I'm sure most people put more into their cooking when preparing their holiday meals than any other time of the year just as we do. If you love food and love and cooking it your also going to continue finding new and improved methods, recipes, ingredients, etc all along the way. With that said, let me share what this Thanksgiving meal brought in the way new ideas and changes in some of the things we are doing with our Thanksgiving cooking.
First of all does the Turkey really need to be an expensive Free Range - All Natural bird that you spend hours brining, injecting, and basting? I know I have always gone to a lot of trouble pursuing the perfect turkey and it can be hard to even find the all natural birds sometimes and when you do find one you will normally pay up to 3 times as much for it, add the time and trouble with brining a 20lb turkey and it can be a more than a little difficult.
This year we picked up a 20lb Butterball with "Up to 2%" solution and the results were that we had as good, if not better Turkey than ever. The first step, and I highly recommend doing this with your chicken as well is, to air dry the bird overnight in the fridge after washing and the initial preparation to aid in a nice skin for presentation. I also injected the bird with almost the entire bottle of Tony Chatchers Creole Butter and used our Spitjack injector which is about 10 times better than what you normally find. In fact I will include this injector and how much better job you can do with it in the list of things that made our bird good. An example would be - with the longer needle I was able to inject all the way from one end of the breast to the other without punching holes in the skin. The next step in the process was room temp herb butter mixture (1 1/2 sticks) under the skin of the breast. I used Lowery's Seasoned Salt in the cavity and on the outside and decided to allow the basting alone to color the bird evenly rather than try to add anything before cooking. Onion, garlic, and celery in the cavity was used and other than that cooking at 325 in a V-rack over broth to an internal of 180 thighs and 170 breast or as close to it as possible with emphesis on the breast temp is all that was needed to provide a great turkey. I have included pics of the "must haves" for our Thanksgiving dinner but as usual a number casseroles showed up as well, like the famous green bean casserole with Frenches Onions. Creamy Potato salad, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Cornbread Dressing are always part of the dinner as well as ham. This year however we found that we had enough Pulled Pork on hand from our Competition BBQ Cooking for our crowd and it took the place of the Ham which is another must have and there were no complaints. It was served without sauce or additional seasonings to provide that ham like experience.