Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Day Madness (Yummy Recipes)

I think I hinted, a couple days ago, that I might post my Thanksgiving Day Culinary Adventures here.

This time I figured I'd skip the Play-By-Play and just wait til the damn thing was done (and confirmed "Delicious") before I posted the recipes.

I did kinda half-heartedly snap a few pictures (with the Crappy Droid Cam). Not sure if they're worth posting. If I decide to do so, they'll be in a separate post.

Look, I'm not touting myself as a "Foodie-Blogger" or anything. This is just my place to yammer about whatever, right?

In fact, right now I am in the Tiki Shack o' Perpetual Summer (Thank Gawd I've got a space-heater out here!), enjoying a margarita ("En las rocas, con sal!"), covered - head-to-toe - in white clay dust (Why-oh-why do I wear dark clothes out here??!!). I just finished making a couple of wine-glass-holder/snack trays, a handful of Chile Pepper holiday ornaments, and am contemplating glazing the rest of my Hurricane Cocktail holiday ornaments (so I can run another glaze firing this weekend)...

And, I figured I'd take a few minutes to schmear some white clay dust on my Netbook and post the "Successful" recipes from yesterday's feast...

Hell, I have absolutely NO business being a Foodie Blogger - given the sheer quantity of weight I *need* to lose! And, being diabetic, after spending just over a week in the Land o' Carbohydates (Mexico), and returning to the START of "Stuff Yourself Silly Season." Good Lord!!!

Okay, okay... Back on track here!

Da Boyd: I bought a Fresh, Organic, Range-Raised, Zen Buddhist, Birkenstock-Wearing, Granola-Eating, Tree-Hugging, Turkey Breast for a princely sum. Since it was minimally-processed, I figured I'd better brine it so I used Pioneer Woman's Recipe for brine here.

I am absolutely not claiming this recipe as my own, but I did make some minor adjustments. First, I halved the quantity of ingredients since, I suspect, her recipe would handle a 20# bird and ours was just a 9# breast... And I did some other "tweaks" as I went along... Nevertheless, this is definitely Pioneer Woman's Creation! (No plagiarism or copyright infringement here!!! No Sirree Bob!!!)

So anywaaaaay,,, the afternoon before Thanksgiving, I brewed up the brine, following Pioneer Woman's most-awesome recipe *almost* to the letter.

When I threw everything into the pot, I realized (once again!) that I didn't select a large enough pot for ALL of the ingredients, so I simmered everything with just 1 quart of water (figuring I'd add the remaining 3 quarts when I stuffed everything into the brining bag). I also added a handful of fresh sage to the brew - simply because my sage plant was begging to be pinched back (I'd say it was probably about a Tablespoon of fresh sage).

Pioneer Woman's Turkey Brine
Ingredients (modified for my 9# breast and "reduced sugar" mandate)
  • 1.5 C Apple Cider
  • 1 Quart of Water
  • 2 Tbs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Sage
  • 3 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 3/4 C Sea Salt
  • 1/2 C Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (as opposed to equiv 1 C Brown Sugar in the orig. recipe)
  • 1-1/2 Tbs Whole Peppercorns
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • Zest from 2 Oranges
Combine everything in a medium-ish pot. Stir until the sugar/salt are dissolved. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and cover. Let it cool.

Here's where I started to get creative. Let me tell you, this brine smells positively HEAVENLY and I thought "Gee, that might be a good 'base' for my injection marinade!"

So I reserved half-a-cup of the "condensed" brine and stuck it in a jar in the fridge.

Then, once everything was cooled, I poured the brine into a 2 gallon ziplock baggie (in my largest pot), then added 3 quarts of water and stirred it up well. Then I plunked (more like wrestled!) the turkey breast into the brine, sealed the bag and crammed it into the fridge to soak for 24 hours (or thereabouts - might've only been 18 hours - whatEVAH!).

Thanksgiving Morning, I kinda wrestled/rolled the turkey around, a bit, in the brine bag - since the "top" wasn't getting *as* brined as the rest of the bird. Then I started prepping other stuff...

I spent a fair amount of time working on a modified Coconut-Yam/Sweet Potato/Whatever-Casserole. It "sounded" really interesting. And it was. "Interesting." But not in a good way (not BAD, mind you. Nobody got rushed to the hospital for severe gastritis or anything), but it just wasn't good enough to share.

I think I've decided that we just aren't "Yam People." Last year, I baked the yams (in their skin) and served them like potatoes - only with butter and brown sugar. Those were actually pretty good but DH didn't seem impressed. I tend to "shun" traditional candied yams with mini-marshmallows (I was traumatized, as a child, when the mini-marshmallows caught fire under the broiler in my mom's oven many-many-many-many-many years ago!).

Okay... Next up: The injectable marinade... I nearly swooned over the aroma while the brine was simmering, and I snuck a taste of it. Dayum good (albeit - quite salty!). Originally I was gonna go with a pre-made mild Cajun-Butter Injection Marinade (I've used it in the past, and it is quite tasty), but I decided I wanted to stick with the more "citrussy" end of the spectrum. Along with butter (Hell YES we gotta have BUTTER!). So here goes:

QT's Citrus-Herb-Butter Turkey Injection Marinade
(Okay, I *am* gonna take credit for this one!)
  • 1/2 C PW's "condensed" Turkey Brine (recipe above)
  • 1/2 C Chicken Broth (I think I'd go with un-salted*, or at least "Low Sodium")
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) Melted Butter (again, un-salted* would be preferred!)
  • 3 TBS Lemon Juice (I squoze a fresh lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder ("Perish the Thought!" but it had to fit through the syringe!)
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Finely Ground Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage
  • 1 Tbs Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
*I ended up having to add about 1-2 add'l Tablespoons of White Sugar (:::GASP!:::). Unfortunately, I did not have un-salted or low-sodium butter or chicken broth and the marinade came out a little *too* salty. The sugar took care of it, but you'll definitely want to taste the marinade before you call it "done!"

Anyway, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan, then add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well-blended.

And as it was cooking, I again, noted how WONDERFUL it smelled and I thought "Gee, this might also work well as part of the 'base' for my Stuffing!" So, after it was done, but before injecting the bird, I reserved about half-a-cup of the marinade to incorporate into the dressing!

But I digress (yet AGAIN!!!) You pretty-much want to inject the bird about an hour (or so) before cooking, so the marinade has a chance to soak in throughout the bird.

And - since there's an awful lot of butter in the marinade - well, you need to time things appropriately because if the marinade cools too much, the butter wants to separate, then solidify!

So - about an hour before cooking, I removed the turkey from the brine, then soaked it in a sink full of clear water to get the excess salt off. Then I had to re-heat the brine - just nuke it for a few seconds in a narrow-deep container (tall coffee cup). Then inject the hell out of the breast.

I try to avoid poking too many holes in the bird (since "where it goes in" is also "where it can ooze out!"). So I load up the syringe, poke a hole in the bird, go deep and inject (pulling back as I depress the plunger so the marinade gets distributed throughout). I don't pull the syringe out completely (or if I do, I try to re-use the same hole), then inject a different section of the breast, utilizing the same pull-back/inject technique. I try to hit 3 different "sections" with each hole.

I think I ended up with only 8 holes in the bird (4 along the "top" centerline of each side of the breast). It's tough to explain, verbally. If you've never done an injection marinade, Google-it, there are tons of instructional videos out there (and it really is an awesome way to prepare a bird!).

Then let the breast "rest" in a roasting pan for about an hour before cooking.

For roasting, I used my "Big Easy" propane oil-less turkey fryer. Love-Love-Love it because it frees-up the kitchen and you can (mostly) "Set it and Forget it" (other than checking the temperature, periodically, 'cuz our "Remote Sensor" doesn't work through the window-glass for some odd reason) (and it was raining outside and I didn't want to stand out there all friggin' day!!!).

I have NO idea how long it took, but I wanna say it was roughly 2 hours to get up to 165* internal temp (in the middle of the breast). Once we got there, I removed the bird, stuck it in a disposable foil roasting pan, covered it with foil, then wrapped it in a towel (in the house) to "rest" and finish cooking...

Next up: Stuffing (The VERY BEST part of Thanksgiving, I think!)

Unfortunately, I didn't keep super-close track of what all I did, but I'll recount the general jist of it:

I freely admit that am a TOTAL cheater: I started out with two boxes of Stove Top Turkey-Flavored Stuffing. BUTTTT... I amped it up, okay??? (and GAWD was it good!!!)

First, I heated up my reserved marinade in a smallish saucepan. Boiled it and let it simmer for a few (maybe 5 minutes), then poured it into my big pot.

Added 1-1/4 Cups of Apple Cider and 1-1/4 Cups of Chicken Broth, and a stick of butter (Yeah!!), and heated it up. Then I dumped in the two packages of Stove-Top Stuffing Mix. Followed the package directions for the stove-top method of stuffing-making (which I have, since, forgotten, but it's a No-Brainer) (although - BTW - I omitted the water b/c I was using apple-cider+brine+chicken broth).

Then, in the smallish saucepan, I browned a 12 oz package of fresh Maple Breakfast Sausage (Flavored with REAL Maple Syrup). Once it was brown, I tossed in some chopped red onion (1 medium onion) and chopped celery (2-3 stalks). Swished em around - on medium heat - in the sausage grease 'til tender. When that was done, I transferred everything (grease and all - Arteries be damned!!!) to the Stove-Top Stuffing Pot.

Then I added a couple handfuls of Craisins and a couple handfuls of chopped Pecans (maybe 1/2 cup of each? No clue how big my handfuls are!). Stir it all up and transfer it to an 8x8 cake pan and toss it in the oven @ 350* about 20-30 minutes before dinner so it gets crispy and brown on the top (actually, it made WAAAAAY more than an 8x8 cake pan could accommodate, but I tossed the excess into a storage container and just stuck it in the fridge for later noshing!).

This dressing was THE BOMB!!! (I'd never made Sausage Stuffing before. Now "I'm a believer!!!")

Last up was the Gulliver's Creamed Corn - which is almost embarrassingly easy to make, yet indescribably delicious. I didn't change a thing in that recipe.

Other Stuff: Rolls from a Tube (Courtesy of Pillsbury!); Mashed potatoes (No Brainer) and Pumpkin Pie ("Like, duh!") - although I cheated and bought a pie from the Snob Hill Bakery...

Truth be told: We were both so stuffed from dinner, we didn't have room for dessert!

It really was a wonderful Thanksgiving Meal (and we've got leftovers up the gazoobie!)

Oh, and the Million Dollar Turkey Breast? It was *quite* delicious. It had a much "firmer" texture than the overly-processed turkeys I've made in the past (in fact, I was nervous that it wasn't quite "done" when I pulled it out of the cooker). But it was most definitely moist and utterly delectable! Yes, I'd probably do another Free-Range, Organic Turkey again...

Happy "Black Friday" to one and all (and NO! I did *not* participate in ANY of that Madness!!!)

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