This has been my Thanksgiving plan for four years in a row, so I thought I'd rerun the tips. I have changed this slightly--in that I bought the brining bags at the store instead of using a pail (Farberware makes them and they were in the aisle with the roasters and kitchen twine, etc.). I have had success every time I use this recipe. Buying a fresh bird makes life ten times easier, but I have in a pinch defrosted a frozen bird and then brined it.
(and as an aside, for those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, on Monday I posted a link to my blog and a friend who is a professional chef shared his tips for brining, so check that out!)
Thanksgiving was a HUGE success in my house. Brining the bird was DA BOMB and I highly recommend it. I mean, HIGHLY recommend it. I have never had a juicier, more delicious turkey--it was beyond simple to cook, and twelve people devoured nearly an entire 21-pound bird. Lots of going back for seconds and thirds that day!
Take notes if you want for next year, because here's how I did it (and managed to have a LOT of relaxation time on the big day, too):
Wednesday Night: Brine the Bird (in the fridge by 8pm)
Equipment needed: 5-gallon pail from Lowe's or Home Depot
My version of Alton Brown's recipe for Brining from I'm Just Here for the Food
(which involves essentially cooking some water, brown sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and kosher salt, then cooling and adding to the bucket).
Plus: 3 gallons ice water and 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
7:00 a.m.: Remove bird from Brining Liquid
Dry bird, stuff with an onion, celery sticks. Brush whole bird with melted butter, then tent with foil, stick a meat thermometer in it, then put the bird in the oven.
8:00 a.m.: Cook sausage for stuffing, chop vegetables for stuffing (celery, carrots and onions), then cook when sausage is done. Add dried cranberries, leave to cool and set aside
8:15 a.m.: Peel 8 pounds of potatoes and start boiling them for mashed potatoes
8:45 a.m.: Start simple syrup for kids' Floating Island Punch
Put Frozen raspberries, pink lemonade and sugar in bowl to thaw for Poinsettia Punch for grownups :-)
9:30 a.m.: Mash potatoes and put in crock-pot--done till 11:15 a.m. (take a nap, read the ads for Black Friday shopping...I do all my house cleaning on Wednesday, so I'm chilling for these two hours)
11:30 a.m.: remove foil tent from turkey, baste with more butter and turn oven temp up to 425 degrees
Start green beans (I made a healthy version, which I can post later)
Start Citrus-Glazed Carrots
12:15 p.m.: Assemble stuffing
12:30 p.m.: Remove turkey from oven and let set
Put rolls in oven
Put stuffing in oven
1:00 p.m.: Serve and eat ;-)
My MIL made the pies, and I had baked cookies on Wednesday night, so all the rest was done ahead of time. I usually make the pies a day or two ahead of time, but this time someone else did them, so I was saved that chore. This turkey was SO SO good, though. I just can't even tell you ;-)
How was your Thanksgiving? Was it a huge success? I do dishes as I go, and run the dishwasher about halfway through so that everyone can eat on real plates. Clean-up is still a lot of work, but it's not AS bad as it could be.
And if you want to read about my Black Friday adventures, I posted on RTB today about them!