Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Preparations, Cardinal Sins, and Thanksgiving

I threatened Chinese takeout this year.

Not because I hate Thanksgiving, but because my house is a disaster from hunting, I had software issues yesterday, and just a bad day in general.  So my Chinese takeout rant was accepted, noted, and approved--if that's really what I wanted to do.

Actually, it wasn't.  I had a home-grown turkey thawed in my refrigerator (we butchered her in September), and enough stuffing to fill three birds.  The cranberry chutney I made in October and canned.  Garnet yams are on the kitchen table waiting to be cooked.  So, no.  I wasn't really serious.

My husband is good natured enough to go along with whatever I want.  But I remember while hiking, looking for nonexistent elk on a ranch him talking wistfully about turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry chutney. 

So tonight I made the mashed potatoes and brined the turkey.  Brining is an old way of making sure the meat is moist when you roast it.  Think of it like marinading.  The turkey companies brine their "self-basting" birds, but use a mixture of chemicals besides salt.  Brine is typically salt and whatever else you want to put in.

I have to brine my birds because I skin them.  I do this as self-defense against plucking.  However the downside is you risk a dry turkey because without the skin, turkey dries out.  Hence the brining. 

You can just use salt and water, or you can get creative and use fruit juices.  I use cranberry, spiced apple cider, and orange juice along with garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, and bay leaf.  The spices in the apple cider add cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.  The mix is unforgettably good. 

I've gone to simpler is better.  I commit cardinal sins and use organic turkey gravy, organic packaged stuffing, organic mixed vegetables, and my mother-in-law is bringing a store-bought pie.  Some things aren't worth the hassle.  Other things, like homemade mashed potatoes, are. 

Tomorrow, I'll make the yams and probably mix up the biscuits.  That will be plenty--and very yummy. 

Have a happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it.

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