Meet Tom

He's been hiding in our freezer for about 9 months now. We haven't had the chance to cook him. Sunday, we finally got the time.

He's a 6 lb turkey breast. I learned a few things with this one. Thawing for 24 hours in the fridge, like the directions instructed, didn't do squat. On Saturday afternoon, I plunged him into a gallon of brine composed of: 1 cup kosher salt; 1 cup brown sugar; and 1 gallon of liquid composed of water and some leftover apple cider. I mixed this until the salt and sugar dissolved and plunged Tom in. I left him sitting at room temperature for the rest of the day indoors. The temperature of the solution was never greater than 45F (stored indoors) and by the end of the day, I could pierce the breast; it was thawed finally. Much more effective than the fridge. I placed the pot outside (ca. 30-40F) overnight and let it come to 50F the next day (by bringing it indoors) before blotting it dry.

I rubbed the bird (I would've called it Tom in this case but I'm just not that secure) with olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper and finished it off with a slather of butter. It was 50F outside and not windy; ideal conditions for 'cue. I tossed him on my Weber for a good dose of indirect cooking. I used lump charcoal and opened 1 and 1/2 vents on the bottom and full open on the top vent which afforded a dome temperature of about 350 throughout the cooking. I was shooting for 170F internal; got it in two hours. Since it was brined, I let it go longer (a total of about 3 hours, very little maintenance). The image was taken when I pulled Tom off and tented him with foil for a full 2 hours (that large mass has great heat capacity) and got ready for the remaining feast.

I strained the drippings (collected in a foil pan below) and made a killer gravy with it. Trish made the rest. Fried green tomatoes, mashed russets and we feasted with a cheapo cabernet. I won't even admit the brand. Franky ate a bit of turkey too.

Things I wanted to remember
1. Brining for a full day did not make the meat taste salty.
2. Brining also facilitated the thawing much better than the fridge at a safe temperature (bacteria-wise).
3. The meat was so tender I think I could've cooked it much longer with no fear of drying out.
4. I used lump charcoal and added no fresh wood chips for smoke flavor; I relied on the native wood used to make the lump. In this particular case, it didn't have much smokiness. For turkey, that suited us just fine. But it's interesting. Each brand of lump has it's own native flavor. Applying smoke by smoldering fresh wood is heavy handed and should be used cautiously. Too much smoke isn't good.


Anonymous said...

*drool* If I offer to bring a decent cab over, do I get some turkey? :)


Dave said...

Hey AL.

Brining is awesome! The meat was so tender. I'll try to put together a doggie bag.