TruTxFan’s Thanksgiving Dinner!
Wassup my friends? I said I would break out the recipeis for Thanksgiving, and that's what I'm going to do. A few things before I get started. First of all, everything I'm going to do on a smoker can be done in an oven. The only difference is the smoked flavor imparted. While this is important, it's not mandatory and the food produced will still be delicious. Secondly, I'm not tied down to measurements. People's tastes vary and the amounts produced vary. I will try and give decent guidelines though. Last, I'm going to break this down in to several posts for time purposes.
If you are going to have a great Thanksgiving feast, you need to plan ahead. I don't mean start on Wednesday, I mean start by at least Saturday. My Turkeys arrived yesterday. It was a little early, but they will hold in the fridge until I need them. I use small turkeys. 12 to 14 pounds. They taste better and they cook better. I'm doing two 14 pounders this year plus a turducken. The turducken is pre-prepped from LaBoucherie so all I have to do to it is cook it. If you are lucky, you can still get one sent to you if you hurry. They are awesome. There is a store in the Champions area in Houston, or you can order them on line. But enough of that. On to the cooking. On Tuesday I'll start my prep and cook. The turkeys will be brined for 24 hours. They will go in to the brine on Tuesday morning, come out Wednesday morning, then be dried off and set in the fridge to dry off completely until Thursday morning. You really need to dry off that skin if you want a nice crispy skin.
I spatchcock my birds. They cook better (more evenly), are easier to season, and they get done faster. Simply take some poultry shears and cut out the backbone. While you are at it, take a sharp knife and cut out the wishbone. This will make carving the bird super easy when it's done. You'll get nice big slices of breast meat. After you get that wishbone out, take your shears and give a little snip to that breast bone behind it. This will make it easier to push the bird flat. You want the bird to baisicly be all one level. Got it? If you have any questions about this, leave them in the comments.
Ok, so you have your bird, or birds ready to brine. Good job. Now forget about that for today because we are going to be talking stock. To me, this is the most important part of the cook. You can go buy some chicken stock, or maybe even find some turkey stock and you'll be ok. But for all that is holy, just for once, try and make your own stock. Trust me in that it will be a million times better. The stock is going to start your flavor profile for your dressing and your gravy. It's super easy to make, it just takes some time. Here we go.
step one: prep your veggies.
One large onion
a couple of stalks of celery
a couple of carrots
just cut them up roughly in even chunks.
your ratio of two parts onion to one part celery and one part carrot is what you are shooting for
step two: aromatics
you're going to need a nice bunch of parsley for your dinner, cut the leaves off and save the stems for the stock and put the leaves in a baggy in the fridge.
A nice bunch of fresh thyme
a couple of bay leaves
A tablespoon of black pepper corns.
Now it's time to start cooking. Take the back bone and the neck from your turkey and cut them in to about three pieces each. Go ahead and pull off the skin and fat. Now in a big pot (it will need to hold the veggies and turkey parts plus a gallon of water) put some vegetable oil in it and get it real hot. Don't use non stick. It won't give you the fond your looking for. Brown off your turkey pieces, turning them until they get a nice sear on all sides. Now take those out of the pan. Notice that dark brown stuff stuck to the bottom? That's fond. That's the stuff where dreams are made. Don't touch it. Next toss in your veg and aromatics and let them start releasing their moisture. That will deglaze the bottom of that pan. Use a flat edged wooden spoon to scrape up all of that yummyness. Once the onions start to become translucent, throw the turkey back in and add a gallon of water. Let that slowly boil. Is it slowly boiling? Good. Now wait. Is it still slowly boiling? Good. Now wait some more. Ok, keep it going until it reduces by half. That's right, half. It's going to take several hours, just keep an eye on it. When it gets down to the half way point turn off your stove and let it cool for a while, then you'll need to strain off the solids with a sieve and some cheese cloth. You'll be left with two quarts of ambrosia. I put mine in a big mason jar and stick it in the fridge until I need it.
Thats it for today boys and girls. Please ask any questions in the comments. Know that I love you all, Trutxfan.
Next time, Brining the bird.