Turkey Tales

He's letting that skull dry on top of the bread oven.
Our intrepid grandson has been out hunting with a family friend over the holidays.  He comes home with carcasses of various sorts, sheep-goat (apparently there is such a creature), pig, erkel, turkey, quail, etc.(thankfully cleaned and gutted), puts said meat into plastic supermarket shopping bags, then throws it in the freezer.  I have only just noticed this practice, as it was not occurring at my house.  Offering to deal with a turkey was what brought me into contact with a freezer burnt, sad looking bird.  Probably should just have chucked the poor, wild thing.  But, fixed as I was on brining something, figured maybe this would be an appropriate test.   For more information, and the science of why it works, than you probably want or need on brining, check here.

First off, I let the bird thaw in its shopping bags, then got out Michael Ruhlman's Ratio book, for the brine formula, to which I added a few herbs and some cracked pepper, as he also suggests.  Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Basic Brine
80 ounces water (10 cups) - I used 8 cups and the remainder in ice to cool it down
4 ounces kosher salt (about 1/2 cup Morton's)
And, my additions:
about 10 bruised peppercorns
2 sprigs rosemary
bunch of sage leaves
1 bruised clove garlic

Combine the ingredients in a pan over high heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved.  Remove from the heat, and let it cool to room temperature (at which point I added my ice), then refrigerate until cold.  When completely chilled, put  your rinsed bird in a 2 gal. freezer bag (set in a large bowl for support) and pour in the brine solution, removing as much air as possible.  Seal the bag, then refrigerate 8 to 12 hours, or until needed.

The brine not only results in meat that's juicier, it carries the flavors of your aromatics into the muscle, and since it is also a preservative, the meat will keep fresh longer.  All this per Mr. Ruhlman.  The only question I had was, will this at all help a slightly freezer burnt turkey?  If you are a vegetarian (and even if you're not) you may want to skip this next photo.

OK.  It was at this point (I'm a tad unobservant I guess) that it occurred to me, this is the scrawniest, turkey I've ever seen.  And, some major parts seemed to be missing??  I weighed the guy and he came to a total of 3 lbs., as you can see, mostly skin and bones.  I asked Isaiah, "Did Mike take the breasts home for dinner and leave the rest for you?"  He just laughed and said, "No, they got blown off."  He aimed a bit low, apparently.  Bless his heart.  So, turkey soup.  And, his mother can do it.  You don't need another recipe for turkey soup here.


Barbara said...

I've never brined a turkey. It isn't particularly popular down here. Your grandson sounds fun.

Claudia said...

Oh he is. And, very capable. Right now he's helping a handyman repair our pool deck. Likes using power tools.

Maria Verivaki said...

whatever it is, it had to be used wisely and sustainably
and you did a good job on it!

Claudia said...

Thanks Maria, I'm waiting for the turkey soup.

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

I was so impressed by the fact that you have a bread oven, I almost didn't notice the skull on top.