Monday, November 7, 2011

Brine your turkey for Christmas.

Peter Watson says we simply must brine the Turkey for better flavour and moist texture This is his recipe which also uses the divine stuffing mixes which we sell so many of each Christmas.

You must start the evening before with a fully thawed bird. It will need to be submerged in the brine solution and preferably kept in a cool or refrigerated situation for up to 8 hours. A large bird will need a very large pot or bucket. This solution should be enough for a 5kg to 8 kg bird.

3 litres of Vegetable Stock or chicken stock
375 grams of table salt
1 cup sugar (brown is best)
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 litre of iced water
Bring stock, salt, sugar and herbs to the boil, allow to cool then add the iced water to cool completely.
You will need a clean bucket that will easily hold the turkey with the brine. Place the brine into the bucket.
Wash and dry the turkey and lower the bird breast first into the bucket making sure that the cavities are filled with the brine. Place something on the bird to keep it below the brine solution. Place the bucket into the refrigerator over night, or no longer than 8 hours. If the refrigerator is otherwise occupied, consider using a chiller or even a styrene box. Remove the turkey and dry it completely. When cooking you will need to allow for the fact that a brined turkey will cook faster.

Cooking the Turkey
Stuff your turkey in both the cavities, being careful not to overstuff the main cavity of the bird. Use a  combination of pork mince (with fat) and one of the Peter Watson stuffing mixes; Prune and Apple, Apple Red Onion and Sage, or Cranberry, Walnut & Thyme (Gluten Free). The neck cavity can be well stuffed, it may also be an advantage to bind the stuffing mix with an egg.
The quick method:
The accepted norm is to allow 20 minutes per kilo and then add an hour. In the case of a brined bird, it would be as well to check the bird after 30 minutes. Please preheat the oven... turn it up full and when you put the bird in to roast, drop to 180 celsius for the cooking time. 
The slow method:
Peter's secret... since most of us have a ham for Xmas and will remove the skin and glaze the ham... keep the skin and place it over the turkey to allow the ham fat and skin to act as a baster and a way to keep the moisture in. Cover the bird with aluminium foil. Preheat your oven to 140 celcius and cook slowly for 4 - 5 hours (depending on the size of the bird, if smaller, 3 - 4 hours and then remove the foil and turn up the heat to 180 celcius, cook for 45 minutes, remove the ham skin and cook for another 10 - 20 minutes till golden. (The ham skin if crisp, is quite delicious!!)

Peter likes to roast the bird on a bed of root vegetables with loads of fresh herbs and a good slug of orange juice. (This makes for a stunning gravy.)