It has taken forever to get this post started, let alone finished!
Our holiday season was filled with family, family, more family and lots of eating. An early family dinner on December the 16 started the festivities, Christmas Eve family lunch, family lunch on the 27th as well as dinner, and the last family dinner on the 28th of December. There were also plans for a Christmas Day family lunch but the weather was terrible and it was cancelled.
With so many dinners we were spoiled in that we only had to make squash & yams for the first dinner, bring a package of dinner rolls to the second, cook a turkey for the 3rd (but nothing else), do a set it and forget it slow cooker meal for one of them and the last one was taken care of by going out to a restaurant.
It was a wonderful way to see many members of our families, enjoy many meals, and avoid excessive fatigue from overdoing it.
I was able to take a few photos of the food we cooked over the holidays which included: a brined and roasted turkey, braised short ribs, soup, egg salad sandwiches and chickpea salad sandwiches.
This post will include the roasted turkey and the soup.
Our Turkey in the brine….
An 18 Pound Turkey from The Roost (www.facebook.com/RoostFarmer/).
We set it in a 5-gallon bucket with 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of brown sugar (the salt and sugar were dissolved in hot water first and then diluted with cold water), black peppercorns, bay leaves, lemons, limes, parsley and, thyme.
After 18 hours we removed it from the brine, rinsed it, stuffed it and roasted it in a non-convection oven. It was a big bird and we made the mistake of putting a lid on it without allowing enough space around it. When we took a look the first time, we ended up ripping the skin. We just added a little butter to the exposed meat and turned the temperature down to 300 degrees.
Our Roasted Turkey
The stuffing was bread, pecans, dried cranberries, green onions, dried parsley, thyme and summer savoury leaves. We tried to copy a stuffing we enjoyed at my sister’s house on the 24th – it was the first of its kind we’d tried and it was delicious!
This turkey was make-ahead for a dinner at Nana’s house (her 90th birthday on the 27th!) this is why we decided to brine our turkey this year. After removing the stuffing and, letting it cool slightly we sliced it and packed it up to travel well the next day. It only took a reheating in the oven with a little water in the pan and it was so moist and tasty! I didn’t feel like I was eating ‘day old’ turkey at all.
The Soup Base
Time and Patience are two qualities that continue to pay off when it comes to making the base for my soups. I would call it broth, but it is much too thick.
I cooked the turkey on the 26th of December and on the 29th I baked the bones with an onion, a drizzle of olive oil and a few splashes of apple cider vinegar. (I use vinegar to present an acid to help bones leach minerals). After 1/2 an hr I added water to cover and simmered them for 12 hrs, adding water every 30 minutes or so to keep the bones submerged. Keep in mind these bones were already cooked for 3 hrs on the 26th, baked for another 30 minutes and then simmered for 12 hrs for a total of 15.5 hrs. After cooking, the bones/meat were removed, the liquid drained through a fine mesh strainer and cooled quickly in an ice bath. Once cooled it was strained through a nut milk bag to remove all debris (we’re both really picky and we could be going overboard, but there are no ‘unquestionable’ little bits in our soups). This soup base in the pictures above looks like gravy!
Time and Patience are qualities that I have, but the quality of the bones are very important when it comes to getting the result I was able to achieve. Purchasing a good quality bird from a local producer is extremely encouraged.
Free range poultry runs around and in comparison to conventional poultry (who as far as I know just sit around all day), I believe that just like humans who exercise vs being sedentary, those that exercise have higher bone densities.
First celery and onion were sweated in a large pot
Next, the base was added…
Next, we added potatoes, carrots, bay leaves, diced garlic, dried parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and any meat that came off the bones after being simmered (a good amount from the looks of it!)
And cooked until it was veggies were tender-soft.
This soup would need to be consumed within 3 days as the meat had been cooked for a few days already.
As a rule of thumb, I consume most foods in 1 week or less. Also, because there were many multiple steps, I was and I encourage you also to be very mindful of what your hands touch and wash them multiple times when making something like this.
You never know if and when someone might stop by during the holidays and prevention of foodborne illness is extremely important 🙂
We hope you all had wonderful holidays this year and able to be near your nearest and dearest.