November 25th, 2009

cap, captain miss america

Thanksgiving Tip of the Day: Prepping your Turkey, With Photos

So, to give you a sample of Google strings that have landed people at my blog today, we have:

do i need to put my turkey in a bag if i brine it?

No, you do not. You can put your turkey the long way into a really big stock pot. You can also buy a big plastic rubbermaid container or cooler and fill that with brine. But bagging it is the easiest way. Here’s how:

Get 2 heavy duty garbage bags and place one inside the other. Put them inside your turkey roastin pan. Take your cleaned, unwrapped turkey and put it in the bottom of the innermost bag. Keeping the bag upright and the opening to the top, pour in your brine solution. Now tie the bags shut and put the whole thing in your fridge. This is even easier with a brining bag, which is like a giant Ziploc. But garbage bags will do in a pinch!

thaw 26 lbs turkey in a day and half

Seriously, THREE different people got to my blog using this search string. SERIOUSLY. Guys. You might have wanted to look this up last week because you seriously need a day for every five lbs of turkey. So you should have started on Saturday.

If you are desperate, though, I will be nice. Take that sucker and clean out a giant rubber container or a big ass cooler. Run your tap to cold and fill it up. Put the turkey inside. Change the water after an hour. Keep doing this for 13 hours. Now your turkey is thawed.

should i take the bag out of the turkey

No, cook it with the PLASTIC BAG inside it. The PLASTIC melts, ENHANCING THE FLAVOR of your turkey.


can you brine a turkey in its plastic wrapping

Um. Since the plastic wrapping would PREVENT THE BRINE FROM GETTING IN, the answer is no.

a really big turkey


So it seems like people might need a little more help with their turkeys. It’s pretty late at night, but even if you are brining your bird, there is still time. I’m going to take you step by step through the cleaning process.

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Great! Now your turkey is ready for prepping! If you’re not ready to prep it yet– for example, if you’re salt-rubbing it, don’t do that till Wednesday night– then you can put it in its roasting pan and cover it up with plastic wrap or a towel. If you are brining it, you can brine it right away!

Give yourself a good half-hour to prep the turkey from beginning to end. It might go quicker than that but that allows you the time to look for feathers and to be slow and careful so you don’t drop it– turkeys are heavy!

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cap, captain miss america

Thanksgiving Tip of the Day: Perfect Stuffing

So, while you’re waiting patiently for your turkey to brine, or sitting twiddling your thumbs, or whatever else you do tonight, consider your stuffing!

You know how stuffing is always better reheated? If you want the best stuffing, take a cue from that old truism and make your stuffing tonight!

This is a traditional bread stuffing. You can also make stuffing with rice or other grains!

Stuffing can be made meat-free and even vegan. I’m posting a meat recipe, but I’ll make notes for what to do if you want to go vegan or vegetarian with your stuffing.

Here’s what you will need:
1 loaf of bread or equivalent– I like to mix up different types of bread. Cornbead, rye bread, pumpernickel, sourdough, and multigrain breads make the best stuffing. Don’t use plain white bread. Use bread that is a few days old!
1/2 lb of bacon (if you wish)
1/2 stick of butter, margarine, bacon fat, or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the casserole.
1 onion, sliced thin
1 rub of celery, chopped finely
Any vegetables you may like– I use turnips and kale here, but other veggies are yummy too. Some people also like raisins or currants. Leafy veggies should be cut into 1″ strips, chunky veggies should be cut into 1/2″ cubes.
1 egg (additional oil if you are making vegan)
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt, pepper, and spices if you want them. I put in a little sage and thyme.

To start, turn your oven to around 350.
Now cut your bread into 1 inch squares.
Butter, oil, or spray a cookie sheet and lay the bread out evenly like this:


Put them in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn the tray around and put them in again for 5 more minutes. The bread should be slightly toasty, like this:


It will be a little crispy to the touch and just golden-brown at the edges. You can turn the oven off now. You will do the real baking tomorrow!

Now, take a skillet and melt some butter or bacon fat, or use some vegetable oil. Heat at a moderately high temperature. Put in the onion and the celery, and keep the heat moderate.


Stir the onions and celery occasionally, until they are soft and slightly translucent. Now add your herbs and spices to the pan and stir for a couple minutes.

The onions and celery should look like this:


Now dump the bread and the onions and celery into a bowl.

Using the same pan, add some bacon. I used slab bacon because you can cut it into cubes! If you have a local farm, find out if they have slab bacon. If you’re vegetarian, forget the bacon and go onto the next step. (Tip: you can fry the bacon in advance and then use the bacon fat to cook the onions if you like that kind of thing)

Now, again in the same pan, cook your veggies up, one at a time. If you are making vegetarian stuffing, you may need to add more butter or oil at this point. Let me know if you need any veggie-sauteeing tips.

Put EVERYTHING in a big bowl like this:


Now you’ll want to get your egg and crack it in a little bowl, and then pour in your chicken broth. If you’re making vegan stuffing, you can use a little vegetable oil here, and obviously veggie broth is fine.


Whisk it up until you can’t see any bits of egg.


Now pour it all over your stuffing and mix it in with your hands really well!

Get a heat-resistant 9×13″ casserole and grease it– I like to use bacon grease for this, but you can use anything you like. How do you use bacon grease? Just drain it out of the pan into a tupperware or bowl, and then chill it in the fridge. It will get hard like butter! Then you can scoop it out with a spoon or your fingers.


Now pour in your stuffing! It should fit pretty much exactly if you used the same quantities I did.


Isn’t that pretty?!

You’re all done till tomorrow! You can bake it by itself or stuff your turkey with it! Cover it with foil or plastic and put it in the fridge! Good job!

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