Let’s Talk Turkey

If you drive through the country, you’ll see the fields are drying out and turning gold. Flocks of honking geese are flying South. There is a smattering of leaves on the ground, and early morning chores require a sweatshirt now. Fall is arriving and the meat chickens are gone from the pasture, leaving just the Gobblers. After our recent predator issues (we lost one and two were injured), we moved them up into the yard where they will be safer, under a yard light.

A few years ago, I decided to try my hand at brining our Thanksgiving Turkey. The Pioneer Woman recipe was what I decided on, and I have used it ever since. It’s amazing, the difference that brining meat can make when it comes to flavor and tenderness. A pastured Turkey has had a good amount of exercise in its life, and its muscles are well developed. It turns out best when brined or slow roasted (I do both). Here is my Thanksgiving Turkey recipe and routine:

Monday evening, 7 pm - place frozen turkey in a bucket of cold water in the garage, to thaw.

Tuesday evening, 7 pm - take turkey out of water and place in brine.

Brine Recipe (from the Pioneer Woman, Rene Drummond)

  • 3 cups apple juice or cider

  • 2 gallons water

  • 4 sprigs fresh Rosemary

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt

  • 2 cups brown sugar

  • 3 Tbsp peppercorns

  • 5 Bay leaves

  • peels of 3 oranges

    Combine all ingredients in a stockpot, boil until salt is dissolved and it is aromatic. Let it cool (set it in the garage, covered, or in the fridge if you need to), and once it’s cool, pour it in with your bird in a bucket or a brining bag. If you are using a brining bag, put the bird breast down, and tomorrow at noon, flip it over.

    If you like the help of pictures, see original recipe here.

Wednesday evening, 7 pm - rinse off turkey and place in roaster at 350 degrees, for one hour. At 8 pm, turn down to 225 degrees.

Thursday morning, 6 am - check the temp of the turkey in the thigh and breast. Adjust temp down to 200 if it’s already done, or up to 300-350 if it’s not close yet.

Thursday, 11 am - remove turkey from roaster and let rest 30 minutes under tinfoil. While it’s resting, make gravy from juices. At 11:30, start to carve. Place meat on a covered platter and by noon, you will be eating your delicious, juicy turkey.

Don’t throw out that turkey carcass though! Pop it in your fridge or freezer to make bone broth later. Or, save yourself some dishes and throw it right back in the roaster, cover it with water, add a Tablespoon of ACV for every 8 cups of water that you added. Feel free to throw in an onion and a couple of bay leaves or any leftover aromatics that you have. Turn it on to 190 degrees and let it simmer until noon the next day. Strain the broth, and can or freeze it.

We have 2 turkeys available yet, both for October 26th processing. They will need to be picked up fresh from the farm between 1 and 2 pm that day. They will weigh 16-20 pounds and cost $4/lb (each bird includes feet, neck and giblets). Text me (507-621-1356) if you would like one!

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