In a bit, I’m headed off to a training in something known as IMM. I’ve had this same adventure before. Now – at this moment – it feels even more relevant.
It has to do with letting go of beliefs that hold us back from the things that matter most. With getting free, if you will, of lots of old stuff that more or less got installed in us like computer bugs in our bodies at times when we didn’t know we could choose our beliefs.
If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you may have noticed that I like having choices.
So, my choice for this moment…
It’s about to be the holiday weekend known in the USA as Thanksgiving. (Also as the excuse for Black Friday buying mania.)
Many, many of us are choosing what to do with the culturally growing realization that the fairy tale version of the first Thanksgiving we learned in school was, to say the least, a rather limited viewpoint.
And, if you’re like me, that feels like a call for some more learning.
And, if you’re like me, you have people you love.
One of those people in my world is the Legendary Husband who LOVES turkey!
So, we’re doing the thankful part and the bird part of the holiday.
Here comes the heresy part…
We’re not doing it the way we’ve always done it!
In fact, we’re starting with a whole different question. (Yep… you can probably guess!)
What are we trying to accomplish?
The answer, at our house, is some time to hang out together. A really good bird. Bones for broth. And – this one is important around here – not messing with Bill’s blood sugar!
All while keeping up with other things that matter and looking forward to what I am now calling the likelihood of Christmas with our kids.
So… my heretical recipe for dry brining the bird. And my confidence that my Grandmother is NOT going to disown me, especially not at this point in her adventure, for doing it differently. Dry brined turkey is really, really good and she’d probably have done it this way if she’d known. Wink! Wink!
And, for what it’s worth, a virtual bit of red ink for you. A reminder that all the stories we’ve learned – many, many of them before we reached the age of abstract thought – have been edited through the years and it’s more than okay if we edit for ourselves.
So celebrate if you choose. Or remember. And, maybe, ask some new questions…
In addition to What are we thankful for? how about What might we do to share our thanks and blessings with others? And, What other stories need telling?
And, yes, we want to stay age appropriate for the littles. No good comes of terrifying them!
Just making space for more stories. And the wonder of a world full of stories to learn!
Now for the bird…
Ingredient Notes: Buy the best you can get. It takes some hunting. Local farmers. Whole Foods. Dean & DeLuca, Zingermans, White Oak Pastures. This year, ours is a Heritage breed bird, pasture raised by my local, sustainable farmer friends at Carlton Farms. I like turkeys in the 18-20 pound range because they fit in my oven and I want lots of bones and leftover meat for soup. I can actually feed 75-100 people from one turkey by making bone broth and using it well! (You can, too!) Thaw bird, if needed, in a fridge. It may take up to 72 hours to thaw a turkey this size. Or, scale down, if desired!
Brining: This is optional but I highly recommend it. I’ve tried both wet and dry brines and I like dry the best. It’s easier, often cheaper, a lot less messy, and ultimately, more effective. And it has no sugar! The purpose is to season the bird, while holding juices in the muscle for a moist, tender turkey, with gorgeous, crispy, perfectly seasoned skin. Wash your hands a lot during the process! You’ll need:
Coarse grey Celtic sea salt
Freshly ground pepper (black or mixed colors)
Dried thyme (or other herbs as desired)
A pan large enough to hold the turkey loosely. (ie Eco-foil from your local supermarket. Nobody’s perfect!)
Mix together in a small bowl: 4 Tbsp. coarse sea salt with 2 Tbsp. ground pepper and 1 1/2 Tbsp crushed, dried thyme, etc., if desired. (You can also do this with just salt, in which case you may need an extra Tbsp. for coverage.) Don’t use regular table or fine grind salt! It leaves a bitter taste and you have to reduce the amount significantly so it’s hard to cover the whole bird without making it too salty.
For an 18-20 pound, thawed turkey, remove any neck and innards. Reserve them for other uses as needed. I freeze the neck, heart, and gizzard for soup stock or feed them to the dogs, if that’s the sort of thing yours are used to. The liver is great for dirty rice and may be frozen, separately. (Or added to the dog feast!) Pat bird dry, inside and out, with paper towels and place bird in pan. (If using foil pan, place that on top of a sheet tray or similar pan for stability.)
Working in the pan, season the dried inside and outside of the bird well with salt mix. Get down around the wings and legs and thighs. Pat and rub. Leave uncovered or cover loosely with parchment paper. Place in fridge, preferably the old one in the basement, and just leave it alone for up to 3 days. I like 18-24 hours. It will be fine. What you’re aiming for with the timing is that miraculous moment when the skin is crispy, the meat is juicy and tender, and the bird is perfectly salted.
You’re well on the way to the best Thanksgiving feast ever!
On Sunday I’ll be back here with roasting directions for Gorgeous, Juicy (Easy) Turkey.
ps… the dry-brining thing also works really well for a nice, farm raised chicken, should you be looking for something less huge. Just scale everything, including time, down accordingly. This is art, not science!
pps… the art is my Forest of Grandmothers work-in-progress. The particular bit in the photo is where I’ve pasted images of my teachers in the heart wood of the tree. Squint… you may see some folks you know!