeys certainly don’t need brining to become a tasty meal, it is a good way to ensure that—in spite of overcooking because you had to run to the store for more green beans and sweet potatoes— you’ll have a tasty, flavorful bird to serve the family.
If You Do Brine
If you want to brine your bird, there are quite a few recipes out there that are fantastic! We have always loved Soluna Gardens brine, so feel free to reserve one of these to pick up with your bird. In addition to the essential salt and brown sugar needed for effective brining, the Soluna brine also includes some wonderful herbs harvested from their farm in Winchester MA.
If You Don’t Brine
Here are two options for dry rub recipes that will be excellent!
-this one is a basic rub that is simple, and includes dry ingredients mixed together, to be rubbed on the turkey at least six hours before cooking.
dark brown sugar
freshly ground black pepper
-this one is more herbal based, and a paste since the olive oil is added. Again, to be applied to the turkey at least six hours before cooking.
Now Let’s Talk Birds and Ovens
- preheat oven to 425, then turn down to 350 after first half hour
- place room temperature turkey in a roasting pan, breast side up
- place the rack in the lowest position in the oven
- prior to putting your bird in the oven, cover each drumstick with tin foil to prevent overcooking. (note: this foil should be removed about half an hour before the turkey is finished, to ensure a nice uniform browning of the skin.)
- cooking time for our turkeys is 9 or 10 minutes per pound. We realize this is quite a bit less than is usually suggested; however, we’ve found that our turkeys generally cook faster than others. Because of this, we strongly advise that you have a good cooking thermometer on hand. Your turkey should be removed from the oven when both the thickest part of the thigh and breast read 165.
- after this, set the whole kit and caboodle aside to rest for about half an hour, prior to any slicing or parting out.
**All of these instructions assume that you have neither brined nor stuffed your turkey, you should adjust your cooking time accordingly if you have done either. It is commonly thought that stuffing a bird adds about five minutes per pound to the cooking time, and it is still up for debate as to whether brining (slightly) lengthens or shortens cooking time. The surest way to know your bird and stuffing is finished, is to check that the thigh, breast, and stuffing have all reached 165 **
**Basting your turkey with the drippings every half hour to hour never hurts, and ensures that you’ll have a lovely golden-brown turkey. But is not necessary for the centerpiece of your meal to turn out well**
Recipes modified from AllRecipes.com, and MyRecipes.com
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