Getting Your Money's Worth
I was shopping recently and saw that turkeys were on sale and I thought it would be cool to roast one. Everyone loves turkey and how you get turkey sandwiches for days afterward. It's a good economic investment if you have the time to prepare it so I went for it. The first obstacle I faced was that it was frozen solid at the time of purchased and I had to either roast the sucker the next day or have to wait until next weekend. While tryptophan swirled in my head, I decided that I would try and thaw it as fast as I could and get some immediate gratification. I placed the boulder in a cooler and stuck it in my bath tub under running water for a few hours. Meanwhile I prepared the brine for the turkey...
I had only made two other turkeys before, but I know that brining it before roasting is really the only way to go (I hear deep frying is good too and I want to try it one day, but the hardware investments and managing all that oil is beyond what I feel like doing at this point of my culinary career). Brining brings so much flavor deep into the meat as well as keeping all the juices to be around. There is nothing worse than dry breast meat...I didn't think I would make another turkey until the holidays because I use a vegetable broth base brine and buying a gallon worth of broth can be expensive. This time, however, I am going with a new approach. Along with the brown sugar and kosher salt, I mixed 4 quarts of water with 1 6oz container of frozen orange juice concentrate. After heating the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar, I let it cool and pour it into the cooler with the turkey. I then topped off the brine with broth until the turkey is submerged. Throw in some ice to keep things cold and I was off to bed.
The rest was pretty standard turkey making. Rinse turkey and pat dry, stuff turkey with sliced apple and onion for aromatics, and brush with canola oil for nice brown skin. I of course subscribe to the Alton Brown method and blast the turkey at 500 degree for 30 minutes, then lowering the heat to 350 degrees until the breast hit 161 degrees (I like my probe thermometer. Have you seen the wireless ones? That is cool...and I am a kitchen geek). As you can see, it looked pretty...
Taste-wise the turkey was pretty good. I don't know just how thaw the turkey was so it took a little longer than expected to cook. I think it might have defeated the brine a little bit and dried out the breast just a touch. Overall it turned out well, with whole lot of turkey left for lots of sandwiches.
More importantly, I really wanted to make use of everything, including the carcass. I had wasted two carcasses before and I wanted to try making stock. I use stock for everything lately so having some homemade stock would keep me from having to buy some more. I threw the bones in a pot with some carrots and celery and simmer it all for about 8 hours, occasionally taking time to get all that foamy film off the top. Let it cool in a sink of ice water, and refrigerate overnight. Come back the next morning and get the hardened fat out of there and package. I filled my ice cube tray with half of the stock and froze them into convenient cubes. The other half I wanted to use now so I made Turkey Noodle soup.
I didn't want to do much more cooking so I kept it simple. Boil the (now gelatinous) stock for 2 minutes and add chopped onion and carrots (celery too, if you like it. I don't). Cook egg noodle according to package directions and add to soup with some of the leftover turkey, diced. Serve when heated through.
For $12.99 plus tax, I figured I fed everyone for quite a few meals. You can't beat that.