Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Little Bit Comfort, A Little Bit Rock 'N Roll: Brine It For "GOODNESS" Sake!

A Little Bit Comfort, A Little Bit Rock 'N Roll: Brine It For "GOODNESS" Sake!

Brine It For "GOODNESS" Sake!

Here I go again, so for those of you who have heard this sermon before, I apologize. And if you haven't followed my lead....time to do so. For any new converts, I want to share of the very best cooking tips I know of and one that is so essential this time of the year, in particular.
I have gone on and on in past blogs about the benefits of brining a bird. Big bird, little bird, fried or roasted. If you've never tried it, do yourself a favor and make this the year you take that leap of faith and take a walk on the wild side....so to speak. When I first started brining my holiday turkey a few years ago, brining was not really very mainstream, but you can bet a few really great turkey recipes had brining as a big part of that magic ingredient lots of us could never quite put our finger on or get right. Now brining is out of the closet and rightfully so. The method is front and center of every Thanksgiving edition of all the cooking magazines and on every Food Network rerun between now and Christmas. I like to think I was cutting edge: You know.....brining when brining wasn't cool.
There are several brining recipes out there and you can pretty much count on all of them. The trick is to get the right ratio of saline (salt) and liquid. I am a purist, using water or a combination of apple cider and water, with salt, but the newest versions offer up all kinds of concoctions adding peppercorns, any poultry herb or seasoning you usually reserve for the bird, and some of the good ole southern versions, use sweet tea or tea bags. Yes, really.
I guarantee you will have the moistest turkey ever and everyone will ask you how you did it. I brine anything with wings before roasting, frying or baking. So, go find a big, ole cooler and get ready to knock their socks off with your new Thanksgiving tradition.
I'm giving you the link to Alton Brown's recipe 'cause you brining doubters might trust his credentials more than mine. Why him being a Food Network Star, Food Scientist, Referee of the Iron Chefs and all....I'd say he has some "chops" and knows his "stuff"-ing. You'll thank me later when you become a convert and baptize your bird in brine for the first time.
My version? I use water and salt, a cooler and some ice. An elementary version of My Roasting Recipe? Simply said......
Rinse your brined turkey and dry well. Make sure you pat the skin dry. Then I put unsalted butter under under the skin of the breast and legs, and smear lots more all over. Then salt and pepper inside and out, and a few sprigs of fresh sage, parsley and thyme in the cavity with a split, unpeeled onion. Last year I threw in a couple of carrots cut in two and a coupla ribs of celery with the leafy tops. I don't go coo-coo with rosemary because I think it's a bit too strong, tho it does look pretty as a garnish on the platter. I am fortunate that I have fresh herbs year 'round (thanks, Geraldo!!!) and one of my happiest moments is when I go out to harvest them for a big holiday meal. I keep a small saucepan of unsalted butter on a warm back burner so I can baste the turkey for the last hour of cooking. I also use the turkey drippings to baste with. (All this goodness at the bottom of the pan mixed with a little flour and chicken stock make for a delicious pan gravy.) I start my bird breast side up and high heat. Around 400-425 for 45 minutes, till the breast starts getting nice and golden brown, then I adjust the oven to 350 and cook till a meat thermometer reads 180. (Don't cook your turkey for 4 hours like folks used to. That's a little long, unless you got a giant turkey. That's a whole 'nother blog!!) Make sure to read the cooking and time directions that come on the label of your bird and go by that. And please, do use a meat thermometer when you think it might be done. Rotate the turkey in the oven for even browning and if any parts start getting too brown, use some aluminum foil to cover them.
Let your finished turkey rest on the counter, tented in foil for at least 30 minutes before carving. There is a lot of cooking still going on after it's out of the oven. Pinch yourself off some of that good crunchy skin when no one's looking and cut a chunk of white meat from the neck end, or a piece of dark meat from the bottom of the thigh if you prefer the dark meat. The point is, you have wrestled this delicious piece of art for 2 days, brining and roasting, and deserve first dibs. And let's face it....if you're like me, you can't wait any longer....Get 'ya some!! I feel that's just good, quality control. Now, go brine a bird and see what I've been squawking about!
Below, from the Food Network, online and published in this month's Thanksgiving edition of their magazine, is this great recipe from Alton Brown.
ALTON BROWN'S BRINING & ROASTED TURKEY RECIPE
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/good-eats-roast-turkey-recipe/index.html

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COMFORTCOOK@gmail.com
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"AT HOME ON THE RANGE CATERING" lisagschmidt@hotmail.com
Nashville, TN- 615-525-8336
I would love to hear from you!!!

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