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deangold
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I've been assigned the Thanksgiving cooking duties for my family this year.  Anyone have general tips on purchasing a turkey from the likes of Giant or Magruder (e.g., which brands are best, when to buy)?

In my love hate realtionship with my former employers (I love that they gave me enough stock to create a restaurant off the proceeds, I hate the mediocrity that dominates their stores and product selection etc), I must say that a WFM Turkey is worth every dollar it costs, jsut as a free bird from Giant is over priced! The WFM bird is lean without any chemicals or additives. It cook in about 10 miutes a pound to a mouthwatering perfection. The gravy will taste of gravy and not of the salt brine all too many birds are soaked in before bing frozen months before the big day.

DO not follow the WFM instructions--- start the bird breast down for 20 minutes at 425 on a rack. Flip the bird breast up and roast for another 30 minutes. Turn the over down to 325 and roast until your bird has cooked a total of 10 minutes to the pound. Test for doneness in the thigh with an instant read thermomiter. If its 140 its done to medium. If you are a germ freak, take the thigh to 150, but you will have burnt thighs and dry breasts... not a pretty sight!

Let the bird rest for 20-30 minutes while you make the gravy. Pour the drippings into a large bowl. Deglaze te pan with water, red wine, bourbon, armagnac, cognac, etc. Scrape every bit of dripping and crusty parts into the bowl. Thhey are flavorful and necessary to a good gravy. Defat as you see fit.

Make a roux of flour and butter and strain the hot drippings into the roux, stirring till smooth. Simmer 20 minutes. You can strain now. You can also add a load of sauteed mushrooms and or giblets as well. I usually take the neck and make a stock the night before and add that too. By the way, you can add herbs to the gravy but I rub my bird with loads of herbs, garlic and olive oil before roasting it. I rum the mix inside and out and under the skin. This flavors the resultant dripping well enough for a tasty gravy. I just adust with S&P.

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Deglaze te pan with water, red wine, bourbon, armagnac, cognac, etc. 

You mean to choose one of these, not all of them, right? :lol: I can only imagine...

Then again, one branch of my family is particularly well-known for adding alcohol to every single dish at the Thanksgiving table (Grand Marnier in the cranberry sauce, sherry in the sweet potatoes, etc.) so maybe this is just the logical next step.

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In my love hate realtionship with my former employers (I love that they gave me enough stock to create a restaurant off the proceeds, I hate the mediocrity that dominates their stores and product selection etc), I must say that a WFM Turkey is worth every dollar it costs, jsut as a free bird from Giant is over priced!  The WFM bird is lean without any chemicals or additives.  It cook in about 10 miutes a pound to a mouthwatering perfection.  The gravy will taste of gravy and not of the salt brine all too many birds are soaked in before bing frozen months before the big day. 

DO not follow the WFM instructions--- start the bird breast down for 20 minutes at 425 on a rack.  Flip the bird breast up and roast for another 30 minutes.  Turn the over down to 325 and roast until your bird has cooked a total of 10 minutes to the pound.  Test for doneness in the thigh with an instant read thermomiter.  If its 140 its done to medium.  If you are a germ freak, take the thigh to 150, but you will have burnt thighs and dry breasts... not a pretty sight! 

Let the bird rest for 20-30 minutes while you make the gravy.  Pour the drippings into a large bowl.  Deglaze te pan with water, red wine, bourbon, armagnac, cognac, etc.  Scrape every bit of dripping and crusty parts into the bowl.  Thhey are flavorful and necessary to a good gravy.  Defat as you see fit. 

Make a roux of flour and butter and strain the hot drippings into the roux, stirring till smooth.  Simmer 20 minutes.  You can strain now.  You can also add a load of sauteed mushrooms and or giblets as well.  I usually take the neck and make a stock the night before and add that too.  By the way, you can add herbs to the gravy but I rub my bird with loads of herbs, garlic and olive oil before roasting it.  I rum the mix inside and out and under the skin.  This flavors the resultant dripping well enough for a tasty gravy.  I just adust with S&P.

Honest to goodness Dean, I'm going to print out your instuctions and put them to good use on Turkey day. I'm never completely thilled with the birds I roast. But your description has my mouth watering. Thanks for sharing your secrets.
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Honest to goodness Dean, I'm going to print out your instuctions and put them to good use on Turkey day.  I'm never completely thilled with the birds I roast.  But your description has my mouth watering.  Thanks for sharing your secrets.

Did I mention the $500 per printing fee for downloading the recipe? :lol:

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For about the second or third time in my 3 decades of adulthood, I'm cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. More specifically, a pasture-raised turkey from an organic farmer. It's not a Heritage bird, AFAIK--the photos I saw were of white turkeys. They've been raised on pasture with mobile hoop houses, in the company of chickens (my farmer employed the "buddy system" hoping the chickens would teach the turkeys how not to self-destruct).

Last year I had a lot of success with an organic bird from Whole Foods (thanks for the instructions, Dean).

Is there anything I need to do differently for this pastured bird?

It will be fresh, not frozen, delivered on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, probably processed a few days earlier.

I'm very excited about this turkey. The chickens and other products I've gotten from this farmer have been outstanding. Unfortunately, it is a private buying club which is at capacity now, so I can't refer other Rockwellians to this source at this time. Sorry!

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Brine (if non-injected).

Roast the bird upside-down.

Honestly, I give up perfect brown breast skin and roast it upside-down the whole way (there's more skin on the other side anyway, and every time I try to flip it to finish the other side, the breast meat dries out. If you have a convection setting, I suppose you could flip the bird and then turn on convection to get faster browning, but I've never tried it).

The legs will actually get to safe-to-eat temperature before the breast, but that's good...the more the legs cook (obviously to a point), the more collagen and other connective tissue will melt, making the dark meat more succulent.

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For about the second or third time in my 3 decades of adulthood, I'm cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. More specifically, a pasture-raised turkey from an organic farmer. It's not a Heritage bird, AFAIK--the photos I saw were of white turkeys. They've been raised on pasture with mobile hoop houses, in the company of chickens (my farmer employed the "buddy system" hoping the chickens would teach the turkeys how not to self-destruct).
Scottee - I'm attaching a file that was given out by Smith Meadows Farms to go with their turkeys last year. I have actually used the brining recipe before (it's Kim O'Donnell's variation on Alice Waters' recipe). It worked really well and was very easy. I'm pretty sure the bird I got from Smith Meadows would have been very similar to what you're getting - you're in for a treat!

Last year I think I went with the basic roast turkey recipe in the attachment and it turned out great. I also made a wild rice and sausage dressing that went really well with it - can't find the recipe but will post it if I do. Good luck and good eating :blink:

Turkey_20Recipes_1_.pdf

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A trick that I've used for many years really works to keep the breast meat from over cooking while the thighs get done. When I am bringing the bird up to room temp prior to cooking, I put ice packs on the breast. That way the breast meat is much colder than the rest of the bird, when it goes into the oven, and takes longer to cook.

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Another thing is, that the white meat may have the barest of pink tinges and still be done (i.e. over 150 degrees--bacteria are killed at 141). Depends on the bird.

Is there a consensus on when when I should remove the turkey from the oven? I've heard everything from 140 degrees to 170 degrees. I have 14 lb. bird, and I am not sure how much carry-over heat to account for.

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The dark meat benefits from some additional cooking, because of the excess of collagen and connective tissue. OTOH, the white meat just gets drier the longer you cook it. So ideally you want the dark meat at 165 or so (with some upward leeway) and the white meat at 150 or so. I achieve this by giving up bronzed breast skin and roasting upside-down the whole time. Others have other methods that also work.

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this may be a silly question (or maybe one that was answered elsewhere but i haven't had the time to look...:blink: ), but if i am brining the turkey, how much faster will it cook than if i hadn't brined the turkey? i'm cooking an 18 lb turkey (using saveur's cider/apple scented recipe from the november issue - the recipe is for a 10-12 lb turkey) and i'm trying to figure out when i should put it in the oven for it to be ready to eat at 5pm. i was thinking if i put it in at noon, then it should be done by 4, which gives me time to rest it and carve it. am i way off here? any tips appreciated.

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this may be a silly question (or maybe one that was answered elsewhere but i haven't had the time to look...:blink: ), but if i am brining the turkey, how much faster will it cook than if i hadn't brined the turkey? i'm cooking an 18 lb turkey (using saveur's cider/apple scented recipe from the november issue - the recipe is for a 10-12 lb turkey) and i'm trying to figure out when i should put it in the oven for it to be ready to eat at 5pm. i was thinking if i put it in at noon, then it should be done by 4, which gives me time to rest it and carve it. am i way off here? any tips appreciated.

Brining won't change the cooking time. The major variables are the oven temperature, the size of the turkey, whether it is stuffed or unstuffed, and whether the turkey is at room temperature when it is put into the oven, or whether it is refrigerator temperature--a room temp, unstuffed bird takes a lot less time than a cold stuffed one, whatever your oven temperature is.

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Here's one for the peanut gallery: How low-and-slow do you dare?

I don't particularly care for smoked turkey (and an experiment I'm doing this year on my for-wife-and-me-only turkey precludes smoking as an option), but I was thinking of doing the bird the whole way at 225degF, and count on my buddy M. Maillard for a bit of brown.

Timing is not an issue, as it's just the two of us and we'll be painting that day (so the leeway is nice to have).

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Totally unrelated question.

I think I'm going to skip brining, because now I'm reading stuff that says you should neither stuff the bird nor use the drippings for gravy if you brine, and I want the freedom to do both. So I'll probably go with a compound butter this year, herbed and whatnot.

However, I thought it might be interesting to put something else under the skin instead. Like chopped bacon, or truffle paste. And if I do, would it make sense to do it ahead of time (the turkey is fresh, not frozen) to hope that the flavors seep further in? If I do truffle paste I'll combine it with butter, but bacon would obviously stand on its own.

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Jael has a good point--if you brine, your drippings will be too salty for gravy. You can remedy this by making a bit of turkey stock (most supermarkets sell necks and wings this time of year), rendering a bit of the turkey fat (for the roux) from the wings before tossing them in. A little bit of the roasted fat and dripping can still be used for seasoning.

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I think if you rinse the turkey real well before putting it in you shouldn't have a problem with the drippings being too salty. The last few years I have made kind of a base with roux and chicken/turkey stock. Then I deglaze the roasting pan with white wine and add it to the base. It has always turned out real nice.

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I think if you rinse the turkey real well before putting it in you shouldn't have a problem with the drippings being too salty.
I second this. In the 10 (?!?) years I've been brining the Thanksgiving bird (with a traditional wet brine, not a dry "brine"), I've never had the dripping-based gravy turn out too salty. I use unsalted (or low-salt) stock and don't add anymore salt until I've tasted it (but I do always end up adding salt to the finished gravy).

I don't know about the effect on the stuffing. I gave up stuffing the bird at the same time I took up brining because it was also the start of our grilling-the-turkey tradition.

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I've got the day's first 911!!

I have two 10 pound heritage birds sitting in the fridge. I dry-brined them Tuesday evening with salt, pepper, and sage--basically following what I do with Zuni chicken--and they've been air-drying since last night.

At 6 this morning, I woke up to the realization that I'd forgotten about cooking the damn things.

I have one oven. I don't need to cook anything else in the oven. I think my options are:

a) side by side in one roasting pan (they fit, though there isn't much space between them), or

B) butterflied and roasted on two shelves.

Side by side is the easier option, because I've got 26 people coming to dinner at 7:30 tonight, but would that work? I think I'd bring them up to room temperature with an icepack on the breasts, then plop them into a heated cast iron, one by one, for 5-8 minutes, to give the bottoms a head start, and then put them in the heated roasting pan (or use the flat roasting rack?) and roast at some oven temperature that I haven't figured out, rotating them a couple of times to even out exposure.

Butterflying the birds would allow more air circulation, but I have unpleasant memories of cutting through a turkey's backbone from an unfortunate deboning experience last year...should I suck it up, gulp the wine, and go for that instead?

(happy thanksgiving madness everyone!)

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My vote is also for option A. And if it looks like they are not cooking evenly, you can spin each bird 180 degrees around in the pan about midway through roasting.

Happy Thanksgiving!

That's something one should do even if you're cooking only one bird. So with 2, I'd not only give 'em a spin, I'd switch sides as well.

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if I go with option (a), any guesses on how much extra cooking time I should build in?
My gut feeling is that won't take much additional time, if any. (And my in-house mechanical engineer concurs.) However, I have no real-world experience with this particular situation, so you'll probably want to take my opinion with a grain of leftover-from-brining salt.

Hopefully another DR.com member will have a more definitive answer for you. :blink:

Time to make the apple pie!

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Lesson 1: Brining a turkey with a brine based on turkey stock is overkill--the brine is ineffective due to the gelatin in the stock.

Lesson 2: Roasting pans with those big high handles are useless in an under-heighted oven.

Lesson 3: Champagne (Thierry Triolet NV "Grande Reserve") rocks with T-giving dinner.

Lesson 4: I'm very, very thankful.

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Northern Iraq has Turkey anxiety.

Happy Tanks giving,

DonRocks,

Age 7.

Rundown:

Soter Rose from magnum

99 Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Maltoye from magnum

99 Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Blanchots-Dessus from magnum

99 Littorai Charles Heinz

99 Littorai Thieriot

04 Clape Cornas from magnum

02 Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella (defective!)

01 Dal Forno Romano Valpolicella

70 Ducru-Beaucaillou

01 Cerbaiona Brunello di Montalcino

00 Coulee de Serrant (2nd bottle slightly better than 1st)

Stuffing, me.

Eep.

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Thanks everyone!! At the last minute, a neighbor offered me her oven, so I wound up cooking the birds separately. The overcooked bird went into the trash; the perfectly-cooked bird was carved into tiny bits and tasted fantastic, like a free-range chicken only with more flavor, oddly enough.

Hope everyone had a good thanksgiving, and that everyone is fully recovered.

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Wegmans was having a terrific sale on their turkeys earlier this week, and was able to grab a frozen twenty pound bird for $4.60.

The beauty is currently living in my garage freezer, however, I am looking forward to a successful roasted turkey.

I assume that some of the directions are written on the packaging, and assume that defrosting my frozen bird will take a few days. Should I brine the bird, and if so, other than water and salt what other ingredients should I include? Twelve or twenty four hours?

Do I preheat the oven, or place the bird in the oven and set the temperature? For best results, do you start at a high of say 450, and then reduce the temperature two or three hours into the process?

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I'll do a test this weekend- I have a small weber gas grill with 2 burner options- front and/or back-

So indirect heat is out- I found an online recipe - might have been on Weber site- that suggests turning both burners to med/ low and check to maintain about 300 degrees- a bit concerned about constant heat.

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