I follow Food Network on Facebook, and last Friday, they posted something that gave me a bit of concern, especially for younger cooks or even older cooks who are just now looking into the possibility of cooking the big bird for the first time. I know that feeling all too well. I’ve been there myself, and I suspect many of you have been there, too. I just hate to see anyone stress for no reason over something like this, so I would like to share some helpful information about a particular point they attempted to make on Friday.
In what I believe was an honest attempt to help those who are looking to cook a turkey for the first time, or perhaps cook a better turkey for the first time, someone at Food Network posted a “top ten” list of things *not* to do. Here is a quote of the first item on their list.
Turkey Taboos: 10 things NOT to do this Thanksgiving
1. Use a frozen turkey
While I understand that the taste of a fresh turkey is very likely a fabulous thing, the vast majority of people around this country do not have access to purchase a fresh turkey. And even if they do have a turkey farm nearby, the cost is often quite expensive, sometimes close to $100 for a fresh bird of any size! So, for item #1 on this list of things to not do in preparing a turkey, I think this needs to be considered in the real world where most of us live and certainly not list it as a “taboo.” Good grief! “smh” By the many comments on their post that basically said the same thing I’ve shared, I’m in the majority of folks that disagree with their take on item #1, too.
There is absolutely nothing wrong or bad in preparing a turkey that was first frozen. Let’s let one of Food Network’s own explain this little fact further.
One of Food Network’s most popular, long-time personalities and one of their best chefs, in my opinion, is Alton Brown and his long-running show is Good Eats. I have always enjoyed watching his show over the years because he often shares the science behind his preparation method in an entertaining way. I have also shared here on a couple of occasions that I only use Alton Brown’s turkey preparation recipe when cooking our bird for the holidays because it produces the best turkey I’ve ever eaten.
Alton is on record in the following video (from about five years ago) about fresh vs. frozen turkeys, and I hope that by sharing his video, perhaps a few cooks this year will not waste their time and money in search of a fresh turkey. Hubby and I fell into that trap ourselves a few years ago, and we ended up just purchasing a frozen bird anyway.
Perhaps Food Network should have consulted with one of their most popular chefs before posting item #1 on their list?
And while we’re talking turkey today, here is another great video by Alton that is both entertaining and informative. This is the exact process that I use to prepare our bird. The turkey sits in the brine overnight prior to cooking the next morning, and we put the bucket either in our spare refrigerator or outside with a cover over it on our patio table, as our overnight temperature is often pretty much perfect for this process in late November and December. If the temperature outside is warmer where you live, you might just keep it in your refrigerator overnight in a brining bag or keep it in a brining bag in a well iced cooler overnight. As Alton mentions in the video, the salt concentration will also help to keep bacteria formation down during the brining process, so don’t skimp on the salt that is listed in the recipe. This is one of his classic videos and a spoof on Mystery (Food) Science Theater.
Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, also follows this same basic procedure, too. I watched a rerun of one of her earlier Thanksgiving shows on Saturday morning to see how similar her turkey preparation is to Alton Brown’s method, although she basted her turkey every 30 minutes while cooking. My experience with Alton’s recipe is that basting really is not necessary because the bird is so moist without it. No sense making this harder than it needs to be.
Ree’s holiday cookbook is absolutely fabulous, and her Thanksgiving recipes in the book are worth the price of the whole book. Best. Mashed. Potatoes. Ever! I received my cookbook as a thank-you gift from a sweet friend last year, and while I cannot eat these types of foods day in and day out, these recipes are truly wonderful for all of the holidays listed in the book.
Brining is the key, even for a properly thawed frozen turkey. You may also read elsewhere to not brine anything but a fresh turkey. Feel free to just ignore those comments. Just rinse the bird *very well* for several minutes after the brining process. Ree rinses her turkey, then puts it in a separate bucket of cold water for 15 minutes to help rinse away as much of the salt as possible. After rinsing, just pat the turkey very dry before putting it in the oven. The result will be a great entrée that is very moist and flavorful, as long as Alton’s directions are followed according to the recipe at the link below. Don’t forget the covered rest time of 15 minutes after baking, which is important. Seriously, this is absolutely the best turkey we’ve ever had.
There is a good reason why this particular recipe remains one of the top recipes at Food Network’s site year after year. 😉
To see some of my previous detailed posts on preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, just check out the links below. I’ve noticed that some folks have already been doing just that, and I hope my information is helpful to you!