thanks and giving

it's finally here!! and this year we are feeling exceptionally thankful:

for our safety, our health and happiness. for new opportunities. for new adventures. for friends and family near and far, and the line that blurs them together. for our future. we're staring down the barrel of more awesomeness and we can't wait to see what the next 365 days bring. and finally to those of you who have made this year so memorable, we're thankful for you all today and everyday.

the thankfulness fest menu 2014 is as follows:

cranberry butter brined turkey (see below!)
classic mashed potatoes
old fashioned apple pie
pumpkin meringue pie

if you don't brine your thanksgiving turkey, please please please try it out! brining ensures more moisture in your meat by hydrating it prior to cooking- a must for something like a big, fat thanksgiving turkey with a long bake time. 

dry brine mix | ingredients |

1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 tablespoons dried sage
2 tablespoons peppercorns
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried bay leaves

remaining brine | ingredients |
bottle of white wine
bottle of apple cider (or apple juice)
bottle of cranberry juice
[ and your turkey of course ]

cranberry herb compound butter | ingredients |
1 cup fresh cranberries, pureed or finely chopped
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, freshly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

cavity of the turkey | ingredients |
this is really up to you, suggestions include carrots, apples, onion, oranges and herbs!
2 cups of chicken broth or water (for baking)

| method |

the evening before thanksgiving prepare your brine by boiling your dry brine mix in 4 cups of water. once the salt and sugars have dissolved, remove from heat and let cool off. place your turkey in a lined container large enough to submerge the turkey (also PLEASE do yourself a favor and check that your fridge can accommodate your brining container prior to beginning.)

pour your white wine, apple cider, cranberry juice and cooled brine mix on top of your turkey bird. if your bird is still not fully submerged, add cold water (or more juice, or chicken broth, your choice!) until it is completely covered. at this point, i tossed in some extras i had lying around (fresh cranberries, sliced oranges, apples, a sliced onion, a few sprigs of herbs, etc.) you can follow suit if you wish, but this is totally optional. if anything it's more for aesthetics. once your turkey is submerged in your brine- go ahead and refrigerate until ready to cook.

on thanksgiving day, remove your turkey from the brine and discard the brine and everything remaining in your bucket. place your turkey in a roasting pan (with the wings tucked under and back), and fill the pan with 2 cups chicken broth or water. (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan, but not so much that your turkey is floating.) gently pat the turkey dry with a paper towel, this will ensure that the skin of the turkey will crisp up nice and brown in the oven, something it cannot achieve when it's still saturated in brine.

while your oven preheats (to 325F), prepare your cranberry herb compound butter by gently mixing all of the ingredients into the softened butter. 

when ready, take the butter and using your fingers butter the outside of your turkey (under, and then over the skin!) and inside the cavity of the turkey as well. be careful not to rip the skin as you are applying the butter- you don't want all of the juicy goodness to leak out! once your turkey has been fully buttered, stuff the cavity as desired. i like to forgo stuffing inside the turkey, as the bread can suck up internal turkey moisture, possibly leaving your turkey a little dry. this year we chose to stuff with apples, carrots, onion, oranges and herbs.

bake your turkey at 325F for 25 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. if while baking, parts of your turkey are beginning to brown too much, tent with foil to protect them.

let the bird rest for 20 minutes before carving and serving. (yes, i know it's a painful 20 minutes but it's very necessesary), then enjoy! 

happy thanksgiving to all!

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