Thursday, 24 November 2011

Turkeys and Chickens and Pork Roast: the Best Ever

Since it's Thanksgiving south of the border, and other holidays are coming up, here's a recipe that I found a couple of years ago on Global Gourmet and adapted a bit. Turkeys had become to be considered real turkeys around here: the overbreeding of the poor stupid bird has led to pretty bland flesh that none of us particularly liked. But this marinade (or, really, brine) does great things. It can also be used for chickens and pork roasts: I used it for a few hours on a chicken earlier this week which turned out exceptionally succulent.

For a large turkey. Halve for a chicken or pork roast. I use a big canning pot for a turkey (mine will hold two 14 pound birds, which is what I cooked for our Canadian Thanksgiving buffet in October.)

2-1/2 gallons cold water

2 cups kosher salt or gros sel

1 cup sugar

2 bay leaves, torn into pieces

1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 tablespoons dried
or a similar amount of rosemary

2-4 dried chilis, depending on your taste

1 whole head of garlic, peeled

5 whole allspice berries, crushed

4 juniper berries, crushed

Place the water in a large pot that can easily hold the liquid and the meat you intend to brine. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or so until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Refrigerate turkey in the brine for 48 hours; chicken for 4 to 24 hours; pork for 3 days. (We have a cold room and when I do this in the winter I put the pot there since it takes up a lot of room in the fridge.) If the meat floats to the top, use a plate or other weight to keep it completely submerged in the brine. I also turn the meat over once or twice to make sure the spices permeate the flesh.

You can stuff a chicken with onions, lemon wedges, and herbs such as thyme, parsley, and rosemary. Rub the skin with oil to help browning. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. (Salt isn't needed because of the brine.) Cook uncovered in a 400-degree oven until done, about 1 hour and 15 minutes for a 3-1/2 to 4-pound chicken.

For the turkey, I stuff it with my mother's white bread, onion and sage dressing (about the only recipe she really was good at, I might add). But you can use any stuffing you like or just add lemons, herbs, and onions/ Rub the skin with oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Cook uncovered in a 400-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes per pound until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh registers at least 165 degrees.

For a boneless pork roast, sprinkle it with pepper and herbs such as sage, thyme, or tarragon, if desired. Roast uncovered in a 400-degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches 150 to 160 degrees.

Very easy and very good.

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