Friday, November 28, 2008

Success on Second Try

I like to think that I am a good cook. As a general rule I only make turkey once a year and try to do it really well.

For the most part I succeed but not this year. I always made my turkey the same way, using the turkey-in-a-paper-bag method that I learned during one of the cooking classes that I took at a local school and it always comes out good.

This year I wanted to try a different method and wanted to try brining again. So after looking at many recipes I settled on Alton Brown's recipe. His calls for brining over night using aromatics (allspice berries, candied ginger) and then cooking at 500 degrees for half and hour finishing at 350 until it reaches 161 degrees.

Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! I am not sure which was the determing factor of where things went wrong. The smoke poured out of my oven while the bird was cooking at 500. I had to open windows to prevent the smoke detectors from heralding the swan song of burning food. My dog howls when they go off and it is hilarious! Sorry Bijou! I laugh hysterically when she does that because she is a very quiet dog and she really gets into it.

The turkey looked ok and after adjusting the temp I watched the thermometer to insure that the bird was not over done. Well, overdone would have been better than what I ended up with. Mind you that two thermometers said it was done, but after the over-the-right and through-the-woods to grandmother's house we go car ride with turkey in tow 60 minute car ride, I was not happy to find that while the breast meat "seemed" to be done it could have used a little more time and the dark meat was a little underdone (slight understatement). Anyway, we ate the breast meat which was slightly chewy. This may have been due to the cooking method or just not the best turkey. Who knows! The rest of that bird is destined for soup.

So to make amends for my failure I decided to try again today to make an awesome turkey. Success the second time!!! I bought a Bell & Evans 13 pounder and brined it for about 4 hours. It would be better brined longer but we were going to my sister's for another Thanksgiving dinner with turkey in tow so overnight was not an option. I made a mixture of butter, fresh thyme, garlic, salt and pepper and stuffed it under the skin. I coated the bird with canola oil and in the oven she went. It cooked it at 325 degrees until the thermometer read 162.

It was yummy and there was a lot more meat on this bird than the one I got from the turkey farm and they were basically the same weight!

So lesson learned! I will document what went right and no repeat my first attempt.

Here is a pic on the second attempt. My kids said the herbs under the skin looked like mold. Humorous family I have! They laughed when I said I wanted a picture and said they would have a funny story to tell at my eulogy some day when the picture collage had a picture of my turkey. HA HA HA, very funny Dorinda!

1 comment:

Geeta said...

Wow! I'm impressed just reading this. I'm so not a cook so reading about you doing it twice is AWESOME! Glad it worked out the 2nd time!