Christmas Turkey (2006-12-26)

I wasn't gonna cook turkey this Christmas because 1) I already did last year, 2) didn't really want to have 64 leftover turkey meals.  However, after seeing Alton Brown brine and cook a turkey, and reading people rave about their turkey following his recipe,  my curiosity was piqued.  I'd attempted to make a "salted baked chicken" when I was in college where I buried a chicken with a mountain of salt and baked it.  I followed the recipe to the letter but the result was disastrous.  The chicken was so salty it had surpassed the state of being salty anymore.  The meat was supremely bitter

Although bitter chicken meat will haunt me forever,  I was quite intrigued by Alton Brown's method of brining a bird before roasting it.  He's a knowledgeable behind-the-kitchen scientist (or he has scientists to help him look nerdy smart in his show) and I tend to trust his cooking.  So what's a curious cook to do but to conduct my own experiment using his method?

I followed his recipe pretty closely except I used a rectangular bucket instead of a round one.  I also omitted all spice berries (hadn't got any) and substituted candied ginger with ginger root.  I don't think these minor alterations made a huge difference in the end result.  Well, the end result's not so good.  I flubbed the cooking.  I made the turkey suffer a second death in the oven.  I made turkey jerky!

I don't have a fancy thermometer like the one Alton Brown had which he just left the probe inside the bird the whole time and the attached temperature indicator was stuck on the door of the oven.  With this type, once the LCD reads 161F on the breast meat, you can remove the turkey from the oven.  There's no danger of overcooking it.  But my instant read thermometer is a low-tech one, I can't just leave it in the oven with the turkey.  Therefore I estimated the time needed to cook the bird and my estimation was WAY OFF.  When the turkey finally came out of the oven, the thermometer registered 200F in the thigh, a full 20 degrees over the recommended temperature!  I didn't just kill every possible germy microbe in the bird, I also killed the last drop of moistness in the meat.  Ah well, at least we were at no time in danger of getting food poisoning, hahaha.

Although the turkey's dry, the juice collected in the pan was incredibly tasty which helped to flavor and moisten the meat tremendously.  After we couldn't possibly stuff anymore food in our stomachs, the leftover turkey meat went straight to the freezer, all fourteen servings of it.  Now I'll just need to find seven recipes to use up the turkey.  I'll report on them if I don't die of turkey coma first.

You can click on the photo if you want to see how I roasted the turkey beyond death.  I never found out if brining the turkey results in moister meat because my over roasting the bird negates the benefit the brining process is supposed to have.  However I do know that brining the bird will NOT result in bitter meat. 

Will I cook a turkey again next year?  I dunno.  It's hard to think of cooking turkey right now when I am so turkeyed out.

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