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Old 12-16-2004, 11:54 PM   #1
 
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Christmas Dinner Plans

For those of us planning "something fowl" for the 25th...could we start a "recipe planner" here?

I will likely be cooking two turkeys in the Holiday season, one Christmas Day, 18-20 lb farm fresh unfrozen bird is what I've ordered, but will not be "confirmed" in size or content until I pick it up on the 23rd...Daughter #2 presented me with a 13-15 lb frozen bird at 0200 today from her "work" at UPS, which will hit the oven on New Years Day or Eve...(noting the leftovers of "Bird 1" will be going home with visiting Daughter 1 and Son 1)...

Me being me, I'm going to stuff these both internally, and have some good advice from BuckyTom and great discussions with GoodWeed on the content and method of doing so that I am anxious to try, as well as the point that this weekend I will be hunting down/scouting out and otherwise be looking for "fresh" herbs, most of which are attainable (but I would love you guys to continue with "suggestions"!)

Further, I plan on "brining", but the big bird, at, potentially, 20 lbs, is a tad bigger than I am used to...and therefore the timings and strength, let alone content of the brine are a source of concern...my last "Science Experiment" (see below!) turned out poorly, and I expectwe would all like our Christmas Birds to be "Perfection"...so if I could entice you to suggest your rubs, wraps, brines, methods, "flips", temperatures and timings...well, it could make it all that much better for all of us, couldn't it?

Will look forward to your interests and replies...

Lifter

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Old 12-17-2004, 05:54 AM   #2
 
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Lifter, I have said before, I am not much a believer in strict timings and temperatures.

Such things have too many variables -- what is done for you, could be raw to me. Just go with the flow a little, and cook your birds until you are satisfied it is done to your liking, after your brining.

That being said, I like to rub my bird, under and on the skin with a mixture of garlic and butter and fresh ground pepper. I may start my bird out at 350, but if it looks like it is browning faster than it should, turn it down to 325 and/or cover it with foil [I generally use a covered roaster, so that is not an issue. I remove the cover when it is almost done, and let it brown].
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:56 AM   #3
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According to ATK, you must brine at least 4 hours to get any benefit, and there is no additional benefit to brining over 12 hours. If you go with the short time, add 1 cup salt per gallon of water. If you go with the long time, add 1/2 cup salt per gallon of water. Air drying in the refrigerator after brining will result in a crisper skin. I'm going to brine for 12 hours and air dry for 12 hours. If your frozen bird is basted, you do not want to brine it. I haven't added sugar in the past, but plan on trying some brown sugar this time. Hope it comes out better for you this time.
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Old 12-17-2004, 09:33 AM   #4
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Lifter, like Chocolatechef, I like to "massage" my bird with butter and fresh herbs. For Thanksgiving, I used one very soft stick of butter and minced some fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage. I placed my turkey on a mir poix (am I spelling that right?). Turned out better than ever, although it cooked much more quickly than I'd calculated. That however is the fault of my very tempermental oven, and unfortunately can't be prevented!
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Old 12-17-2004, 11:14 AM   #5
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I neglected to mention it, but I also do mirepoix - some in the bird and some in the bottom of the pan. Also in the bottom of the pan, I put a can of Swanson's Chicken Broth - this also helps with moistness (I roast the turkey on a rack so it's not soaking in the broth).
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:31 PM   #6
 
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Thanks guys, am adding a few ingredients to my shopping list off of this...

Lifter
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Old 12-17-2004, 09:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choclatechef
Lifter, I have said before, I am not much a believer in strict timings and temperatures.

Such things have too many variables -- what is done for you, could be raw to me. Just go with the flow a little, and cook your birds until you are satisfied it is done to your liking, after your brining.

That being said, I like to rub my bird, under and on the skin with a mixture of garlic and butter and fresh ground pepper. I may start my bird out at 350, but if it looks like it is browning faster than it should, turn it down to 325 and/or cover it with foil [I generally use a covered roaster, so that is not an issue. I remove the cover when it is almost done, and let it brown].
choc, everything you make, you make sound so simple, but then i realize you are talking about variables that only an experienced hand knows. i would love to eat at your house someday. ( i would be too nervous to cook for you, so i'd take you to my fav places.)
i guess what i'm saying is it's kinda like the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
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Old 12-17-2004, 10:53 PM   #8
 
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Just located the original "brining" recipe that I first started with, as follows:

1 x 14-16 lb turkey

1 cup salt
2 tablespoons molasses
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock OR water
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 gallon iced water

Combine first 7 ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then refridgerate.

When "ready to go", combine brine with ice water, insert the turkey, breast side down and soak for 6 hours in an environment below 40 degrees F.

Remove, discard the brine, pat dry, and season exterior with 2 table spoons salt, 2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper, 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, insert in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, remove roaster, reduce heat to 350, tent with aluminum foil, reinsert and complete cooking until breast reads 165...remove and allow to cool 20 minutes until ready to carve.

Notes that the "water medium" inserted to the bird, with the salts "improves" conductivity to heat, and thus the bird will be "done" about 20 minutes ahead of the "unbrined" schedule.

From the last several months discussions, you'll understand that I have "tweaked" this according to my own "tastes", and "experiments" (not all of which were successes!), so I felt it best to lay out a written record of an actual "recipe" that I started from...

I think any number of members have made solid cases for including rosemary, thyme, basil, bay leaves, etc, to the bining mix, and not to be shy on the quantities, that the "herbing" effects are well worth the while.

I will also confess that I've never used the molasses in this recipe, as our family never buys molasses, as we don't use it for anything else; further, from personal preference, I shifted from "molasses+light brown sugar" to top grade maple syrup, which, admittedly, is probably a good deal sweeter, (masking more of the salty taste?)

I really like Otter's "rub" of Herbes des Provence as a concept, and its one I will explore!

It is likewise interesting to read of those who will inject, separate the sking and insert oils and herbs, "chill" the bird to get a crispier skin, and, of course, "flip the bird" in order to retain juices in the breast, by cooking the dark meat faster in the initial cooking...while paying close attention to Jennyma's admonishment on the temperatures of the white meat (165), dark meat (180) and stuffing (140), given the ability of the bird to continue to rise in tempy's after its been removed from the oven (about 5-10 degrees)...

Did I miss anyone's successful ideas? I hope not, and did not mean to!

But again, if any members/readers have other ideas or experiences to contribute, please do! Lets make this Christmas's dinner the very best we have ever achieved ourselves, or eaten!

Lifter
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Old 12-17-2004, 11:01 PM   #9
 
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OOPS!

Forgot to add my own "weird" thing about suspending my turkeys/chickens on skewers to keep my pans easier to clean, birds easier to "flip", and not allowing the drippings to saturate the meat (I'd sooner have the gravy!)...or Otter's method of using some sort of roasting rack to keep the bird out of the drippings, which would work equally well, if making the "flip" a bit more challenging...

Lifter
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