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Who Is Cooking For The Holidays? Whatchya Cooking?

Discussion in 'Community Center' started by Eli Chaps, Nov 10, 2020.

  1. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    For Thanksgiving (USA) turkey duty has fallen on me for the past several years.

    I've tried all sorts of things from the "traditional" ways to upside down to deep frying, heck I actually fully de-boned the turkey and made a roll two years in a row. Yes, that is a LOT of work. :rolleyes:

    Where I've finally settled in is breaking the bird down and dry brining.

    I butcher the bird basically into drumsticks, thighs, and boneless breasts. Those get dried thoroughly with paper towels and then generously sprinkled with a salt/brown sugar/(light) dried sage mix and placed on racks in sheets pans. Depending how well the thawing has gone this will be for 24-48hrs.

    If possible, on the same day I do that, I roast up the carcass and wing tips with carrots, celery, and onions and then make a stock. Ready for gravy.

    All the heavy lifting is done a day or two in advance.

    The day of I roast the turkey pieces, adding the breasts in after the other parts have been going a while and then make the gravy with my turkey stock.

    This method frees up a lot of oven room, produces juicy flavorful meat with crispy skin, allows you to pull pieces individually depending on doneness, allows for a great gravy, and simplifies carving.

    The past few years we've been going to my mother in law's house and this also makes transporting the bird super easy.

    After many, many years of varying degrees of success this is the method I'm fully committed to.

    Besides, it let's you use a sharp knife to get things done. :)
     
  2. The Amazing Virginian

    The Amazing Virginian Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 24, 2010
    What you described seems near optimal from the actual eating perspective. Really well thought out. I did something similar several years ago and it was the only time the dark meat and the white meat both came out perfect.

    But people still LOVE that big reveal presentation when that beautiful golden brown whole turkey comes out of the oven (with its overcooked white meat or undercooked (yuck!) dark meat) - and then watching you carve slices right from the bird. For some it's the highlight of Thanksgiving. And they aren't going to get that experience with what you describe.

    Recognizing that . . . and having tried all the various things you describe (deep frying worked out best for me), I gave up on turkey a few years ago and switched to ham. Easy to prepare, and always comes out perfectly cooked and delicious. I know a lot of folks save ham for Christmas, but I fixed that, too - Lasagna for Christmas!

    So that's what we do here now.

    Ham, with biscuits. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Sauteed french green beans. Sweet potato casserole. Homemade pecan pie for dessert. It's a lot of food, but if you can't overcook and overeat on Thanksgiving, when can you?
     
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  3. neo71665

    neo71665

    178
    Feb 18, 2020
    I'm in charge of smoking a pork butt for pulled pork. If this weekend goes well there will be deer somewhere also. Mom normally overcooks a glazed ham in the oven. We don't do turkey around here.
     
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  4. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    The first year I did the de-boned and rolled turkey, there was a lot of grumbling about tradition and the pretty bird and all that. Then they ate it and that started to soften the blow. And my wife was quietly reminding people that they didn't have to make the bird. That quieted things further.

    It took a couple years, and I think there's still some hold outs, but for the most part, folks are just happy with properly cooked bird.

    I actually wish frozen turkey's were more readily available year-round. I buy whole chickens and break them down and would love to do that a few turkeys each year. :)
     
    Crazy Canuck likes this.
  5. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Best of luck. :thumbsup:
     
    neo71665 likes this.
  6. Insipid Moniker

    Insipid Moniker

    Feb 28, 2011
    Red wine braised short ribs. I don't know that I've ever eaten turkey that I thought was worth the trouble that goes into preparing it, so I stopped making one a few years ago. I'll do some salmon in the smoker for the pescatarian contingent, but there won't be much of a gathering due to the pandemic, so I'm sticking to making foods everyone really likes rather than traditional fare.
     
    AntDog, neo71665 and Eli Chaps like this.
  7. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Give the dry brine method a go sometime.

    You can try it out on chicken for an idea. I'll usually spatchcock a chicken for that but works as well with any pieces. The turkey will have more flavor but it'll let ya know if you like it.

    I dry brine stuff fairly often these days.
     
    Insipid Moniker likes this.
  8. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Also, I'll never turn down some braised short ribs! :)
     
    Insipid Moniker likes this.
  9. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    @Insipid Moniker

    Also, also...I didn't know what a pescatarian was until now. That's um, interesting...
     
    greatscoot and Insipid Moniker like this.
  10. The Amazing Virginian

    The Amazing Virginian Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 24, 2010
    I'll be spatchcocking and then grilling a chicken tomorrow! Low and slow - about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Regular salt water brine with brown sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and tarragon.

    I can spatchcock and cook a chicken and have all the different parts come out pretty great at the same time, but it just doesn't seem to work that way for turkey unless I butcher it and cook the pieces separately as you describe.
     
  11. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Awesome. I gotta tell ya friend, I was a wet brine guy for a long time but no more. I'm all in on dry brining. I genuinely think it is superior. Give it a shot. Can use all the same ingredients.
     
  12. Crazy Canuck

    Crazy Canuck Singing along with the voices in my head Gold Member

    Nov 24, 2013
    I'm usually all about the wet brine and slow smoke for turkey, but it's just the wife and I this year, and your dry brine and butcher might be something we look closer at.
     
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  13. neo71665

    neo71665

    178
    Feb 18, 2020
    Thanks but my pulled pork normally turns out to empty plates. ;)
     
  14. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Even if you just do a breast, I really think dry brining is awesome. While I haven't tried it, I'm sure it would work for smoking too. I've pretty much completely abandoned wet brines.

    This is more or less how I attack it.

     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
    Crazy Canuck likes this.
  15. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    No doubt.

    I meant getting the deer. :)
     
  16. AntDog

    AntDog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 3, 2001
    I’m gonna make a small ham and probably smoke a turkey breast or two. Just gonna be us since we don’t want to get corona or spread it to family. I could never live with myself if that was to happen, so taking no chances.

    Leftovers will go into gumbo and turkey pot pie.
     
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  17. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Yeah, small get together for us too.
     
    AntDog likes this.
  18. neo71665

    neo71665

    178
    Feb 18, 2020
    lol, thanks bud
     
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  19. Crazy Canuck

    Crazy Canuck Singing along with the voices in my head Gold Member

    Nov 24, 2013
    That video was great. Asked my wife to go get me a turkey... She smiled and said heck no, it's 9pm!

    Soon.
     
    Eli Chaps likes this.
  20. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Like I said, I started out practicing on chickens. :)
     
    12345678910 likes this.

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