A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Traditional Turkey Dinner for Christmas

Since we did not have turkey for Thanksgiving, I decided to have the Thanksgiving dinner at Christmas with all the trimmings and traditional family dishes that accompany it.  I always brine my turkey.  Brining a turkey (or any other poultry) results in a perfectly-seasoned, uniformly-juicy bird.  The brine penetrates poultry rapidly and completely, bringing whatever flavors you've added to the brine (onion, garlic, herbs...).  The basic recipe for a brine is 1/2 to 1 cup of salt and 0-1 cup of sugar per each gallon of water.  It takes about 2 gallons to fully immerse a turkey.  The second gallon of water can be substituted, all or in part, with veggie broths, wine, orange juice...   I will include my brining and cooking instructions, along with my favorite stuffing recipe, below.

Everything on our menu comes from local farms and markets. The Holiday meals are often the first time I open my summer-canned pickles, veggies, pie-fillings and chutneys.  My buns and pies are made from scratch, and loaf-ends of homemade bread have been collected in the freezer for stuffing.  We are so blessed by the availability of this food (and so well-fed).
Some of my "groceries"
(Couldn't fit the rest in the pic!)

Turkey Brine (12-16 pound turkey)
1 gallon ice water
1 quart white wine
3 quarts of veggie broth
  (make your own by adding lots of carrot, celery, onion to 3 quarts of
     water and let it simmer a few hours)
bunch of herbs (I use Italian seasoning or oregano, dill weed, parsley)
1-1/2 cups salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
Heat all but the ice water in large pot, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved.  Remove from stove, add ice water to cool.  Wash turkey and remove giblets, etc. from the cavity.  Immerse bird in the brine and, if necessary, weigh down to be sure entire bird stays immersed.  Brine for 8-24 hours (I usually do night before and brine overnight).  Remove bird from brine, but do not rinse off.

Note:  If you wish to save and freeze the brine for re-use, put the pot of brine on the stove and boil for at least 10 minutes.  Strain, cool, freeze.

If you are stuffing the bird, do so now.  Lightly stuff cavity with stuffing.    Do not overstuff bird.  Any leftover stuffing can be put in a casserole and baked for 40-60 min at 350.

To roast bird:  Pat bird dry and using oil or butter, grease bird all over, being sure to get nooks and crannies.  Put bird breast-side up in a roasting
pan or roaster.  Turn oven or roaster to 450 or 500 (or highest setting on roaster).  Let cook for 30 minutes, then turn down heat to 325 and roast until thermometer in breast reads 155.  Set bird out to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

8 cups bread cubes
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
giblets from turkey, chopped
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon Italian Herbs
pinch fennel seed
pinch dill weed
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
3/4-1 cup giblet or chicken broth
--Combine all.  Stuffing will become moister as bird roasts and it absorbes juices.

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