The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal is often also the focal point of food publications this time of year. The stress of Turkey Day is often caused by it’s namesake, and thus food magazines often offer up high-gloss food porn to cure anxiety around the L-tryptophan laced, food-coma-inducing highlight of the holiday. Here at Grumpy, we decided to put the recipes served up on the magazines’ 8.5″ x 11″ platter. We tested the cover recipes from Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, and the sadly deceased Gourmet. We cooked an approximately 10lb. turkey for each recipe, and followed the instructions exactly (with slight modifications on the time seeing as our turkeys were smaller). Here are the results:
This turkey was an expected favorite that turned out to have a few issues. One of the main ones being: if you are using a pop-up timer, be careful to avoid getting any glaze on or near it, as it may prevent the timer from popping. The glaze is good, but may need to reduce a bit more than the recipe indicates. The turkey comes out with a beautiful, crispy skin, however if you leave the turkey in for even a few minutes too long, the glaze begins to burn, which leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. So once the glaze goes on, watch the turkey closely to ensure it crisps, but does not burn. Right out of the oven, this turkey was juicy, and if you got a piece with skin, it was particularly savory. Once it sat, however, the turkey became dry, and pieces without the skin didn’t get the flavors of the apple and onion that it was stuffed with.
I also had high hopes for this turkey, and found a few major issues with both in process and in product. Again, the turkey was delicious directly out of the oven, however after a few minutes of sitting (after the 30 minutes of cool time) once the turkey had been cut, the meat was quick to dry out. The meat retained a bit more moisture than the previous turkey, and had a bit more of the onion and Clementine flavor to it. However the skin did not get as crispy as I would have liked (or as is shown in the photo) and overall the result is not necessarily worth the effort to put all of the various components of this one together. It was still very tasty, mildly juicy, and it was fun to make (albeit a bit complex and harried for Thanksgiving Day). Just not what I would expect on my table as the main dish of the holiday.
I did not expect this recipe to be my favorite, since my family and I have never brined our turkey before, and my mom was never a huge fan. I was pleasantly surprised to find that 18 hours or so in a bath of coriander seeds, mustard seed, fennel, bay leaves, salt and sugar yielded the juiciest, most flavorful turkey of the bunch. Not only did the meat retain more of the flavors involved in the cooking process, but those elements enhanced the taste of the meat itself. This was the most succulent turkey in the bunch. The recipe was very simple to follow, and the result was a crisp-skinned aromatic centerpiece that I would be proud to serve at any holiday meal. The gravy in this recipe was also our favorite. Even though it did not feature homemade turkey stock like the other recipes, the overall flavor (I think it’s the bread that does it) is hearty, salty, and just the right amount of creamy. This one got all the votes, from all six of the people living in my house.
The brine was one of my favorite parts of this recipe! Here are some pictures of the beautiful brine: