In Norway the traditonal christmas dinner is rib of pork or lamb, or the more excentric "Lutefisk" (fish soaked in caustic soda ), but new yeara eve is turkey night. As most of you guys probably are experts on turkey dinners, I beg for your help. This new year we are having our good neighbours over for dinner, and I'm the chef for the evening. What is your secrets for making a successful and memorable meal?
The secret is lots of love and laughter. I buy a 15-20 lb. bird (depending on the number). Take the gizzards out and put them in a separate pot with onions, celery, poultry seasoning, rosemary, and water. I use this for basting and moistening the stuffing. I take softened butter and rub the turkey down with it, sprinkle it with poultry seasoning and rosemary. I make my stuffing using the Pepperidge Farm Seasoned Stuffing croutons, but you can make your own if you like. To the croutons I add, celery, onion, walnuts, the broth from the pan with the gizzards and stuff, then pack the turkey with the dressing. I put the turkey in at 350 degrees and baste every 20-30 minutes. I like my turkey well-done, so I cook it until it's really golden brown, usually around 4-6 hours. Then I take the drippings from the turkey and make gravy. I start with butter and flour and brown that, then add the drippings. I serve with mash potatoes, peas, Pillsbury crescent rolls, and cranberries (I either make my own or use the whole cranberry sauce and use a little orange zest in it). I like to have relish trays with celery sticks, carrots, grapes, olives (green and black), pepperoncinis, deviled eggs, mixed nuts (usually natural not canned), and some home-made chex mix. I try to make sure everyone has enough to drink so they think my food tastes good I know you'll have great success and I'm sure you'll get bunches of ideas from our board members!
We do almost exactly the same in preparing the bird, except we have been using the Reynold's oven bags the last few years. It seems like the turkey is more moist and still golden brown on the outside. We don't stuff the turkey though, we use the drippings, celery, onion, and seasonings and bake the stuffing in a pan.
Dave, Does the brining change the taste at all? I was thinking of trying that.
And yes, make sure the bird is thoroughly thawed in the fridge, as jmcs noted. It usually takes at least 4 days to thaw a frozen turkey depending on the size.
Brining makes a world of difference...
1 15-pound WHOLE TURKEY, (not self-basting or kosher) thawed, giblets and neck removed
2 Cups table salt (do not substitute equal amounts of kosher salt)
2 Gallons* icy cold water
4 Cups brown sugar, ** SEE NOTE
1/2 Cup dried rosemary leaves
1/2 Cup dried thyme leaves
Rinse turkey in cool water.
In a very large clean container (non-corrosive pan or stockpot such as stainless steel or glass or a food-grade plastic container), mix salt and water together until salt dissolves. Stir in brown sugar and spices, mix well until sugar dissolves.
Totally submerge poultry in solution and store, covered, in refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 8 hours. Since brining does not preserve meat, the turkey must be kept below 40 degrees F throughout the entire brining process. Ice packs may also be used to keep turkey at a safe temperature of below 40 degrees F.
Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine. Thoroughly rinse the interior and exterior of the turkey by placing it on a wire rack and setting both rack and turkey in a clean, empty sink. Use cool water from the spray hose and rub gently to release the salt and sugar from the turkey.
Pat skin and both interior cavities dry.
* NOTE: The ratio of water to salt is appropriate for a 15-pound turkey. If a larger or smaller turkey is brined, please calculate accordingly.
* *NOTE: Other combinations of herbs may be added including 6-8 bay leaves, 3 cloves garlic and 2 teaspoons black peppercorns. Or a spicy flavor may be achieved by the addition of 1 cup small dried red chile peppers.
1 Small onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled & cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Small stalk celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
4-6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
As needed fresh fruit for garnish
In the cavity of turkey, place onion, carrot and celery.
Brush turkey with melted butter.
Roast turkey, breast side down, in a preheated 325 degree F oven for 2 hours. During this time, baste legs and back twice with melted butter.
Remove turkey from oven and protecting your hands, grasp turkey with several layers of clean paper towels at both ends, and turn turkey, breast side up.
Return turkey to oven and continue to roast, basting twice with pan dripping. Continue to roast until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh. NOTE: A brined turkey cooks slightly faster than an unbrined turkey, so check the internal temperature frequently.
Remove turkey from the oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes before carving.
I've use the oven bags, too. I baste in the slits I cut and really don't have a dry bird. The brining technique does sound interesting and my hubby loves spicy food. I just might try that this year. I'm doing country ham for Christmas and turkey for New Years.