Turkey-Cooking Tips: Thawing, Brining, Gravy, and Stock
As Thanksgiving approaches it’s time to get the kitchen in order. We thought a few refreshers on all things turkey might be useful.
Thawing a Turkey
Be sure to thaw your turkey, which can take one to six days depending on size. Check out this turkey-thawing chart and turkey video:
Brining a Turkey
Brine the bird a day or two ahead of time to increase moisture for a juicier bird. The definition of brining is soaking meat in water or flavorings. Thaw the turkey before brining. In a large pot, add about 1 gallon of water or veggie broth, 1 cup of brown sugar (to promote skin browning), 3 bay leaves, 3 Tbsp. peppercorns, salt, and whatever herbs and spices your tastebuds prefer.
Create your own combination. For example: Add a cup of organic maple syrup for deep fall flavor, or add oranges for a touch of brightness. Heat the brine until the brown sugar and salt dissolve. Once the brine is completely cool, place the turkey in the pot. If needed, add more water to cover the bird. Refrigerate for one or two days.
How to Make Easy Gluten-Free Gravy
Plain turkey is gluten-free and making gluten-free gravy is simple. Make creamy gluten-free gravy from the leftover turkey juices. Pour the drippings from the baking sheet into a cup. Skim off some of the fat. Make a roux by melting butter in a saucepan at medium heat. (What is roux? Roux is equal parts flour and fat cooked together and used as a thickener). Slowly add equal parts rice flour or any gluten-free flour to the butter while stirring until it bubbles. Pour the drippings into the mix and whisk nonstop. Add whipping cream for a smooth and creamy gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until it’s thick and then it’s ready for the gravy boat.
Homemade Turkey Stock Recipe
Recipe courtesy of Organic Valley chef Jason Trahan
1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
Turkey parts—neck, backbone (cut up), and/or wings from a 14-16 lb. bird (you can spatchcock a turkey and use the leftovers from that)
1 large onion diced
1 tsp. salt
3 carrots, large, peeled, and cut into large chunks
3 celery stalks cut into large chunks
4 parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. peppercorns
4 thyme sprigs
10 cups water
Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the turkey parts and onions to the pot, season with kosher salt, and cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 10-12 minutes. Be sure to rotate the turkey and onion while it cooks to prevent burning.
Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer over very low heat for at least two hours (three is even better).
Line a colander with three or four layers of cheesecloth and strain into a large bowl. Discard the solids. Skim the fat from the surface if using immediately, or scrape it from the surface after the stock has chilled.
Divide the stock into smaller containers (quart or pint-size), cover, and refrigerate. Stock will keep in the refrigerator for five to seven days or frozen for three to five months.
If you haven’t found that perfect turkey yet, visit Organic Prairie. Organic Prairie turkeys are raised with the highest animal care standards and we never use antibiotics, added hormones, or harsh pesticides on our farms.
We hope these tips are helpful and wish you the happiest of holidays!