Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brined Turkey and Sweet Corn Bread Pudding


This year was my first year cooking a Thanksgiving dinner. Albeit, there were just three people in attendance, but I still went all out. The menu consisted of a Brined Roasted Turkey Breast, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, Scalloped Potatoes, Buttered Peas, Roasted Carrots, Spinach Artichoke Dip, and Homemade Bread. Dessert was the rich NY Style Cheesecake in the post before, and a traditional Pumpkin Pie. There are two recipes in this post - Turkey Brine and Alton Brown's Sweet Corn Bread Pudding, which makes a great stuffing type side dish. Turkey is front and center in the photo above, and the Corn Bread Pudding is in the background in the cast-iron skillet.

TURKEY BRINE
Several years ago my Mom started brining her Thanksgiving turkeys and they were moist, tender, and flavorful every single time. So, I decided to brine my turkey to achieve the same results. The brine itself was very easy; water, chicken broth, salt, sugar, and spices. The trick is finding out how much liquid you need to add, and that is based in part on how large your turkey is, and how large your brining vessel is. I chose to brine my turkey in a large oversized stock pot. My Turkey was an 8lb bone-in turkey breast, (it's important not to buy a self-basting turkey for this!). The day that I wanted to make the brine, I placed my turkey in the stock pot and measured out how much liquid I could safely fit in the pot without over-flowing. This helped me plan the right ratio of water to stock and salt/sugar. Fortunately, my Mom's recipe called for the exact amount of liquid I could fit into my stock pot with the turkey inside.

Here's my Mom's recipe as I prepared it. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 gallon chicken broth (vegetable broth is fine as well)
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of your favorite herbs; rosemary, sage, thyme. (I used a combination of fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and dried poultry seasoning)
  • 1 gallon of ice water
Directions:
PREPARING THE BRINE
  1. In a large stock pot combine the chicken broth, salt, sugar and herbs. Bring to a boil and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Wash and dry your turkey, making sure the innards are removed. Place turkey in cooled brine, add the remaining 1 gallon of ice-water. If stock pot isn't large enough for your brine + turkey, transfer to a lined 5-gallon bucket. Be sure to use food-grade supplies for this (do not use trash bags to line your bucket).
  3. Place your stock pot in the refrigerator or cold location overnight; approximately 12-14 hours.

ROASTING THE TURKEY
  1. Remove turkey from the brine and thoroughly rinse. For crispy skin, let the turkey sit in the refrigerator 6-10 hours before roasting, to allow the turkey to dry.
  2. When ready to roast, place turkey in roasting pan on top of any aromatics you wish; I used garlic and onion, tucking fresh thyme, rosemary and sage under and inside the turkey. I sprinkled the top of the turkey with fresh thyme leaves.
  3. Brush turkey with olive oil all over. No need to add salt due to the brine.
  4. Bake the turkey on 325 - 350 for approximately 1.5 - 2 hours, until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees. Remove turkey from oven, as the turkey will continue to cook.
  5. Let the turkey rest for 10 minutes before carving!

SWEET CORN BREAD PUDDING

I was looking for a corn recipe to serve at Thanksgiving when I came across this sweet corn bread pudding recipe on foodnetwork.com. I wasn't totally sure what to expect, but reading the reviews it sounded like this was less of a pudding and more like a bread or stuffing. I figured that if it were stuffing like, it knocked out two birds with one stone; so, I gave it a whirl and man, am I glad I did! The results were phenomenal and the recipe was so easy to make. There was a great corn flavor, light, fluffy, yet moist bread stuffing texture, and was a nice complement to the turkey and other dishes at Thanksgiving. Plus, it made for really tasty leftovers.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 onion, diced fine
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 (15-ounce) can creamed style sweet corn
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, whole grain, stone ground
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cubed French bread

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sweat onions with butter and herbs in an oven safe skillet until translucent.
  3. Combine corn, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add cubed bread and fold to combine. Pour batter into skillet, right on top of the onion mixture. Bake 50 minutes, or until set. Cool slightly before serving.
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