06 December 2007

Some Belated Thanks

Well, it's never really too late to give thanks, and we certainly should not wait until an arbitrary national holiday to appreciate the good things in our lives. It's been a few weeks, I know. But it's especially important for me right now to keep the positive vibes going, because I've had a really crappy December. Let me get the pity party out of the way. In the last two weeks, I:

1) was rear-ended during traffic on 35W, one of the busiest freeways in the Twin Cities (the same road where the bridge collapsed).
2) had my car towed due to complicated Mpls Snow Emergency rules.
3) lost my wallet and keys.

Surprisingly, I have not been soured by these recent events. Maybe it was that year in California that mellowed me out. I've recently tried to cope by reframing the situation and thinking about what I am meant to learn from these misfortunes. I also realized that these are all just things, and I have much to still be thankful for. You know, a roof over my head, my health and the health of all my loved ones, harmony within my family, being in a great graduate program, having wonderful classmates and friends, and so on and so on.

Oh, and of course...I am thankful for always having good food to eat. This is obviously very important to me, and I sometimes forget what a privilege it is! My first Thanksgiving in Minneapolis was no exception. As I mentioned in my last blog so-long-ago, my classmates decided to have a little Thanksgiving potluck the week before Thanksgiving. It was a splendid spread with lots of gourmet goodies made with love! Everyone came through with some awesome dishes. We had the turkey and a roux-stock gravy (story of the brining endeavor below), butternut squash and hazelnut lasagna, stuffing, Parmesan mashed potatoes, roasted brussel spouts, pumpkin bread, salad w/ carrot-ginger dressing, cranberries, and cheesecake custard. Not bad for a bunch of starving graduate students. I was very thankful for all this delicious food, and the good cheer shared by the wonderful company. A rousing game of Taboo helped as well!

My few foodie fans out there have been asking me how the brined turkey turned out, and I am proud to say that it was a HIT! I did end up using the Good Eats Roasted Turkey recipe, which called for a 6 hour brine. The brining is quite simple; just boil the ingredients and pour the cooled brine in with the turkey. Some places sell special brining bags; I thought I would be clever and buy a Reynolds Oven bag. That didn't work b/c the bag got a hole in it. Oh well. What's really tricky is figuring out where to let the huge thing soak for that extended period of time. Luckily, my ex-roommate had abandoned a perfectly sized cooler!

After it soaked for 6 hours, you gotta dump out the brine and rinse the chicken well. Doesn't make sense? Read my last blog entry to understand what goes on w/ the brining process. Be sure to pat it dry all over before greasing it up so that your skin will crisp. After that, you "flash roast" the turkey in the oven: 500 degrees for 30 minutes. This will give the skin a golden crisp. Then you lower the temp to 350 and cook for another 2-2.5 hours (depending on the weight of the bird). Ideally, you will possess a meat thermometer that goes up to the requisite 161 degrees, instead of a totally useless thermometer that only goes up to 120. I was very paranoid about infecting everyone with salmonella, so I had it roast an extra 30 minutes or so. Turned out well-done (10 lb bird for about 3 hours total).

The verdict? Well, here are a few comments I received:
Wow, it is so juicy and flavorful.
Gravy is hard to do, and this is very good!
Yum, and I don't even like turkey!
This is the best turkey I have ever had.
*comments may have been slightly altered for effect. Except for the last one; that's a REAL quote!

While it was somewhat time consuming, I am definitely going to try another brined turkey. My parents saw the pictures and want me to try and convert them into being turkey-eaters (instead of turkey-haters) on Christmas. We'll see...greater miracles have been known to happen!

Stay tuned for more Thanksgiving 2007 Frugal Foodie action....Next up, turkey stock!


Christine said...

First of all, I love Steph's food entries. Secondly, Alton Brown's Good Eats turkey recipe rocks. It's a wonderful way to brine, you can really taste the difference. And for anyone who doesn't have a container large enough to hold a turkey + brine, Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma both sell turkey brining bags. A little pricey, but convenient.

Steph said...

Thanks for being such a dedicated reader :) BTW even if you have a bag, where do you put it??? In your kitchen sink? Also, the kind I bought sucked and got a hole in it.