IMPORTANT! Left out when posted that KillaGrilla put one inch of water in the foil pan before he started. Otherwise, flames, mayhem!
Another Thanksgiving is under our loosened belts. All went surprisingly smoothly, given the possibilities for disasters both personal and culinary. I woke up this morning thinking about my two favorite parts of the menu which were the Grillmeister’s turkey and our youngest daughter’s muffins and braided egg bread.
That damned difficult sweetpotato layer cake was not worth repeating, but the 40-some-year-old broccoli-cauliflower salad recipe was a hit all over again as was our friend Beth’s fruit dish that she’d forgotten. Ninety-year-old Greataunt Vera brought her congealed salad and sweet potato souffle with the crunchy top.
Some people live in scrapbooks — I eat from one although I did try a new double cranberry-orange relish with almost no sugar and a new green bean-garlic-dried cranberry-walnut salad. I went back to a 45-year-old Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook for our schnitz (dried apple) pie which was also a hit. But He Who Does At Least Half Our Grocery Shopping brought home Blue Bunny frozen yogurt which is as good as reduced-fat ice cream (the first I’ve tasted) so we had frozen vanilla yogurt on that pie.
New and old — people and food. We went from 6 years to 92 with the 20-year-old beauty improvising some incredibly moist corn muffins with added corn (frozen from our garden) and pepper relish (also from our garden and kitchen). The 6-year-old brought styrofoam plate turkeys he’d made for all, and I will save mine with the permanent Thanksgiving decor.
We paid $1.70-something per pound of our fresh turkey because I wanted to brine it (not eat what the processor injected). So the night before, when we got home from seeing “Puss ‘n Boots,” I put into my larger canning kettle 1 gallon broth (a mixture of vegetable and chicken), 1 gallon cold water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries and 1-1/2 teaspoons candied ginger bits. The on-line recipe said to cook it to dissolve the salt and sugar, but I just stirred until I felt no grit at the end of my wooden spoon.
We put in the 16-pound (more or less) turkey so the breast was well-submerged and the brining liquid just covered the whole bird, clapped the lid on the kettle and refrigerated everything. (This is probably the biggest challenge — making room for this in the Thanksgiving Eve fridge!)
Beth’s late father was actually the inspiration for our grilling the Thanksgiving turkey (and freeing up the kitchen oven). He grilled everything, Beth says, and from him, her former husband picked up the habit. This is the second one the Grillmeister has done, and they are perfection.
He removes the turkey from the brine when he starts the fire — 3-1/2 hours before we want the turkey on a platter and under foil to redistribute those wonderful juices for 30 minutes before carving.
He rinsed the turkey inside and out, patted it dry, tied drumsticks and wings together with baling twine and sprayed the whole bird with cooking spray. That’s it — the total pre-grill fancifacation. He had a pretty hot charcoal fire going on one side of the grill and a cheap foil cake pan the size of the turkey under the turkey on the other side. Every 30 to 60 minutes he spread coals from the fire around the edges of that foil pan and added more charcoal to the actual fire. Other times, of course, the grill lid was closed, the air vent and chimney open, moving heat from the fire to the turkey and up the flue.
At the 3-hour point he checked the temperature, and it was right at 165 degrees Fahrenheit which is when you want to move it to the cutting board. Could not be easier or juicier or more tender. Try one for Christmas dinner.