Brine that bird Baby!

Brine

(the above picture was from my #summerofsalads post on Chicken salad but it’s a good representation of what your Brine will look like once you’ve placed in the bird)

Hey there!  It’s the week before the big feast and I am sure alot of you are starting to think about how you’ll prepare your bird this year.  I say Brine it first baby! 🙂

I started along the Brining path, this past year, in an effort to tenderize the little hens we were getting from our friends who’ve been raising chickens the past couple of years.  This summer, we still had a HUGE Turkey in the freezer from last Thanksgiving and I decided I wanted to try and Brine it before I Smoked it.  People, let me tell you….it was SO juicy and delicious!  And typically, I don’t really like Turkey!  Now, if you can Brine it and then Smoke it, great, but if not, it’s still going to be amazing!

Smoking...

(the above picture was also from my #summerofsalads post on Chicken salad)

I was at the grocery store over the weekend and saw a woman and her husband talking about Brining their Turkey.  The husband didn’t want to deal with it, but she had always wanted to.  I saw her in the next aisle and told her to do it!  I haven’t ever used a bag to do so (which is what they were looking at) and wouldn’t trust it not to break open, so I say, grab the biggest container you have and get at it!  If the temperatures are right, you can carefully leave the container (covered) in the garage for the Brining process.  Disclaimer:  just be sure the liquid stays cold enough the whole time, 38 degrees or less.  You don’t want to make everyone sick on Thanksgiving.

I did a little research for you; I use a big pickle bucket my hubby brought home from work and then place the whole thing in my garage fridge.  (do you have a neighbor with a garage fridge you could borrow a bit of space from?) You can purchase the same type of container, from Home Depot for less than $3.00!  Then you’ll have it for years to come, you can call it “Homers Brining Bucket” because trust me, once you Brine that bird, you’ll never go back! 🙂

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So, you’ll first need to thaw out your bird like you normally do….I like to Brine for at least 24 hours, so plan one extra day in the process.  Grab your big container and add the following to it:

Brine:

(Makes one gallon of brine; you’ll probably need two at least…)

3 lemons, cut in half

1 cup kosher salt  (I used pickling salt the last time!)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons whole peppercorns

3 (I used roasted) Jalapeños seeds removed

fresh herbs…sage, thyme, oregano, chives etc.

(if fresh is not available, use at least 1 tablespoon of dried basil, oregano & thyme)

1 gallon cold water

Mix everything up together, careful to dissolve the salt & sugar before adding your bird.  Remove your bird from the wrapper and take out the giblets.  (you can save them in a bowl in the fridge to add back into the bird if you want when you bake it)  Rinse the Turkey, inside & out.  Then carefully submerge the bird in the Brining liquid.  It may try to float back up on you, and if so, you can place a heavy sauce pan on top of it to keep it down under the water.  About halfways through the Brining period, grab a long utensil and stir the liquid around the bird.

Over the weekend, I saw a local news channel posted the process of Brining a bird and used a bit different ingredients in their Brine.  As of this blog post, they still haven’t posted the recipe, but you can watch the video here.

Snoopy Thanksgiving

Now we are at T-day; carefully remove the bird from it’s bath, and place inside a clean sink.  Rinse the entire thing with cold water to remove the salt water and excess herbs etc.  I’ve even seen suggestions to soak the bird in cold water for a half hour or so, to help remove some of the salt.  That way your gravy won’t be too salty.  Place into your roasting pan, and bake at 350 degrees, for approximately 3 hours.  Follow this process for a bird weighing 16-22 pounds.  After the first hour, baste regularly (every half hour or so) and once the breast meat has reached a temp of 165 degrees, take it out.  Be sure to let it rest before slicing into it.  If you feel, during the process, your skin is getting too dark, cover it with a bit of aluminum foil.  You can also start with it covered, say for the first hour, then remove it for the remaining time.  I didn’t talk about seasoning the bird, hoping that you’ll have that covered okay…but definitely reach out if you need some suggestions.

Braised Potatoes

Looking for a few different ideas of sides etc. to have with your feast?  Check out my post from last year; it contains some great ideas on twists & new classics.  Also, I recently became obsessed with braising Potatoes….what?!?! Yep, they totally rock!  If you want to divert from the traditional mashed potato action, try these.  I got the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen and you can find it here.  (you’ll have to register to gain access to the recipe, but it’s worth it, trust me!)

Wine Thanksgiving 2012

Please share this post with family & friends…I would be so “thankful” if you would!

I am hoping that you enjoy a delicious, relaxing holiday with those you love.  If you are headed out on Black Friday, be careful. 🙂

Cheers,  Shawn

Summer Sippers, Tequila…

Margarita SQ

I love Margarita’s….always have.  Over the years, I’ve refined my taste for them…originally loving the super sweet, slushy kind you get from one of those big Margarita machines, but now loving the traditional kind, good tequila, lime juice, ice, salt and a splash of Grand Marnier.  But you don’t always have to choose a Margarita to enjoy Tequila in a cocktail.  And no, I am not talking about shooters, (I’ve done plenty of that when I was younger!) or even the old-fashioned Tequila Sunrise…oh the memories of that… But so many other fruity options are available to enjoy your Tequila!

One thing I am so excited to talk to you about…that my family is sick of hearing me talk about, is my new-found obsession lately with Podcasts!  I have a few favorites, some are Social Media related, pertaining to my new business, but the rest are all food-focused.  My favorites include America’s Test Kitchen, Spilled Milk…and recently, The Sporkful  had a Tequila podcast, and it’s a must listen.  Do you have any Podcasts you are obsessed with that you want to share with me?

Taken straight from The Sporkful blog, “Like so many people, Dan was scarred by tequila at a young age, and hasn’t been able to drink it for years. In Sporkful Episode 159, he sets out to overcome his aversion and learn to appreciate good tequila with help from Ilana Edelstein, author of The Patron Way: The Untold Inside Story of the World’s Most Successful Tequila.  Dan rates each tequila they taste by how strongly it evokes the “hot car trunk” rating in which that fateful bottle was stored so many years ago, and Ilana shares recipes for a couple of her favorite tequila cocktails.” 

It’s very informative when it comes to how Patrón is made and classified.  I am TOTALLY trying her recipe for Margaritas that includes Squirt! 🙂  You can also sign up to be a member of the Patrón Social Club with access to recipes, events etc.

So I don’t really have a “recipe” for you today, as when I drink Tequila, in the past, it’s been as a basic Margarita.  However, I did make a small batch of Rhubarb Syrup the other day, you can find the recipe here, and because I used the green variety of Rhubarb, it ended up looking much like a normal Margarita!  So here’s the basic recipe for that drink…you can play with the amounts…

Tequila, choose a good one, like Patrón (2oz. +/- per drink)

Grand Marnier (orange & cognac, 1/2oz. +/- per drink)

Lime juice, fresh limes…or if you have to, the best mix you can find/buy

Rhubarb Syrup (see link above for recipe, 2oz. +/- per drink)

a splash of something bubbly…I used Seagrams Orange Citrus sparkling seltzer water

Ice

Rhubarb Margarita

If you are paying attention, you’ll notice the drink above is slightly pink….I may have added a bit of Pomegranate juice to it….so it looked more “rhubarb-like”…don’t hate me 🙂

Anyway, here are some great ideas of ways to enjoy Tequila beyond the typical Margarita!

Tequila Cherry Mostarda from Mama Knows (Best) Her Cocktails

Another great cocktail I found on Mama Knows (Best) Her Cocktails is for a Tequila Tonic.  It include Coconut Water and a Ginger Simple Syrup…um YUM!

These Fresh Pineapple Margarita’s from Gimme Some Oven look insane!  So fresh & sweet!

I pinned this recipe for Lime Sorbet Margarita’s from Real Simple Magazine a long time ago and know they would make a great refreshing drink this summer!

So many cocktails are emerging lately with Watermelon as a main ingredient!  What says summer more, right?!  The Watermelon Tequila Cocktail from Bobby Flay via Food & Wine is just the ticket!

How about a Cucumber Margarita?  Or a Celery Margarita?  Or even a Red-Chile Guava Margarita?  They are all here in this list of Margarita Recipes from Chow.com

Hope you’ll take a break from this awesomely hot summer we are off to, and enjoy one of these great Tequila cocktails!  Please share with me any great recipes you have for Tequila as well!

Until next time, cheers! ~Shawn