December 24, 1999
Fezzik really is a good alarm clock. He got us up at 7:30, and I went with John and the two of us carefully picked the turkey out of the stock pot and flipped it onto it's head rather than its butt into the brine. We covered it and put it back out in the garage and I went back to sleep for a while. When I got up, I was hungry, so I went and made scones and put dried blueberries in them because I had those left over from the fruitcake and I had many more of them than anything else.
First thing after breakfast I started on the prep for the turkey. Vegetables for the bottom of the roasting pan to be sure that the bird didn't boil in its own juices. Then more veggies for the interior that were mildly steamed in the microwave to allow their aromatic natures out and a stick of cinnamon as well. We pulled Big Bird from its pot and then rinsed it off in an impeccably clean sink. The bird was dried off and then wrestled into its vegetable lined pan and from there onto my sturdy baking sheet. Everything was disinfected then, and I then stuffed the bird with the prepped things, rubbed it down with canola oil, fitted an aluminum sleeve to the breast, and then we set the oven to 500 degrees. Thirty minutes in the scorching hot oven, completely uncovered, and then I turned the heat down and put the foil on. From there it was just a matter of watching it brown in the oven with the oven light on.
That was actually the point of the whole brine exercise, to make it so that I didn't have to bother actually basting the bird. The liquid from the brine should take care of it and the meat should have so much moisture in it that it would do it all for me. I guess that's the basis of Butterballs and other injected turkeys. At least this way I knew exactly what went into the bird.
I did find, however, that the brine had almost worked too well. The turkey, after several hours, was swimming in its own juices. I had to get John to pull the whole thing out of the oven just so I could pull off all the juices in the pan, so that it wouldn't end up boiling the bird. It worked really well, too, and there were plenty of juices from all that to make quite a lot of really good gravy.
In the midst of the roasting, I put the fruit with the sugar, butter, apple juice, spices and heat. I think that I lost volume and texture, last time, from adding the leavening to a hot mixture, so this time I was going to be absolutely sure that it would be cold. So I made the mixture around noon, knowing there was no way to get into the oven until the bird was done. Eventhough I mixed up all the dry ingredients, I couldn't put them all together until just before baking.
John went out to run some errands and get all the last things we needed, including all the drinks for tomorrow. He'd made two batches of beer, but there were plenty of kids and adults that weren't going to drink anything alcoholic, so we got stuff for them as well. Also, in the evening, he went to a McDonalds and got an ice chest full of ice. It turns out that any McDonalds will give you ice chests filled with ice if you ask, it seems to be some kind of community service they do, and it's very, very nice when we need drinkable party ice. No need to pay for it so long as one has enough guts to just ask them for it. John did that after pulling the turkey out of the oven, around 5:30 p.m. It went in around 11 a.m.. Twenty five pound of turkey really did take about six and a half hours before the legs were loose enough to nearly come off.
So while he was gone, I mixed and baked my fruitcakes. They turned out taller than the other batch, and they felt minorly different. I think that this batch is going to be better. We'll see, though, to the long term affects.
When he got back and the fruitcakes were done and cooling, I turned my attention to the sitting bird. It was cool enough to handle, now and I just used my chef's knife to do the de-jointing and carving rather than the electric or the really long carving knife. My chef's knife is very sharp and very clever and has the good point for the really tight spaces. So it worked really well, and soon the turkey platter was completely covered with slices and slices and slices of turkey. An extra abundance of white meat, and several good slabs of tender, juicy dark meat. We picked bits off as we cut and ate as we worked. So dinner turned out to mostly be the turkey meat and some re-heated sushi rice balls I still had in the fridge. The starch helped my stomach a bit with the pure protein, and I felt better with that.
The platter was then covered with three layers of plastic and placed in the area of honor that the turkey had taken when it was raw. Twenty five pounds of bird really translates into a whole lot of meat. I think that this is going to be plenty for tomorrow.