My partner and I got to have Thanksgiving, together, just the two of us, for the first time EVER. We were expecting some family to come down to visit us, and they did, but not on the actual holiday. So yes, everyone, we got to stay in OUR home and make a delicious meal.
I’ve cooked small turkeys and chickens before in the past, but never in our new oven. This oven has a bit of a temper. It’s hotter on the left side than the right, and since being installed it has settled a bit, with the back left corner being the lowest. A few problems from the get-go, but nothing major.
Several years ago, we brined and fast cooked a turkey ala Alton Brown and it was by far and away the most delicious turkey we had ever eaten! Then we had a deep fried turkey, which was good, but brining is truly the secret to tender, moist, and tasty white meat. I had reserved a turkey breast from a local vendor, but when I came to pick it up, I was told the price was doubled. I mean, I felt badenough that that turkey’s breast died for me, and then I didn’t even eat it. I’m sure someone somewhere ate it, and it was fucking delicious. I agreed on a price, damnit, and that price doubled. Praying on people who ordered a turkey and then at the last minute raise the price–I will not be had!
I had to then buy a murder turkey–ie, a turkey from the supermarket. It was delicious (miraculously…), but I imagine not nearly as good as the grain-fed, free range, southern Indiana turkey I could have had.
I got all the ingredients, prepared the brine (one of my own making, inspired by Mr. Brown himself), let it set for a couple days, threw in his recipe for aromatics, and let ‘er roast.
Somehow or another, when I saw it looking like this:
I declared it to be dinner time, and took it out of the oven. I got out my handy dandy electric slicer (I love America) and started to hack away at it. I say hack away at it because I have no idea how to properly slice a turkey, and I did not care, as I was starving. Chewing on the first slice (hence the big white spot on it–people I was this hungry, I couldn’t be bothered with pictures at this point), I sliced deeper into the turkey. To my horror, the juices running out were not “clear.”
We bought a digital thermometer, one of those cool ones that closes in the oven door and the display is on a little handheld device that you can stick on the fridge with a magnet. The temperature was indeed right–Alton Brown said:
“Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 151 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.”
Internal dialogue of Natalie: Alarm to 151 degrees, eh? Poultry is “safe” at 180 or so…. hm. That doesn’t seem right. Only 2.5 hours for a 16 lb turkey? This is suspect. But it’s Alton Brown, how could he be wrong?
Friends, he was wrong. The turkey was RAW in the center. Slightly undercooked is not a phrase I would use in this situation. True, a turkey has to be infected with salmonella first in order to make anyone sick (it’s a gamble really) but I don’t like my chicken or turkey raw. There is a reason the Japanese do not have chicken sushi. Raw poultry is disgusting and should never be eaten.
Obviously, I’m upset at this point, and have no clue what to do. In a stroke of brilliance, I made some homemade gravy (also a first, and a miracle it turned out), finished slicing the turkey, and put it in the roasting pan, with the gravy drippings. And poached the shit out of it.
It was the moistest, tastiest, most savory turkey ever. EVER. I saved Thanksgiving…. for me and Tyler. Here are some of the other things we ate for about a week, every meal, after the main event.