Hey there! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday. This Thanksgiving was mellow, but not without a bit of drama surrounding the turkey. It’s become a running joke in my family the past few years: procuring the turkey hasn’t been simple in a long time. There’s always some drama around the bird. This year was no different.
I’m very particular about the type of bird I want. I want an organic, or at least free range bird that has been fed a high quality diet, and is humanely treated both in life, and at the end of its life. In fact, I feel quite strongly that any meat we eat needs to meet these standards, which is why I don’t eat meat nearly as often as before. In this country, sourcing meat that meets a high standard is not always easy, nor affordable. So if you’re committed to eating this way, more than likely you’ll end up eating less meat by default, because high quality meat can get expensive fast.
Excuse me while I step down from my soapbox; that’s another topic for another day. 😉
Well, back to this year’s bird. This year we ordered it from a restaurant wholesale supplier who specializes in free range, halal birds. The halal butchering process is a very clean, precise process that minimizes the pain to the animal. Some proponents claim the process is painless. For more info, click here. Several prayers are said as a blessing before the sacrifice.
As for our halal birds, the vendor took the order, then returned to the neighborhood a few days later, and proceeded to try to sell us three birds that were 20-plus pounds EACH, instead of ONE bird at 14-16 pound. Pardon me, but of course this did not fly. I’m not trying to feed the entire building, you know!
When the real bird finally did arrive, at the correct weight and all, its neck and head had yet to be removed. It was a very “A Christmas Story” moment.
Alas, I brined it, cooked it (once the head and neck were removed, that is), and it turned out great. Very crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside. The color was gorgeous–nice and browned with a hint of red. I wish I had a pic, but in another tidbit of drama, the camera went kaput. So I’ll tell you what spices I used in the rub and brine. And you can wish me better luck next year. Feel free to use this method for any poultry you might choose to roast.
Middle Eastern Style Turkey
Procure 1 turkey, 14-16 pounds.
This year’s brine was super simple: a cup of apple cider, some sugar, and some salt. I’d say about 2/3 a cup of sugar, and a full cup of salt. Put bird in an icewater bath to which salt, sugar, and cider have been added and mixed in. (I used a cooler to keep the bird at a safe, cold temperature). Marinate overnight, making sure it is completely submerged.
Spice Rub: Powdered cumin, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, paprika, steak seasoning, cinnamon, and allspice.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees Farenheit. Remove bird from brine. Place in roasting pan on a rack. Pat bird dry. Drizzle olive oil all over the turkey. Rub all surfaces of the bird generously with spice rub.
Place bird in the oven for 30 minutes to brown skin. After 30 minutes, cover the bird loosely with foil, and bump oven temp down to 350. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast, and set the alarm to go off at 160 degrees.
This year it took approximately three-and-a-half hours to fully cook the bird. Your mileage may vary.
Don’t carve it immediately. Let it sit for a half hour to retain that juiciness!
Gobble gobble 😉