I am always honoured when people ask me to cook for their parties... and when such cooking opportunity presents itself, like the saying, I grab on to it and don't let go...
I was asked to roast a turkey for a birthday party and I think the timing couldn't be more appropriate as the Season's Eatings is upon us and for my American friends, Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner...
I did not grow up eating turkey in Indonesia. Indonesian turkeys are often prized as "show birds", not for eating. I had my first turkey when I lived in the States where I also celebrated my first Thanksgiving over ten years ago now... and it's such a great tradition (what is not to like about a day full of eating?), I carry on celebrating it every year. I get some questions about roasting turkey from Indonesian friends, so I hope this post would help.
Here's the truth: brining works! and I confess I used to think brining is just a waste of time. But, I gave it a go a couple of years ago and I am a convert. Brining does make a difference. It ensures the turkey is juicy and so tender... and the great thing is, the prep takes no time and effort. Last Christmas I used a more elaborate brine with herbs and spices and all things Chrismassy a la Nigella. But, the brine I most often use is just a simple salt water solution. The ratio is 60 grams of salt for every litre of water. And you don't need an instruction on pouring salt to a bucketful of water...
Brine the turkey overnight in the fridge. The next day, remove the turkey from the liquid and pat dry with kitchen towel. The turkey is seated inside a roasting tin, on a platform of celery sticks and carrots which will add to juices for the gravy later. I smeared the turkey all over with softened butter, over and under the skin; and I put lemon halves, garlic cloves and fresh thyme inside the cavity.
Preheat the oven to highest heat and roast the turkey for 15-20 minutes to get the colour going... then I turned it down to 180 C and cook for a further 30 minutes per kilo.
I don't own a meat thermometer, but it's pretty easy to tell if the turkey is fully cooked. I use the jiggling the leg method, which means if the legs (drumsticks) jiggle easily, well, it's cooked. Also the juices should run clear when pierced with a fork or knife at the base of the legs and thighs.
Let the turkey rest under a blanket of foil to let all the juices go back to the centre, even though it is very tempting to eat it straight away... Now, the carving of the bird.... I dread this task every time because I am a terrible carver, I admit. So, you shouldn't really be getting carving advice from me. You need Martha Stewart.
Anyway, back to the turkey I cooked for the party as pictured above... it was a huge success and all the compliments are music to my ears. Come on, you know you love the compliments too :)
American readers and friends, how will you cook your turkey this Thanksgiving day? and do you brine your turkey?
Have a great day!