Turkey Tips and Ideas

As many of our customers head home with a Blue Moon turkey, some ask about our favorite ways to prepare them.  There are many, many elaborate and sometimes conflicting ideas about the "best" way to prepare a turkey from well-regarded sources.  Most of us only cook a turkey once or twice a year, and at that rate of experimentation we won't arrive very quickly at our favorite method!  Some ideas are more fool-proof than others though, and I tend toward those as a fail-safe way to a delicious holiday meal.  They include brining, deconstruction, spatch-cocking, and of course--coupling them with fabulous vegetables from the farm! Growing up, my family always roasted a large turkey stuffed  with dressing.  Everyone loved the dressing, liked the dark meat, and tolerated the white meat, which was routinely overcooked.  Over the years, we've learned that culinarily, everything about that was wrong.  Stuffing a turkey is the first mistake, requiring you to grossly overcook the bird to achieve a cooked stuffing.  Newer trends suggest not even cooking the bird whole, as cutting it up can help to even out the cooking time for various parts.   Deconstructing the turkey (breaking it down as you would a chicken) helps even the novice cook not to overcook the turkey.  Cook's Illustrated offers a fantastic method for cooking a deconstructed turkey on a bed of stuffing--thus allowing that great turkey flavor to infuse the stuffing without actually stuffing it.  They also de-bone the thighs, which makes for dark meat that can be easily sliced (I didn't do that part). CLICK HERE to check it out (you'll have to register  with the site to see the full recipe). Want to break down the turkey but have it look more traditional on the table?  Consider spatchcocking the turkey--a method of removing to backbone in order to "spread it out" without cutting it apart.  It achieves the goal of even cooking without doing too much deconstruction.  We spatchcocked our turkey last year, and the 17-lb. bird took an hour and 15 minutes to cook!  We roasted it at a high temperature (425 degrees) and that gave us an incredibly crisp, browned skin.  View a great tutorial from Serious Eats HERE. Brining your turkey can infuse it with added flavor, and can also prevent it from drying out as it cooks.  Recipes for brines run the gamut, from warm flavors like cinnamon and clove to bold ones like cajun and chipotle.     Many brine recipes are heavy on the spices, which end up overpowering the turkey.  My current favorite is one we tried last year from The Pioneer Woman blog--it was great!  Here's the brine:
  • 3 cups Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
  • 2 gallons Cold Water
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Leaves
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-1/2 cup Kosher Salt
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
  • 5 whole Bay Leaves
  •  Peel Of Three Large Oranges
Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.  Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover.  Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.  When ready to roast turkey, remove turkey from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.  Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method. Cook's Illustrated is my go-to for many recipes, and so is Martha Stewart.  The recipes are rigorously tested in both cases, and so the results are much more reliable than a casual browse through a google search.  Check out the annual collection of Thanksgiving recipes and tips from www.marthastewart.com HERE.
As for those tasty vegetables to pair up with your turkey, here are some of our families new and old favorites.  Send me yours! Holiday Mashed Potatoes Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole Fresh Green Bean Casserole (I try to freeze beans every year for a Thanksgiving casserole!) Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onion No Knead Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls Creamed Kale and Spinach Shredded Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad with Apples, Gorgonzola and Candied Pecans
Wishing you all a warm, cozy, delicious holiday with family and lots of good food. Happy Thanksgiving!!  
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