Let me categorically state "I hate Big Bird!"
Before you Sesame St enthusiasts start your hate mail protest, I am not speaking of thee Big Bird but instead, my Thanksgiving TURKEY!!!
It all began with our preparations for the big day (Yes, we celebrate on the 1st Monday of October each year) No, it has nothing to do with Pilgrims but more to do with giving thanks for the early harvest (we invented it here in Canada so we have privilege, ha ha )
Anyways . . .
I was looking for my normal 18 pound fresh turkey to start the brining process. (I can't abide by an unbrined bird!)
Strangely, there were no birds of this size available in my greater area. So, against my better judgment, I went with a 25 pound bird ! It might have had something to do with this stubborn big wild Tom Turkey who would not get off the road enroute to the store. He just belligerently stood there in the middle of road, refusing to move. Showing off I think for the dozen or so hens in his harem!
Wednesday, we get this massive bird home from the store and my husband places it, still wrapped and still in the grocery bag in the frig, safe and sound (or so I thought!)
A few hours later, I go to the frig to get one of my protein bars (I had 48 of them in the crisper drawer to keep them from melting) When I open the frig door I discover this horrible bird sitting on the top shelf (wrong) and has dripped turkey blood all over everything below it including covering my protein bars and them now sitting in approx 2" of blood. Raw turkey guts blood!!!! So I do what I do best . . . I closed the door and waited for my husband to return home and ask him if he could get me a protein bar from the frig? ha ha
The next morning (Thursday) it is time to start the brining process: Guess what? This miserable bird is too big for my brining pot I've used for the past 15 years!!!!!! My husband comes up with what he thinks is a reasonable alternative until I point out, we would need 10 gallons of brining liquid to submerge the massive beast because his idea is soooo large. Also, it would not fit in the frig and our weather was not conducive to keeping it outside. We tried coolers, storage containers and nothing was going to work. The next logical step for me was GOOGLE!
Did you know Bed, Bath & Beyond sell brining bags for up to a 25 pound turkey? I did not, but I immediately called our closest store to inquire as to stock on hand. They had only the 1 left and I had them put my name on it and sent my husband in to secure it while I got the brining ingredients ready & cooled: Salt which was marked as Kosher but was actually rock sea salt which I couldn't use (husband to make another stop to get the correct salt and 3 times the amount we thought was needed!)
Add to the mixture, navel oranges, a foot of fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, peppercorns, star anise, mustard seeds, unpeeled onions, honey, maple syrup, brown sugar and bouquet garni. We're ready to rock!
Fast forward; the bird is happily immersed in 4 gallons of beautifully scented bath: all it needed was a glass of wine!
Saturday night it is time to take him out, pat him dry and let him airdry in the frig overnight. The last thing we expected, needed or wanted was a Turkey Tsunami !! WHAMMO the bag split and we were awash in mustard seeds and all the accompanying ingredients! It would have been terrific to see later in slow motion!! All over us, the counter, inside the cupboards. It reached the stove the frig and all the way into our laundry room too. A total bust up of bird juice everywhere!
We wrangle the horrible beast into the huge roasting pan that he just barely fits into and get him secured in the frig around midnight and pray he doesn't break the shelf he's resting upon.
Sunday, feast day arrives and the monster has to be brought to room temperature prior to 10:30 am oven time. He gets brushed with a combo of duck fat and maple syrup to help crisp up and brown the skin. He's going to cook for 4.5 hours but in 2 hours we're going to flip him over as I always start to cook a bird breast side down first to allow the juices to gather in what can be the driest part of the bird. After two hours we manage to get the creature flipped and ready for its final cooktime. Believe me, Flipping Houses is easier than this big guy!!!
Unfortunately, he browned a little more than my liking because of the maple syrup! Out he comes and rests for at least 2 hours under a tent of foil. Big birds take longer for everything!!!
We're ready to serve so he gets placed on the HUGE serving platter only to discover there's little leftover space on which to decorate with the accompanying 60 Cranberry Meatballs as planned! We got about 2 dozen on the plate and the rest had to be presented in a separate bowl. "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry" I couldn't even lift the plattter to bring it to the table!! My stuffing was a success though even though I made it separately from the bird as it cooks quicker.
Did I mention I don't even eat turkey? I think it was a success though, if this photo says it all !
Happy Thanksgiving 2018 to all, from our house to yours!
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