Sometimes I forget to live the good life because I am too busy running faster than I have strength. But then my family reminds me that they are my good life. For instance today, my youngest brother called me and told me he was coming for Thanksgiving. I was already excited my sister and her family were coming. Now cooking for a big family crowd, that is the good life for me. But cooking with my sister, husband, kids and brother in the kitchen together is the suberb life to me. I am always in such a hurry to get dinner on the table between work, errands and after school activities. Thanksgiving is that wonderful holiday where in honor of traditions and gratitude we set aside a whole day to cook for and with our families.
Two of my brothers. This is how they live the good life. The third one is living it up in New Zealand.
My sister and her crew. Yes she looks a little like me.
This year I will be serving up a brined turkey for Thanksgiving day. My husband and I have mastered the brined turkey -- we love making this succulent dish together. Sometimes we even make it when it is not Thanksgiving. Just because it is that good.
We use Emeril Legasse's recipe for an herbed brine. It is basic ingredients that are easy to find or that you already have. None of that fancy brine for us. We use a drink cooler to brine our turkey. It fits the turkey easily - It is easier to transport and after you have added ice and freezing cold water to the cooler it keeps safely in the cold garage over night.
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 oranges, quartered
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey
- 1 large orange, cut into 1/8ths
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (I used a smart balance spread that is dairy free for my lactose intolerant daughter and the turkey still browned up beautiful.)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/8ths
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 bunch sage
- 3 or 4 sprigs parsley
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting
For the Brine:
To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a nonreactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, food grade plastic storage bag). This is where we used the drink cooler and we added a bunch of ice on top. Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary. Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.
Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels both inside and out. Place turkey, breast side up, in a large, heavy roasting pan. Rub breast side with orange segments and rub on all sides with the butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the turkey with the onion, remaining orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string. Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.
Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
"As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here: http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway"