Friday, November 28, 2008

The best turkey in the world

For the past several years, I've gone to great trouble (and Noel has gone to great expense) to brine my turkey, the Alton Brown way.

What kind of trouble? You have to defrost the turkey a day early. (For me, this usually means half a day spent changing the water every half hour while speed-defrosting.) You have to buy vegetable stock in such quantities that the price rivals the turkey itself. You have to soften brown sugar. (At least I have to, because I use brown sugar about twice a year; put a bowl of water in the microwave beside it and nuke for 2 minutes or so.) You have to numb your hands chucking a half-gallon of ice into a bucket. You have to get up in the middle of the night to turn the turkey over in the brine.

But I would never consider making a turkey without the brine treatment. A brined turkey is moist, juicy, and tasty all the way through. It's absolutely foolproof.

I also use the Alton Brown trick of putting the bird in at 500 degrees for half an hour to get a beautiful golden brown skin on the top, then turning the oven down to 350 and putting an aluminum foil shield over the breast to keep it from overcooking. Throw in an electronic probe thermometer that beeps when the turkey reaches the target temperature, and there is nothing that can ruin your meal except lumpy gravy.

And once again this year, our turkey was perfect inside and out. If you've never brined, you don't know what you're missing. Ditch the hit-and-miss recipes, go for the bucket and the kosher salt, and never serve dry turkey again.

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