The Turkey Struggle

About a week before Thanksgiving, I found out that my parents, despite not really wanting a turkey, had bought a turkey…the smallest one they could find. It was still a 10 pound Butterball though… We haven’t made turkey in the family for years and may have only done it once. So, my brother decided to take it upon himself to find a recipe, him being the one in the family who doesn’t know how to cook and literally just tosses meat in the oven, drizzles it with sauce, and waits while hoping the oven doesn’t blow up. That’s about the extent of his cooking.

So, here’s what he found: Link to Recipe Base

And well, we followed that recipe as closely as we could, and this is what we did based on the ingredients we could find and our limited pot sizes(Did not know that turkeys are this big and wasn’t prepared to make turkey…so our biggest pots were…not big enough to pull off the original recipe). We couldn’t find peppercorns and berries at the grocery store nearby, so we just improvised and use Pumpkin pie spice. .and how come we met a bunch of coworkers all shopping in that same grocery store for supplies at like 8-9pm at night? Guess some grocery stores can be hang outs/places to go “Oops…we need food for Thanksgiving”.

Ingredients:

  • 1o pound thawed turkey (instead of original recipe’s 14-16 pound)
  • Avocado oil (but any oil that can survive 500 F is good. The original recipe said canola is fine.)

Brine:

  • 1/2 cup salt (instead of original recipe’s 1 cup)
  • About 1/4 cup brown sugar(instead of original recipe’s 1/2 cup)
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (instead of original recipe’s 1 gallon)
  • About 5 or so shakings from a McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice(mix of cinnamon, ginger nutmeg, allspice)(instead of original recipe’s 1 TBSP black peppercorn, 1.5 TSP Allspice berries, 1.5TSP chopped candied ginger, and 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 2-3 quarts iced water (guestimating since we did it based on how much our container could hold)(instead of original recipe’s 1 gallon)

Stuff to put inside Turkey/Aromatics 

  • 1 sliced apple (we used Fuji, original says red)
  • 1/2 sliced onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 sprigs rosemary (instead of original recipe’s 4)
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Stuffing(optional)

Steps

Making Da Brine:

  • The night before roasting the turkey…. find a pot. Then add the veggie stock, brown sugar, salt, spice in the pot over medium heat. Stir and boil.  (We didn’t have a 5 gallon bucket. Our biggest container was a mixing bowl that would hold 2 gallons, but that couldn’t go on the stove…which is required…sooo we used a smaller pot and halved the ingredients from the original recipe.)
  • Let it cool and then refrigerate it.

Prepping the Turkey

  • Your turkey should be thawed already.  Remove all the inside stuff. Usually, if store bought, there is a white pouch which contain the innards and there may also be a neck in there. We tossed those out. The white pouch looked weird under the skin, but it was stuck by the hole where the neck would have been if the turkey neck wasn’t chopped.
  • Prep some iced water. We just ran some filtered water into our 2 gal mixing bowl and added ice. It was the biggest container we had.
  • Next, combine the brine and iced water(water with ice) in that mixing bowl/container. Rather, put the turkey into that container first and then add the brine, so you don’t overflow the container. We probably used less iced water because I dumped the ice out to get the turkey to the bottom.  Make sure to pour some of that brine inside the turkey cavity if you can’t submerge the whole turkey…we couldn’t get it to fit.

Turkey Brine

  • Push it down as far as you can and then put the whole thing in the fridge. The idea is for the salty brine to trick the turkey into absorbing more water, so the turkey won’t dry out while roasting in the oven. We put some plastic wrap so the turkey wouldn’t be exposed to air, and so the brine wouldn’t affect anything else. Be careful, this mixture is heavy…turkey plus liquid! Could be a good weights workout if it wasn’t so dangerous to drop! We put the turkey in the fridge at 11:30pm Wednesday night.

Turkey Brine in Fridge

  •  So, here’s where having a night owl comes in handy. After a couple hours, you’ll want to flip the turkey so you can soak the other side of the turkey if it’s not submerged or just try to make the brine even. My brother stayed up and flipped the turkey at around 3:30am in the morning and then tossed a big ketchup bottle on the turkey to weight it down, and then he passed out.
  • No one woke up early on Thanksgiving day. I just remember the turkey was ready to eat at 2pm.  Anyhow, next you want to dump all the brine out and rinse the turkey with cold water.
  • Put the rinsed turkey on your roasting rack in your pan! We used a V shaped rack, which helps to hold the bird in place. Dry the turkey with a paper towel.

Stuffing/aromatics

  • Parents didn’t know what they were doing and grabbed Kraft stove top stuffing because everyone else was grabbing it in the grocery store a couple days before. So…you could put stuffing into the turkey and stuff it from the butt side, not the neck cavity. I forgot and ended up wasting time trying to stuff the stuffing into the neck and yelling at my brother when it kept falling out. The stuffing mix that ended up on the bottom of the pan would burn in the oven later (and I would keep randomly tossing water ingo the pan while the turkey roasted because Kraft stuffing said it needed butter and water…and I failed to read the directions beforehand). Alternatively, just cook the stuffing separately and don’t stuff the turkey with it.
  • Next, slice your apple, onion. Then put the 1 cup water, apple, onion inside a microwave safe dish and microwave for 4 minutes. Then pour that into the turkey cavity.
  • Take the sage and rosemary and stuff it into the turkey cavity too.
  • Tuck the bird’s wings (or give up because this one bird wing wanted to defy all tucking and just stick up for itself…) and then coat everything with oil.

Raw BackRaw

Roasting

  • Preheat the oven to 500 F.
  • Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at a lower rack in the oven. We used the 3rd lowest rack because the oven thermometer was hanging under it. (Don’t accidentally change the temperature to 470 to save energy because making the aromatics took too long while arguing with brother and nearly dropping heavy turkey in brine.)
  • Then roast at 350 F for about 2 hours. Toss water into the pan randomly a few times if you put the stuffing in and realized it requires water.
  • Take the turkey out and cover lightly with aluminum foil for 15 minutes. My brother just cut a rectangle and shoved it only on the top of the turkey. I have a feeling you’re supposed to cover the pan sides too… but apparently it didn’t matter!
  • Voila! Then you are ready to serve!

Cooked

We had the turkey with Heinz Homestyle Beef Gravy and jellied cranberry sauce. We didn’t make gravy out of  the turkey grease because the stuffing already burned the bottom of the pan. The turkey skin was crispy, and if you want it crispier, then more oil and longer roasting probably works. The inside could get dry, but it wasn’t as dry as it could be (that’s good!). It was great with the gravy and sauce though!