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turkey play by play (ftw).

November 22, 2009

As Thanksgiving approached, and as our ski trip approached even faster, I felt a strong gratitude to the fates of this earth that I would escape yet another year of being forced to present a portion of the Thanksgiving meal to friends and family for their judgement and critique.  Only once before have I taken on the huge burden of cooking for a special family occasion.  Needless to say I now have a dish with the word “surprise” after it in the title.  It’s never good when you make a meal that in no way was intended to be a surprise but is titled as such despite it.  Especially when that meal was macaroni and cheese.

Just as I was becoming comfortable and confident in my ability to always avoid cooking for others, I was assigned a main dish for our small group Thanksgiving meal.  It is not cost effective to buy a fully cooked/dressed turkey on short notice, therefore I would have to buck up and make it myself.

This is a true account of my latest endeavor in cooking.

Step One:  Get fierce.  Really ramp yourself up.  Get in front of the mirror and practice your best model faces.  Put on jewelry you love.  Sport the heels if you have to.  Whatever it takes to make yourself believe you are a strong and confident woman, capable of accomplishing any goal set before you.  Even graciously accepting criticism when your macaroni and cheese turns into a starchy ball of noodly cheesiness.


Step Two:  Purchase ingredients.  Line them up in order of size.  Photograph them.  This really locks in the flavor.

Step Three:  Get busy with the BRINE by simmering two ounces of vegetable stock in a large pot.  I was going to use a smaller pot but remembered that before it was all said and done I would also be adding a significant amount of cold water to the BRINE.  I would hate to overflow the BRINE.  (can you tell I like the word “BRINE”?)

Step Four:  Add an insane amount of salt.  Two cups to be exact.  Don’t worry.  All the salty goodness gets rinsed off the turkey lurkey before it’s cooked…so you only actually ingest what gets soaked into the meat during the BRINING process.  I think you’ll live through it.

Step Five:  Add 1 tablespoon each of dried Thyme/Sage/Rosemary.  Let this simmer until the salt is good and dissolved.  Once it has effectively smelled up your house (in a good way), pull off the heat and let it cool while you wrestle your turkey to the ground and beat it into submission.

Step 6:  Wrestle your turkey to the ground and beat it into submission.

Step 7:  Call your husband into the kitchen so the two of you can laugh and play with your defrosted turkey.  Take photos.  Try not to laugh directly over the turkey.  It’s not hygienic.

Step 8:  Get that submitted turkey into a BRINING bag.  Once your BRINE has officially cooled, add an additional 2 cups of cold water to it.  Stir and pour into your BRINING bag.  Tie it up and let that bad boy soak overnight or however long you have.  I soaked over night.  Personally I like any kind of cooking I can do in my sleep.  It makes me feel domesticated.

Step 9:  Clean that BRINEY mess of a turkey completely off.  I didn’t take any photos of this step because it was 6:30 in the morning and the site of that bald and BRINED turkey about had me in the bathroom clutching the hardwood.  The last thing I was thinking was “how will the internet people know how to wash off a turkey if I don’t show them?”.  You’ll be fine.  Just rinse it thoroughly and wrap it up tight with some heavy duty tin foil.  Drop that sucker in a preheated oven at 275 degrees.  I went by the “10 minutes per lb” rule.  It worked out pretty nice.  That had me at 2 hours, which I effectively used to have approximately 3 nightmares on my couch.

Step 10: After your turkey lurkey has been roasting for the chosen amount of time, uncover it from the foil and re-cover that bad boy in some melted butter.  That’s right.  Soak it in salt and then cover it in butter.  This isn’t for the weak of heart.  You must crave cholesterol to eat with me.  Repeat this step about every 20-30 minutes.  I re-coated every 20 minutes because I love butter and anytime I can brush it on something, I’m doing so as frequently as humanly possible.  At this point I also upped the ante a bit on the temp (I was running late and feared an underdone bird).

Step 11:  I read several different ideas on where to let the bird stop cooking, but I went ahead and pulled it out at 165 degrees internally.  Pioneer Woman says that the bird doesn’t stop cooking just cause you’ve pulled it out of the oven, so beware of getting it too hot inside.  I believe her because she likes butter almost as much as I do.  We have a strange kinship.  And what is friendship if there isn’t trust?

Step 12:  This was supposed to be when I took the money shot.  However I let the carver start before I documented the finished product.  So based on this photo alone you are supposed to see how amazing it was.  See that beautiful golden color?  Yeah that’s because of how crazy I went with the butter.  I’ll have you know that butter skin was awesome.

Step 13:  Eat every single ounce of meat off the bone.  Go ahead.  It just feels right.

Step 14:  When you are done with that, let the biggest dude in the room eat the scraps.   I believe this to be a testament to its gloriousness.  Nobody can call this a turkey surprise.  Not when you eat the scraps.

Step 15:  Let your husband take you out for a celebratory ice cream.  Tell everyone you know that you successfully cooked a bird and even soaked it overnight in BRINE.  And if they don’t know what BRINE is….laugh maniacally and walk away gratified with yourself.  Even if you didn’t know what BRINE was 24 hours ago.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Debbie Woods permalink
    November 22, 2009 11:42 pm

    Great Job! next thanksgiving at Bella’s house. You can do the same thing with chicken. We are so proud!
    LOVE DEBBIE

    • November 23, 2009 11:24 pm

      if i only have to invite two other people we are fine….my table only seats four. makes for a nontraditional thanksgiving when people have to sit on the floor.

  2. jamie permalink
    November 22, 2009 11:45 pm

    Aww girl – and those of us in the “I can cook if I have to, but I don’t have the patience or the passion” section are so very proud 🙂

    So, Cho was singing your song tonight – let’s just say there’s a freckle somewhere and he’s pretty – because Stephanie had a scarf on like you wear and it reminded him of you.

    And all that being said…I just miss your face 🙂

    Have a wonderful trip to CO!

    love you!

    • November 23, 2009 11:24 pm

      tell Cho that I miss his spinky little face 🙂

  3. Nicole S permalink
    November 23, 2009 11:38 am

    Looks yummy! Good job…pretty sure I could never pull this off myself. You should feel VERY proud of yourself and your BRINE. Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  4. November 23, 2009 11:41 am

    Way to go! And, you managed to make me hungry before noon (which isn’t a HUGE feat, but still…loves it!

    Swooshhh…Swishhhh…Swooshhhhh…(The slopes are calling you!)

  5. November 23, 2009 2:12 pm

    I loved this post…from your “fierce” look to the documentation of the whole process!

    While I feel pretty comfortable cooking, I am terrified of making a turkey. I don’t know why. Wait, yes, I do. The whole raw-bird-looking-too-much-like-a-real-bird-thing really freaks me out.

  6. November 23, 2009 5:36 pm

    Martha says 165 too. I’m pretty jealous that you got to make a turkey and I didn’t.

  7. November 23, 2009 8:16 pm

    wow! mad props on your magnificently briney turkey, it looked delicious!

  8. November 23, 2009 11:26 pm

    thanks for the mad love ladies! i feel like i’m almost ready to start really trying to cook on a more regular basis.

    God help us all.

  9. Jeff your Uncle permalink
    November 24, 2009 3:04 pm

    Your aunt Jeanne makes a pretty darn good Turkey. But the key is her stuffing. It is the best. I am glad you did so well.

  10. mamma di permalink
    November 27, 2009 12:07 pm

    I could not be prouder. I’m so sorry I never made you cook at home. But, it looks like you are doing just fine. Next year, you can cook for us.

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