First thing… I made my first video… what do you think????
And now, on to Thanksgiving…
A body of work is an interesting thing.
Last year I posted about making a… Beer Butt Turkey.
Also, I made a… Fried Turkey.
And of course I made a… Smoked Turkey.
If you haven’t decided how you want to cook your bird, take a look at those links for tips. BUT, no matter how you make your bird this year, there are three simple steps you can use to make sure your bird is tender, juicy and most important, NOT dried out.
First is the easiest, pull that pop-up thermometer thingy out of your turkey and invest in a meat prop thermometer. Internal temperature of a fully cooked turkey is only 170 degrees. Those pop up thingies pop up when the bird is 185 degrees. And 185 degrees on the outer layer of the bird. Guaranteed to be too dry on the inside.
170 degrees is safe, cooked and moist and delicious. Be sure to measure the temp at several points of the bird (including the thickest part of the thigh). If all are 170 degrees, your bird is done!
Second is to cook your stuffing as dressing. DO NOT STUFF YOUR TURKEY. There are two reasons, first, if you densely stuff the cavity, it is possible that the turkey juices will not reach a high enough temperature to kill bacteria. Food poisoning your guests will make for a memorable holiday, but it is not as much fun to watch football.
But also, it makes the bird thicker, harder to reach that consistent 170 degree temperature throughout. If the cavity is empty, the hot air circulates inside as well as around the outside of the bird. Bird cooks faster and more even. That 170 degree mark is reached sooner and the bird is juicy throughout.
Finally… BRINE YOUR TURKEY!
A honey brine. the night before the cook, I assembled my brining liquid…
3 gallons of water
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
5 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups honey
5 cups ice
Heat 1 gallon water and the salt. Stir til all the salt is dissolved. Add the honey, again, stir til dissolved. Dump into a clean cooler, mix together everything else and add the bird. This also works well in one of those BIG freezer bags. Don’t add the ice, but put the bagged bird into a cooler and than add ice and some water to surround the bagged bird and keep it from getting to room temps.
Let sit for 12 to 24 hours.
I was sharing space with my neighbors bird, who was also frying his bird.
Making a brine is simple, and is a wonderful way to add moisture to your finished product. My sainted mother would use that hideous pop-up built in thermometer as her way of telling when the turkey is done. IN FACT, those thermometers are set to go off at about 180 degrees, guaranteeing your bird will be dry and tough prior to serving. Ideal internal temperature is only 165 degrees. Every degree above that only dries out your bird. But I digress…
Brining adds moisture to your bird, and allows the bird to cook more evenly. Smarter people than I have done the science research. Click HERE to go to The Kitchen Project‘s page on brining. He goes through the science of what a brine does, recipes, history and techniques.
Happy Holidays, enjoy your day and have a moist, tender, golden brown and delicious bird!
And so can you!