Brining a Thanksgiving turkey is a lot less intimidating than most people think. Usually I use Alton Brown's Honey Brined Smoked Turkey recipe, since we like to smoke our turkey – the best way to cook it as far as I’m concerned.
Yet when the folks at Kikkoman proposed that I try their way of brining a turkey, I was intrigued. Not only would it give me a chance to experience a umami-infused turkey, but it would give me a chance to do two other things: spatchcocking (also known a butterflying) a turkey and using my new convection Frigidaire oven to cook it.
Turkey brining made easy
The best way to brine a turkey is to use a cooler. I had a cheap Styrofoam shipping container on hand, so the first thing I did was to make sure my 10 pound turkey would fit in it easily. Afterwards, I rinsed then bleached the inside, and rinsed it again with a great deal very hot water. (You can use a picnic cooler. Just make sure to clean it thoroughly before and after you brine your turkey.)
I had a feeling that the amount of brine that Kikkoman suggest wouldn’t be enough to cover the turkey, so I multiplied the amounts by one and a half, which ended up being just right. I followed the directions, then placed the turkey inside the cooler. Then I placed two big cooler packs in Ziploc bags inside plus a Ziploc bag of loose ice on top of the turkey. The bag on top served to weight down the turkey – which floated – as well as kept it cool.
Then I put on the lid and had my husband carry the turkey out to our cold garage to keep marinate for eight hours.
Want to know how the turkey turned out? See my post Spatchcocking your Thanksgiving turkey.
- 1 (16-24 pound) fresh turkey, defrosted
- 2 gallons cold water
- 10 ounces Kikkoman Soy Sauce
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons dried sage
- 2 tablespoons dried celery seed
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- The night before roasting, remove giblets and turkey neck; rinse turkey inside and out.
- In a large stockpot or 5-gallon bucket, mix water with remaining ingredients.
- Stir well until all the salt is dissolved.
- Place turkey in the pot, cover with a lid and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
- Remove turkey from the brine, rinse well.
- Pat turkey dry and cook as desired.
- Serving size: 1
Disclosure: Kikkoman sent me a gift card to cover my food expenses, product samples and some promotional items.
Why not create a healthy polymeal feast this Thanksgiving? Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S, is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition, and health. His new book Healthiest Meals on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What Meals to Eat and Why shows how to combine ingredients – what he refers to as “polymeals” – that promote long-term health to create meals that will literally save your life.
A polymeal is a meal composed of ingredients that enhance heart and blood vessel health. The seven magic ingredients are red wine, chocolate, almonds, garlic, fish, fruits and vegetables. Though every meal doesn’t contain them all, Dr. Bowden’s intention is to include ingredients in every meal that mimics the effects of those seven touchstone ingredients and that duplicates their health effects.
By eating the vital ingredients featured in Healthiest Meals on Earth as part of a balanced diet, Dr. Bowden claims you can cut the risk of heart disease by 75%, boost overall heart health, and add years to your life. The book has been endorsed by a virtual who's who in the world of integrative medicine and nutrition, including Mehmet Oz, M.D., Christiane Northurp, M.D., and Barry Sears, Ph.D.
The Healthiest Meals on Earth – not just a cookbook
When the folks at FSB Associates emailed me about the book, I was reluctant to accept a review copy since I’m overwhelmed with too many cookbooks. But Healthiest Meals on Earth is so much more. It’s a nutrition textbook with beautiful photographs and yummy looking recipes. The only failing in the book is that nutritional information (calories, etc.) aren’t listed along with the recipes. Still, you can go over the ingredients list, guesstimate calories, fiber and fat grams from a similar recipe, then figure the POINTS by typing it into a Weight Watchers POINTS Calculator.
I’ve been dipping into Healthiest Meals on Earth and have been enjoying looking over the recipes and the nutritional and health information. I’m very intrigued with the polymeal idea. (The book is divided into three sections: Four-Course Polymeals, One-Pot Polymeals with Simple Sides, and Delicious Drinks: The Liquid Polymeal.)
I’m so excited by this that I’m considering making his Healthiest Holiday Meal for Thanksgiving:
- Citrus-Stuffed Herbed Turkey (recipe below)
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus and Broccoli with Toasted Hazelnuts
- Holiday Waldorf Salad
- Cranberry-Orange Relish
- Sweet Potato Pie with Almond-Oat Crust
The challenge will be to use roasted pine nuts instead of tree nuts since my daughter has a nut allergy. (Pine nuts are not nuts. They’re seeds.) Also, I can make the Sweet Potato Pie without the crust, which make it nut-free and gluten free for my mother-in-law.
Wow, I’m getting excited about polymeal cooking! Check out Healthiest Meals on Earth and join me.Continue reading
Now that we've moved my mother-in-law out to Colorado, Thanksgiving is going to be challenging. No, not because she's mean ol' lady, but because she has celiac sprue and can't eat gluten. Combine that with my daughter's food allergies - no eggs and no nuts - and the holiday feast becomes quite challenging.
Hooray for turkey!
Working around these food allergies and sensitivities will be much easier than I thought. Thank goodness that my family can eat turkey. This year my husband has decided to smoke the bird, which should be a lot of fun. He used the smoker many times this summer and feels very confident using it.
I googled "smoked turkey" and found Alton Brown's recipe for Honey Brined Smoke Turkey. I love Alton's show and his appearances on Iron Chef America. We've made many of his recipes, and know his meat smoking recipes are top notch.
Honey Brined Smoked Turkey
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown, 2004
- 1 gallon hot water
- 1 pound kosher salt
- 2 quarts vegetable broth
- 1 pound honey
- 1 (7-pound) bag of ice
- 1 (15 to 20-pound) turkey, with giblets removed
- Vegetable oil, for rubbing turkey
- Combine the hot water and the salt in a 54-quart cooler. Stir until the salt dissolves. Stir in the vegetable broth and the honey. Add the ice and stir. Place the turkey in the brine, breast side up, and cover with cooler lid. Brine overnight, up to 12 hours.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and dry thoroughly. Rub the bird thoroughly with the vegetable oil.
- Heat the grill to 400 degrees F.
- Using a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil, build a smoke bomb. Place a cup of hickory wood chips in the center of the foil and gather up the edges, making a small pouch. Leave the pouch open at the top. Set this directly on the charcoal or on the metal bar over the gas flame. Set the turkey over indirect heat, insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat, and set the alarm for 160 degrees F. Close the lid and cook for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour check the bird; if the skin is golden brown, cover with aluminum foil and continue cooking. Also, after 1 hour, replace wood chips with second cup.
- Once the bird reaches 160 degrees F, remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 1 hour. Carve and serve.
What about the stuffing, sides and dessert?
I googled "gluten free cornbread vegan" and ended up finding a recipe here at This Mama Cooks! that I used for Christmas 2005 when my MIL was visiting - Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Cranberries. If I remember correctly, I found gluten-free cornbread mix at Wal-Mart and used egg substitute. There's no nuts in it either. (Also, the Cranberry-Cherry Compote recipe from Weight Watcher's Magazine looks pretty darn good, too.)
I'll be making a sweet potato dish and mash potatoes, of course. Now for the biggest challenge of all - dessert. Stay tuned.