Thanksgiving is almost upon us, potentially the most anticipated meal day of the American calendar year and I’m here to help you make those last minute decisions and drop a little wisdom on you to help you maximize your Turkey Day potential.
Lets start with the bird. Now this post is going up on Wednesday morning, and if you’re reading it and you DO NOT have a thawed turkey in your possession, go fix that. Now.
- Thawing: A good amount of you might be procurring frozen turkeys today, and if you think that it’s going to thaw in your fridge in one day, you’re gonna be all over Boston Market come Thursday. To thaw your frozen bird find a container big enough to hold it, then fill the container with cold water. Then let a steady, slow, stream of water run into the container for an hour or two. The bird should be thawed in no time.
- Brining: Turkey might be the ultimate meat to brine. Make sure you have a water tight container, with a lid, big enough to hold the bird. Start with a gallon of Ginger Ale. Stir in 1/2 c of sugar and 1/4 cup of salt (check to see if your turkey is already seasoned, look for the words “brine” or “injected” on the packaging, if so then cut the salt down to 1/8 cup). Add in some aromatics like fresh or dry Thyme, Rosemary or Sage. A few quartered onions, some celery, and a few smashed cloves of garlic will polish this brine up nicely.
- Storing: Can’t fit the brined bird in your fridge? Check the temperature outside. Is the daily high 41 or below? If the answer is “yes” then the world is your cooler! Stash your contained turkey outside, up off the ground, making sure the container its in is completely water tight, as to keep the elements from being a bother.
- Frying: Frying your turkey? (I highly recommend you do if you can) Do it outside, in the grass. Not on the deck, not on the patio, on the driveway or in the grass. If things go wrong you’ll thank me. Make sure the turkey is 100% thawed and dry. If you brined, marinated, or just recently thawed your bird take some paper towels and dry it off, inside and out. Loose excess moisture is what causes boil overs, have a thawed dry turkey will help prevent that.
- Frying Temp: If you brined your turkey youll want to fry the turkey “relatively” low. That’s about 275 once the bird is in raise the heat to get to 325 (300 if you’re dealing with a particularly large bird) and keep the oil temperature there until the bird is cooked. The sugars in the brine will cause the skin to burn if you hit to hot, to fast. If you didn’t brine it or otherwise introduce sugar to the equation then start at the same 275F but bring the oil temp up to 375 (35o if you’re dealing with a particularly large bird)
- Is It Done Yet: Go buy a decent meat thermometer. Cook till your get a reading of 1 60 from the thickest part of the breast.
- Resting: Once your turkey is cooked (whether you fried or baked it) Let it sit for about 20 minutes, lightly draped with a cover of foil (not to tight, you dont want to hold steam in)
- Keep your Mashed Potatoes simple, but good. Dont skimp on the butter, its Thanksgiving, Paula Deen that shit.
- Find a good stuffing recipe
- Errbody likes sweet potatoes
- Dont used canned corn, get fresh frozen corn and toss with melted butter, salt, and pepper. Lay it out on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350F. Mix in some caramelized Red Onions for good color and amazing flavor.
- Use French Onion Soup and a little heavy cream, instead of cream of mushroom, for a Green Bean Casserole (especially good if you’re allergic to shrooms as I am)
- Knock together an easy homemade gravy. Melt two sticks of butter, whisk in 1/2 a cup of flour over low heat slowly. If the mixture starts to get to thick add a little olive oil to thin it back down. Cook the roux over low heat, stirring constantly. Slowly pour in 2 quarts of room temperature low sodium chicken stock whisking vigorously. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add in one beef bullion cube, 1 tbsp of dry thyme, a tiny splash of Worcestershire sauce and a big pinch of black pepper (to taste, I like a lot of pepper). Simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust the thickness with more stock (to thin it out) or a little cornstarch mixed with water (to thicken it up) . Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream once its finished.
Hopefully some of these last minute tips have helped make your Turkey Day a good one. Eat well, and cook on.