Category Archives: Cooking

The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Ever. Period.

I’ve made various recipes over the years yet this one was hands down voted the best by every family member that had some.

The recipe is actually a combination of two separate recipes. I took the brine portion from one, and instead of continuing and cooking it as-is, I picked up another recipe to finish things off. The combination of flavors in the end, along with the moisture retained by brining results in an always moist and very delicious turkey for Thanksgiving. On top of that, its a fairly easy recipe to prepare. So without further adieu…

Brine

  • 1 1/2 gal water
  • 1 1/2c real maple syrup
  • 1c Morton Kosher salt
  • 3/4c brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a brining bag. You may need to use a food grade bucket based on the size of your turkey. Brine the turkey overnight in the refrigerator or in a cooler filled with ice. 

Some recommend boiling everything to help dissolve all ingredients but I don’t bother. If you do boil as your normal brining routine, make sure to cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator before adding the turkey to the brine. I usually end up making 2-3 batches of brine to completely cover the turkey in the bucket. 

Turkey

  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 1 onion – quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Granny Smith apple – quartered
  • 1c butter – at room temperature
  • 2Tbsp rosemary leaves – fresh and chopped
  • 2Tbsp thyme leaves – fresh and chopped
  • 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3c apple juice
  • 1c water
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Remove giblets from turkey cavity, rinse turkey and pat dry.
  3. Place turkey on roasting rack in roasting pan, breast side up.
  4. Salt and pepper inside and outside of the turkey.
  5. In a small bowl, combine butter with 2Tbsp of rosemary and 2Tbsp of thyme.
  6. Spread the butter mixture between the skin and the meat going as far up the breast as possible. Coat the outside of the skin with any leftover butter mixture.
  7. Place quartered apple, onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme sprigs in the cavity of the turkey.
  8. Tie the legs together using kitchen twine
  9. Pour the apple juice and water into the roasting pan and place the turkey in the oven.
  10. Cook the turkey until done (180°F in deepest part of the thigh), basting as needed. Don’t over-baste because opening the door frequently lengthens roasting time. Note: With a brined turkey, it seems like the cook time is 15-20min/lb which is significantly shorter than an unbrined turkey. 
  11. If the turkey browns too quickly, cover with a loose aluminum foil tent.
  12. When the turkey is done, allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

So today I tried an experiment. I took two different recipes and adapted them together. The first was a brine, the second was for the roasting. Here’s what I did in case you want to try it…

Brine:

  • 2 gallons Water
  • 1 gallon Apple Juice
  • 1c Kosher Salt
  • 3/4c Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2c Maple Syrup

Combine in brining bag or unscented trash bag in 5 gallon bucket, cooler, etc. Use your imagination. Just keep the turkey refrigerated and totally covered in liquid during this process. Brine about 12 hours or overnight.

Once done brining, pat the turkey dry and continue with this roasting recipe:

  • 1c butter (room temp)
  • 2T Rosemary
  • 2T Thyme
  • 1 Onion (quartered)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple (quartered)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 6 sprigs of Rosemary
  • 6 Sprigs of Thyme
  • 3c Apple Juice
  • 1c Water

Combine butter, rosemary and thyme together and rub under turkey skin. Rub any leftover butter mix all over turkey. Insert onion, apple, garlic, rosemary and thyme sprigs into turkey cavity and tie legs together. Place in roasting pan along with the apple juice and water. Roast per instructions for turkey size covering with foil once skin browns. Temperature should read 180°F in thickest part of the breast and leg. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let stand 30 minutes before carving. Enjoy!

Melt in your mouth BBQ chicken (on a gas grill)

Photo credit: VirtualErn

I had the opportunity yesterday to grill some chicken leg quarters on my gas grill and everybody raved about how moist they were and that the meat just fell off the bone. I figured I’d share a few tips so that you’ll never have to eat dry, overcooked chicken again.

The key to the whole process is temperature. Low and slow, like BBQ. Ok, not quite, but we’re not going to cook them on high either. Somewhere middle of the road, around medium temperature or about 350°F. Chicken skin tends to melt and flare up around 400° leading to black chicken that nobody wants to eat.

Once you get your grill warmed up, I like to wipe some olive oil on the grates to keep things from sticking. You can also use PAM, but only the kind made to be sprayed on a grill. Place your chicken leg quarters bone side down, with the skin up. Cook them for about 20 minutes, keeping an eye out w/ a squirt bottle of water for flare ups. If you keep your temperature around 350°F, flare ups should be rare. After the first 20 minutes, flip them over and coat the now cooked bottom with a BBQ sauce of your choice. I prefer Sweet Baby Ray’s.

After the second 20 min cooking period, flip them back over so that the skin side is up, coat that in BBQ sauce. Cook them this way for 10 minutes, then flip them over for a final 10 minutes. All this does is help cook the BBQ sauce on a bit and finish cooking the chicken. The temperature is low enough that your BBQ sauce will not burn so don’t worry. Pull the leg quarters off the grill and let them rest for a few minutes on a plate then enjoy!

Total cooking time for a 10-14oz chicken leg quarter should be about 60 minutes. You should also double check w/ an instant read thermometer before you pull them off the grill. The meat thermometer should read about 165°F.

The Best Hot Cocoa Recipe Ever

Since its been getting colder recently, I’ve returned to my winter tradition of drinking hot cocoa. You might ask how I have a recipe for this since most people just dump a packet of power in a mug and pour in hot water. If that’s what you’re drinking, there’s a whole new world that only costs a few cents more.

First, what you’ll need:

  • Hot cocoa mix
  • Ice cream (Mint or Vanilla works best)

The process:

  1. Boil water. Make sure it’s nice and hot… boiling, not steaming is preferred.
  2. Empty a packet of hot cocoa mix into the mug then fill halfway with boiling water
  3. Stir hot cocoa so it’s thoroughly dissolved
  4. Add one scoop of ice cream
  5. Top up mug with boiling water
  6. Stir ice cream until completely dissolved (repeatedly dunking ice cream with the spoon is for 30-60 seconds should be sufficient)

What you’re left with is hot cocoa that you can drink almost right away without having to wait for it to cool. The ice cream makes it very creamy and flavors it nicely if you choose something other than vanilla. Ice cream without added ingredients (nuts, fruit, chocolate chunks, etc) works best. If you use mint chocolate chip, you end up with unmelted chocolate chips at the bottom of your mug. Try it once and you’ll be hooked. I guarantee it!