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How are you cooking the Thanksgiving bird?

ccc123

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I usually brine, and then roast whole - but the Julia Child method of carving up and roasting parts separately have me thinking about giving it a try. Anyone have a favorite way or method they like best
 

ccc123

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Originally Posted by maxnharry
I brine and then roast using the Ina Garten method. Pretty pedestrian. As a Yankee exchange student living in the South, I like the taste of deep friend turkey, but the news coverage of all of the house fires has kept me from trying it.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/i...pe4/index.html


I have done the deep fried many times and its always a big hit - once i realized that you could brine and also fry, this took on a whole new level of success! -
 

Spatlese

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Sous vide for 144 hours. Just kidding. We usually roast it whole, but I like the concept of carving it up first.

And don't forget about the quantity of gravy as recently discussed in another thread.
 

ccc123

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Originally Posted by Spatlese
Sous vide for 144 hours. Just kidding. We usually roast it whole, but I like the concept of carving it up first.

And don't forget about the quantity of gravy as recently discussed in another thread.


A must for sure! Thanks
 

Lucky7

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brine and deep fry...absolutely love it!
 

blackjack

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Although somewhat counter-intuitive, salting a turkey, works better than brining.

An old LA Times article:

THE CALIFORNIA COOK
The Great Turkey Smackdown!
Four birds, four different ways to roast: The winner? A new method that's rocked our world.
By Russ Parsons, Times Staff Writer
November 15, 2006


IS there a bird that's better than brined?

For the last decade or so, many of us have adopted as part of our Thanksgiving ritual soaking our turkeys in salt water for several days before roasting them. This isn't weird; it really works. Birds that have been brined stay much moister than turkeys that have not.

Still, there's no arguing with the fact that there are drawbacks to the technique. You've got to find a bucket big enough to hold a turkey, to start with "” and a clean one. And then you've got to find room in your refrigerator to store it for the better part of a week.

Is there a better way?

Last Thanksgiving, we at the Food Section introduced readers to a steam-roasting technique. Turkey baked in a covered roaster pan "” you know, the kind your grandma used "” stays moist in a different way. During normal uncovered roasting, any juices that leak out of the bird are converted to steam by the hot pan and evaporate. Covering the pan reduces the amount of steam that gets away. A moist turkey with no advance preparation "” we really liked that idea.

And then there are those who swear by high-heat roasting for turkeys "” they claim quick cooking keeps the meat moist and improves the flavor because of the improved browning.

For the last year, I've been on a dry-salting craze. Almost every piece of protein that comes into my kitchen sits under a light sprinkling of salt for anywhere from an hour to several days before I cook it (as you can imagine, my wife and daughter have been hiding in other parts of the house). Meat that has been left to sit under salt has a deeper, more concentrated flavor and the texture is moist, but firm and more meaty.

This technique is something I learned from Judy Rodgers, chef at San Francisco's landmark Zuni Cafe. I've used it with fish fillets (which take only an hour or so of curing), chicken, both parts and whole (anywhere from eight hours to a couple of days), and even a beef tenderloin (several days).

I call it "Judy-ing," and it has worked wonders with everything I've tried it on. But how would it work with turkey, which is so much larger than any of the meats I cook during the rest of the year? Would the salt penetrate all the way to the center of the breast and thighs? I was a little skeptical (and so was Judy when I asked her), but it was worth a try.

Thus was born the Great Turkey Smackdown of 2006: Four turkeys, four ovens, four techniques tested side by side: one brined, one steam-roasted, one high-heat-roasted and one "Judy-ed." Once and for all, we'd find the best way to roast a turkey.

Fire up the ovens

IT'S no wonder so many Thanksgiving turkeys wind up so disappointing. Turkeys are notoriously difficult to get exactly right, even for experienced cooks. In the first place, they're composed of two contradictory meats "” white breast meat that dries out in a flash and dark leg meat that seems to take forever to get done. On top of that, they are huge, which magnifies any mistake in timing.

Most cooks know about brining, which not only adds moisture to the bird and seasons it throughout but also helps the muscles hold on to that moisture during cooking by altering the electrical charges of the protein strands.

Salting works similarly to brining, except it doesn't use any water. It's remarkably simple. You just sprinkle the turkey with salt, then set it aside for four days for a 12- to 16-pound bird. At first, the salt pulls moisture from the meat, but as time passes, almost all of those juices are reabsorbed, bringing the salt along with them.

But maybe I was over-thinking the whole thing; perhaps high-temperature roasting wasn't such a bad idea. If a 400-degree oven makes a chicken with crisp brown skin and moist flesh, why wouldn't it do the same thing for a turkey? Wouldn't it be great if the solution to all of our turkey woes could be so easy?

The Smackdown, we hoped, would answer these questions. We bought four fresh free-range turkeys as close to the same size as we could find "” about 15 pounds. We started the two that needed advance preparation, salting one, brining the other and storing them in 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bags. The Times Test Kitchen's ovens had recently been calibrated, assuring accurate temperatures. We assembled four similar heavy-gauge, anodized aluminum roasting pans.

For the brining, we used a standard ratio of two-thirds cup salt to 1 gallon water. For the salting, we allowed 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 pounds of turkey "” just short of one-fourth cup "” and concentrated the distribution on the thickest parts of the meat, the breast and the thigh.

After three days, we removed both from their bags and let all four turkeys air-dry in the refrigerator overnight "” the fan that circulates cold air also works very well at drying poultry skin.

On the big day, we salted the two that had not been seasoned. Then we put them all in the oven, without stuffing. We started the brined and salted birds at 375 degrees, breast-side down, and then after 30 minutes we flipped them and reduced the temperature to 325 degrees.

Following the recipe, we started the covered-pan turkey at 425 degrees then immediately turned it down to 325 degrees before removing the lid and browning the turkey at 350 degrees for the last half-hour.

We simply roasted the high-heat turkey at 400 degrees, breast-side up, from beginning to end.

None of the birds were basted. For all, we were aiming for a final temperature of 165 degrees measured in the deepest part of the thigh.

The first surprise was an unpleasant one. When we took the temperatures after only a little more than two hours of cooking, the covered-pan turkey had already soared past 180 degrees "” well past well-done. We would have to try that one again. The other three finished cooking within a very short time of each other "” roughly three hours. The one roasted at high temperature ended up being done only about 15 minutes faster than the birds roasted at the conventional temperature.

We let the birds set for 30 minutes to finish cooking and enable the juices to re-distribute evenly through the meat.

The Times Tasting Panel waited eagerly as I carved the birds, both white meat and dark. Joining me on the panel were staff writers Charles Perry, Corie Brown and Amy Scattergood, test kitchen director Donna Deane, restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila, assistant food editor Betty Hallock, food editor Leslie Brenner and deputy features editor Michalene Busico.

The best-browned bird was the one we had brined. It was very moist "” both in the breast meat and in the thigh. And the flavor was good, not salty at all but well-seasoned throughout. So we hadn't been crazy for all those years. However, as we'd learn after tasting all the birds, it didn't have the best texture "” it was slightly spongy.

The high-temperature experiment was not nearly as successful as the brined. Far from solving the problem of the difference in doneness between dark and white meat, this magnified it. The flavor was fine, and the skin was brown and crisp. But though the breast meat had already started to dry out, the dark meat was still a little underdone "” it had that slightly rubbery rare-poultry texture and there was a little pink juice in the hip joint.

But the bird that got people most excited was the one we had Judy-ed. Unlike the brined turkey, which had a slightly spongy texture, the one that had only been salted was firm, meaty and smoothly dense. And though it was a bit too salty as prepared this first go-round, the underlying flavor of the turkey was amazing "” deep and full.

Suddenly, my Thanksgiving menu plans took a turn. This was one serious bird. People sampled it, went thoughtfully quiet a minute and then grabbed for more. The opinion of the panel was unanimous "” the Judy-ed bird, though it needed a bit of refinement to tone down the salt and crisp and brown the skin, was the clear winner.

To be fair to the steam-roasted turkey, we retested that one, but that didn't change the results of the Smackdown. Though it was certainly moist, the flavor was pallid in comparison with the other birds; it tasted more steamed than roasted.

To further refine the pre-salted turkey, we tried it again, this time reducing the salt, allowing only a tablespoon for every 5 pounds of bird. To improve the browning, we started roasting the bird at 425 degrees for 30 minutes instead of 375 degrees.

And we threw in one further wrinkle "” we brushed half of the bird with melted butter before it went into the oven to see what effect that had on browning and on flavor.

This time we hit it right on the money.

The turkey was a glorious brown all over "” the side brushed with butter might have had a slightly more golden color but only ever so slightly (and there was no difference in flavor at all). The skin was nicely crisp. The dark meat was firm and meaty and still incredibly moist "” enough that even after a half-hour's sitting there was a flood of juice when I carved it. The white meat was only slightly less so.

The problem with saltiness was solved. If anything, the breast meat could have used just a little more passed at the table for those of us with a salty palate. So next time, I might try upping the salt just a bit "” this is a recipe that will evolve over time.

And, maybe best of all, you no longer have to wrestle that big bucket of brine-soaked bird out of the refrigerator.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[email protected]

*

Roast salted turkey

Total time: 2 hours, 50 minutes

Servings: 11 to 15

Note: This is more a technique than a recipe. It makes a bird that has concentrated turkey flavor and fine, firm flesh and that is delicious as it is. But you can add other flavors as you wish. Minced rosemary would be a nice finishing addition. Or brush the bird lightly with butter before roasting.

1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey

Kosher salt

1. Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you'd have 3 tablespoons).

2. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You'll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not over-salted.

3. Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.

4. Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day.

5. Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.

6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

7. Place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up (it's easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts).

8. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.

9. Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.


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Each of 15 servings: 564 calories; 77 grams protein; 0 carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 26 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 261 mg. cholesterol; 856 mg. sodium.
 

kwilkinson

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I'm deepfrying a small one for the family, and then we'll get a regular sized on for the "normal" (read: boring) folk and brine and then roast it.
 

VKK3450

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Why do we eat Turkey for Thanksgiving / Christmas, etc?

Its really a lesser bird compared to duck or goose or something, and people never end up cooking it right (turns out dry).

K
 

skalogre

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No one adventurous enough to go for the obvious solution, turkey sashimi?
 

Milhouse

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Originally Posted by VKK3450
Why do we eat Turkey for Thanksgiving / Christmas, etc?

Its really a lesser bird compared to duck or goose or something, and people never end up cooking it right (turns out dry).

K


I agree 100% that a duck or goose is a better bird. Duck is definitely my favorite bird to eat.

Perhaps we use turkeys for holiday celebrations because a turkey is the largest of the birds and makes sense for a "feast".
 

Spatlese

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On the subject of superior birds, has anybody tried a turducken recently?


Or this kind of roast (excerpt from the wiki entry on turduckens):

The largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the early 19th century (originally called a Rôti Sans Pareil, or "Roast without equal") - a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an Ortolan Bunting and a Garden Warbler. The final bird is small enough that it can be stuffed with a single olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. This dish probably could not be legally recreated in the modern era as many of the listed birds are now protected species.
 

Connemara

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We don't deepfry in the Northeast, that is too....plebeian.
Roast it up baby!
 

VKK3450

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Originally Posted by Milhouse
I agree 100% that a duck or goose is a better bird. Duck is definitely my favorite bird to eat.

Perhaps we use turkeys for holiday celebrations because a turkey is the largest of the birds and makes sense for a "feast".


Yeah, I guess it does have the grandness effect of a big bird (even though most people cook one twice the size that they actually need.

Talking to another friend, they offered the idea that turkey is much cheaper per pound than something like goose. I'm not implying that people are cheaping out at the holidays, but if one has to feed ~20 people, then turkey is much more reasonable than other birds or roasts.

I think that I am going to change family tradition to eat something much jucier and more flavourful than turkey

K
 

DNW

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Originally Posted by Spatlese
On the subject of superior birds, has anybody tried a turducken recently?
Or this kind of roast (excerpt from the wiki entry on turduckens): The largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the early 19th century (originally called a Rôti Sans Pareil, or "Roast without equal") - a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an Ortolan Bunting and a Garden Warbler. The final bird is small enough that it can be stuffed with a single olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. This dish probably could not be legally recreated in the modern era as many of the listed birds are now protected species.

I made one last year, but not from scratch. I bought it from a place out of Louisiana. It was more of a novelty thing than anything. Other than the texture, the flavors of the birds kinda melded together, so you couldn't really taste them apart from each other. Although, I must say, it's not as boring as eating just a regular turkey. Everyone who ate it still talks about it now. If you have to feed more than a dozen people, I highly recommend trying it at least once. P.S. it's got something like 1,000 calories per serving. And you know, you can't have just one.
 

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