Posts from the ‘Cooking Techniques’ Category

Roast Turkey

Sorry it’s been a while since I continued my Thanksgiving recipe series. I have so many things that I want to share that I keep getting distracted. So here I go back to our holiday of last month. As with most major holidays, I have more recipes for you from my childhood. The turkey was so tasty, moist and delicious!

Before the bird was ready to roast, my dad marinated it in brine for two days in the refrigerator.

Thanksgiving Turkey 2011Basic Turkey Brine
enough brine for a 14 to 16 pound frozen turkey

Brine Ingredients
2 C Sea Salt
4 T Unsulphured Molasses
½ C Light Brown Sugar
2 Gal. Low or No Salt Vegetable Stock or Filtered Water
2 T Black Peppercorns
1 T Allspice Whole Berries
1 tsp Fresh Ginger, minced
2 Gal. Filtered Water, iced

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring it to a boil to meld the flavors together. Remove it from the heat, and let it cool to room temperature. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator.

Do this the day before or early on during the day of cooking: Combine the brine mixture with the ice water in a clean 5 gallon bucket. Place the turkey breast-side down in the brine. Chill the turkey to below 40 degrees F for 6 hours.

Notes: Three 49-ounce large cans of vegetable stock equal one gallon. A 15-pound turkey fits into a large stew pot.

My Parents carry on the tradition of using my Grandmother’s (my mom’s mom) Betty Crocker turkey recipe from either the 1940s or 1950s; my mother copied it down about a month before I was born. 🙂

Grandma Birdie’s Turkey
vary and depend on the size of the turkey, but recommended servings are about ½ to 1 pound of meat per person.
Make sure your oven heats properly by testing it with an oven thermometer. Only use thawed or unfrozen turkey; if your bird is frozen, completely thaw it. Never salt the outside. Do not be afraid to ask for help from friends and family, since they are eating, too. 😉

Dressing (Stuffing for the Turkey)
-1 Apple, cored, coarsely chopped
-1 Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, coarsely chopped
-1 – 2 Stalks Celery, coarsely chopped
-1 – 2 Medium Carrots, trimmed, coarsely chopped
-2 Red Potatoes, coarsely chopped or quartered
-Onion Powder
-Garlic Powder
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Sage & Savory Stuffing Seasoning
1 5-in Sprig Rosemary
Shortening, Butter or Margarine

1. With some help, wash the brine off and out of the turkey with cold running water over the sink. Drain the cavity.
2. Thoroughly dry the inside and outside of the bird with a dish towel. If necessary, have a helper tilt up and hold the bird as you liberally coat the cavity walls with coarse grain salt and fresh ground peppercorns.
3. Prepare the stuffing for the bird, not the accompanying side dish. Grandma Birdie usually made a corn stuffing with margarine, celery, carrots, parsley and other goodies to stuff her turkey. We mixed together the apple, onion, celery, carrots, red potatoes with the onion and garlic powders, oil and sage stuffing seasoning. Stuff the rosemary into the cavity.
4. With someone else standing up the turkey (or with it tilted upward in a large bowl), use your hands to fill the cavity with stuffing.* Do not use a spoon.
5. With your hands, loosely fill both ends of the bird’s cavity with stuffing, which will expand while roasting, so do not overfill the turkey.
6. Pull the neck skin down over the stuffing and pin it to the body with 3 metal poultry skewers. Turn and tilt the bird neck-down, and loosely stuff the other end. Tie the wings down securely under the bird like a package with food-grade cotton twine. Get help to tuck in and secure the legs together close to the body with more twine, as this may be challenging; if the legs came pre-bound, you do not need to rebind them with twine. If the tail is still attached, tie it to the legs.
7. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
8. Coat the outside of the dry turkey with shortening, butter or margarine. Season the outside liberally, if you like or use a flavor injector. Transfer the turkey breast-side up to the rack in a large roasting pan. Do not turn or baste.
9. Tightly cover the legs and lower back with a rectangular piece of aluminum foil.
10. Form a foil tent over the entire turkey, leaving an inch of space between it and the edge of the roasting pan. Lightly tuck the foil around the edges of the pan.
11. Insert a meat thermometer into the inner thigh near the breast, but do not push it in all the way to the bone. Do not rely on the commercial disposable pop-up thermometer pre-inserted into the turkey; ours fell out at some point. Roast the turkey for the recommended time determined by its weight, until the thermometer reads 180 degrees F and the juices run clear. Make sure to also check the internal temperature of the stuffing’s center with the meat thermometer; for food safety, it must read at least 165 degrees F.
12. To finish browning the turkey, remove the foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
13. When the turkey is done, transfer it from the oven to a carving surface or serving platter. Loosely cover the bird with foil, and let it cool for 10 minutes while you make the gravy.
14. Remove the foil and the cavity stuffing.
15. Carve the meat into slices (as best you can), setting the bones aside for making soup or broth later. Serve and enjoy with the gravy.

*You can either stuff the bird directly, or you can insert a clean food-grade cotton muslin drawstring bag into the cavity first and fill that. The bag will make emptying out the cavity after roasting the bird much easier, but it’s optional.

Spiral Apples

When I was little, one of my favorite places to visit with my folks was a great organic farm in the Central Valley, called Blooming Gales Apple Ranch, I think (it was a long while ago). They had all sorts of apple varieties that they grew on site. I loved to visit with and feed the horses and chickens. They had a very impressive shop inside an old barns, where they sold apples, nuts, pies, turn overs, juice, cider, apple chips, a myriad of apple themed items, and local produce. Their apple pies and turn overs were made from scratch with lots of love and care and were absolutely delicious. One year my mother, grandmother and I even went to one of their annual fall apple harvest fairs, which was lots of fun.

Theirs was the first unfiltered apple juice I had ever had, and for years we would visit just to buy it and maybe a pie or two. I’ve been hooked on unfiltered apple juice ever since. Thankfully I have found three local organic companies that make bottled unfiltered apple juice, one in Chico and two in Sebastopol (Nana Mae’s Organics and North Coast Apple Products), which I can get at some of the local organic markets in town. My husband also likes it, so unfiltered is the only kind of apple juice I buy now.

The neatest thing about buying Blooming Gales’ apples was if you wanted, the owners made apple springs right in front of you to snack on. They had a classic peel-core-and-slice spiral apple cutter that clamped down to their table. I loved watching the apples being peeled and cut and then playing with the springy apple coils. For sentimental reasons, amusement and general apple slicing, I’ve wanted a turn crank spiral apple slicer that attached to the kitchen counter. I had never really found one for a decent price until last month, when Anise and I were shopping around and looking at some local stores. Well, low and behold I found a great slicer that does everything I wanted for cheap! After a few tries we figured it out and must have peeled and sliced a whole pound of apples. It was so exciting, and I only nicked my fingers twice. Thank you Anise for all of your help! I had so much fun.

Last weekend was the annual Christmas party for one of the local children’s mentoring organizations at my husband’s masonic lodge, so my husband got out the apple slicer (he must have also cut up a pound or so) to practice earlier on in the week. He really seemed to enjoy himself. We discovered that firm apples are definitely needed for the slicer, otherwise only the corer works, leaving the apple turning literally to your hands instead of just using the crank shaft. The morning of the party my hubby cored and sliced two to three pounds of apples for the kids, who all had a tasty lunch and great fun. Success!


I love garlic!  I hate peeling garlic.  I usually buy the more expensive, already peeled garlic so I can just throw some in my food processor whenever I want.  THIS new trick is amazing to me.  It isn’t smashing it with a knife, I’ve done that, and its okay.

Wasn’t that amazing?  I can’t wait to drive 8 hours to get home from Orange County, run to the store, and buy garlic just so I can play with it!  (Though I’ll probably take a nap first, and I really should wait until I’ve used up all of the peeled garlic I just bought…)