Saturday, December 26, 2009
Brining the Bird, or, as it turned out:
My goose was cooked.
Well, this was a new experience for me and one that will go down in the annals of holiday memories that REALLY STAND OUT.
This fall, I read an article about a process called brining, wherein you boil up a heavily salted liquid concoction that contains many different flavorings and variables, and proceed to soak the turkey in said concoction overnight.
This brine will turn that dry bird into a juicy, aromatic, savory turkey and make the cook achieve rock star status in the minds of her guests. Mind you, the article did not promise any of this, but I could read between the lines. The dirty little secret among homemakers is that we crave fame and honor now among family, our children's friends, and the neighborhood in general, and after death, we wish to become legends. We will search high and low for some esoteric ingredient, stay up till all hours of the night, spend way too much money on sewing and crafting supplies, and put ourselves through rigors that would cause a Navy Seal to ask for a desk job, all to achieve a bit of praise now, and to ensure that years after we are gone someone will be reminiscing about the wonderful way we cooked this, or baked that, or did things this way and it was the best way.
Usually these efforts backfire, at least for me, and often people end up remembering something else, something that makes them laugh out loud. Like when my formerly widowed father brought his new wife to my house for Easter dinner, and after preparing a repast fit for royalty, making the house presentable and the children looking adorable, all my new stepmother could remember was that at 3 pm when they rang the bell, I answered the door in my pajamas.
Oh come on, what about the glorious ham, the homemade manicotti? Long forgotten, I assure you. She laughs every time she tells that story, which is quite often.
So when I read about this brining technique, I thought about it, and about how a 22 pound turkey is not the easiest thing to maneuver around, and how it would require extra steps and extra work on top of a whole lot of work already, and in spite of that, or probably because of that, I decided to GO FOR IT!
I will spare you the details of how it happened, but suffice it to say that a couple of hours later, in attempting to reposition the baking bag holding the 22 lb. bird and two gallons of salty, sugary, fruit-floating liquid, the turkey and the broken bag ended up in my lap, and from my waist down to my shoes, and over the river and through the woods and under the refrigerator, went the brine.
Well, things could have been worse, and almost were. I ran into the bathroom and took off my jeans (now pickled pants), leaving me presentable from the front because I was wearing a bib apron, but quite an unwelcome sight from the back. Which is the part that was facing my adult son's bedroom door. And he was in there. And thank God, I realized it before he opened the door to the sight of the ol' harvest moon clad in tighty whities, rising there in the doorway. He never would have gotten over that, and I am not sure what the trauma would have done to him.
Now a sensible person would dissolve into tears, leave the whole mess, get tidied up and go Christmas shopping, but not me. I did tidy up, but went straight back at it, finally getting bird, brine, fruit et al into a 20 quart stock pot, and even made it fit into the fridge, and you know what? That was some tasty turkey. And this story, well, it may just be the stuff (or stuffing) of legends.