Monday, 11 October 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving Day Special: Missing DVDs, Read Books and Played-with Lego, Plus Succulent Turkey

Just spent a half hour crawling around on hands and knees in the guest room, looking for a DVD that had gone astray. We had the augmented gang over yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner--35 adults and eight kids, ranging in age from six weeks (Jeanne, the tiny perfect baby) to our friends Sid and Doris Ingerman who will turn 82 this winter. It was great fun, but somewhere along the way one of the three DVDs I rented for the younger generation got kicked under the TV/DVD player.

I suspect that nobody actually watched anything since there also was a lot of Lego scattered around too, as well as a pile of books that had obvsiously been looked at. A lot more effort seemed to go into eating--I cooked two 5.5 kilo turkeys plus two turkey legs, and everyone brought something including desserts to die for. Emmanuel carved the birds with great panache, Jeanne got passed around so that everyone got a cuddle, and some of the problems of the world were settled. In short, it was a great occasion to enjoy friends and family and to remember how truly fortunate we are.

Here's the recipe for the turkey which involved brining it for 24 hours. Well worth the effort.

Adapted from Global Gourmet and inspired by the way that Alice Waters did it.

Good for one 18-20 pound turkey or two smaller ones.

3 cups water
2 cups kosher/rock salt
1 cup sugar
5-6 bay leaves, torn up
6 sprigs of fresh rosemary, or 2 tsp of dried
1 whole head of garlic, peeled
5 whole allspice berries, crushed
4 juniper berries, crushed
10 black peppercorns, crushed
4 or 5 dried chili peppers

Stir the ingredients together in a saucepan over heat until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Put the bird into a big container (I used a canning vat in which both turkeys fit well.) Fill the container about half full of water. Add brine, and more water until the bird/s is/are covered. Refrigerate for 24 hours turning if necessary to make sure that all surfaces have several hours of direct contact with the brine.

Stuff with dressing--I use my mother's old fashioned white bread, onion and sage one with a little lemon zest added.

Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Do not salt. Cook uncovered in a 400-degree oven for a half hour per kilo/12 to 15 minutes per pound. If the skin browns too fast, place a piece of aluminum foil over the affected part.

The result is terrific, and the drippings make fantastic gravy.

You can also do this with chicken and pork roast, halving the brine recipe. For pork, increase the brining time to three days.

No comments: