I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! It's always nice to have the whole family home and eating together at the dinner table. The last few years, my family always bought a frozen Jennie-O turkey, roasted it, and ate it with a salad on the side. As a family of four, we never finished even the leftovers within the next week, so this year we decided to buy just a breast and two legs (and we still have leftovers!). I spent all day preparing the dinner. My mom kept saying that I must be tired, but I love cooking, especially for other people, so I don't notice whether I'm tired or not. And if it gives my mom a break from the kitchen, then all the better.
Thanksgiving dinner was really a success because the picky eaters that are my dad and my sister enjoyed it very much. There was nothing that didn't fit my dad's tastes, as he's not a fan of any overpowering flavors, since I went easy on the herbs. He even liked the Pumpkin Pie! I thought he wouldn't because of all the spices, but the spices weren't as overpowering as I thought they would be and he also loves pumpkin, so it was fine.
I don't have pictures of my dinner to share just yet. I used my sister's camera and she didn't have the USB cord with her so I'll have to wait until I see her next time near Christmas. For now, I will share the recipe I used for the turkey. I decided to brine it because many people said that it always ends in a moist turkey. Since we were going to be eating mostly breast meat, the driest part, I thought brining seemed necessary. It turned out great! It also helped that we used fresh meat from Whole Foods and not frozen meat. Our turkey breast was about 4.5 lb so I just halved the recipe.
I can't wait for next Thanksgiving. I'm already looking at recipes for next year before I've even set the Christmas dinner menu for this year!
Roasted Brined Turkey
From Soup Belly
- 8 to 12 lb. fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 5 bay leaves
- 45 black peppercorns (about 1 tsp.)
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt [or 3/4 cup table salt]
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 quarts hot water
1. Combine all ingredients in pot for brine until salt is dissolved. Then add 3 quarts ice water, let stand until brine has cooled to at least colder than lukewarm.
2. Rinse turkey and pat dry; reserve neck and gizzards for Pan Gravy. Submerge turkey in cold brine. Press and weight down turkey with a clean plate or two. Refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.
3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Remove turkey from brine, discard brine and drain turkey well. Pat turkey dry with paper towels.
4. Place turkey, bone side down, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Tuck drumsticks under band of skin across the tail, or tie drumsticks to tail. Twist wing tips under back. Push meat thermometer into center of inside thigh muscle.
5. Roast turkey, uncovered, for 2 3/4 to 3 hours, or until meat thermometer registers 165 to 180 degrees, cutting the band of skin or string holding drumsticks and rotating pan halfway through roasting. If necessary, tent turkey breast with foil during last 30 minutes to prevent overbrowning (covering whole turkey will slow down cooking).
6. Remove turkey from oven. Let stand, covered, for 20 minutes. Makes 8 servings and leftovers.