Are you bored with Plain Jane turkey for Thanksgiving? Impress your friends and family this holiday season with a fresh, new twist on the traditional. Jazz up your turkey with one of the delicious ideas in this week’s issue.
Although no one knows for sure, there are several theories as to how the turkey got it’s place at the Thanksgiving table. Historians uncovered a letter written by pilgrim Edward Winslow that mentions a turkey hunting trip before the first Thanksgiving meal.
Another theory gives the Queen of England credit for the idea of the Thanksgiving turkey. During the 16th century, a fleet of Spanish ships sunk on their way to attack England. Apparently the Queen received this news while eating dinner. She ordered another goose be served to celebrate the news. Some historians say the early American settlers were inspired by the queen’s actions and roasted a turkey instead of a goose for the first Thanksgiving meal.
The traditional menu of turkey with gravy, stuffing, and plum pudding was made popular by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, published in 1843. It was widely read in the United States. Culinary historians believe that Scrooge’s gift of a Christmas turkey to the Cratchit family helped solidify the turkey’s place at the center of the holiday meal for both modest and affluent households.
However the tradition originated, turkey has become the most popular main dish at the Thanksgiving table, with more than 88 percent of Americans eating turkey – that’s 46 million turkeys consumed for the holiday meal.
Nutritional Value of roasted turkey breast without skin (4oz):
Total Fat: 0.8 g (1 percent)
Cholesterol: 94 mg (31 percent)
Sodium: 59 mg (2 percent)
Potassium: 330 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 0 g
Dietary fiber: 0 g
Sugar: 0 g
Calcium: 13.6 mg
Protein: 34 g
Brining a turkey adds lots of flavor and helps keep the bird moist while roasting. However, if you’ve ever tried to brine a turkey, you know what a hassle and a mess it can be. First, you need to find a bucket or cooler big enough to hold enough water to submerge the bird. Then you need to make enough room in the refrigerator to hold bucket and bird. Finally, you’ll need to clean up the whole mess after the turkey goes in the oven.
A much easier (and cleaner) method is dry brining. You will need a roasting pan big enough to hold the turkey (but you’re going to need that anyway) and room in the fridge to hold the roasting pan.
For a 15-18 pound turkey you will need:
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon or orange zested
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Remove giblets and neck from turkey. Rub salt mixture all over turkey, inside and out.
Place turkey on rack in a roasting pan. Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.
Just before roasting, rinse well with lukewarm water to remove salt. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Roast according to your favorite method (or check the Butterball website for help.)
No time or no room to brine? Try stuffing the cavity of your bird with lemon, orange, apple or onion wedges or any combination of these. As the bird cooks, the flavors will gently enhance the flavor of your bird.
Karen Tempel, an aspiring chef since she could reach the countertops, has been delighting friends and family with tempting treats for most of her life. She is the owner of Everyday Gourmet, a custom caterer in the Aiken area. Visit her website at www.LetKarenCook.com or email her at Karen@LetKarenCook.com.