The Only Turkey Here is the Recipe

A week or so before every holiday I start looking through newspapers and magazines for new recipes.  Sometimes I even find something I’m going to try some day, but I’ve noticed in the past few years that recipes are getting more and more shall we say odd?

I chalk that up to the constant need for something different.  No matter how good they are, or how popular, Holiday recipes just can’t be the same year after year.  Not in PeriodicalWorld, anyway.  If newspapers and magazines kept publishing the same recipes, who would go on reading them?  So since Holiday recipes are a huge part of Holiday issues, they’re always looking for variations on the few good recipes, or, if they’re lucky, something totally new (but close enough to the old that nobody gets scared off).

So I was reading the Detroit Free Press this past Thursday and saw that they had invited a few local celebrity chefs to share their favorite Thanksgiving recipes.  One recipe was for an apple dessert with a dash of Cayenne Pepper–an immediate thumbs down.  But one that caught my eye was Chef Brian Beland’s “Maple Brined turkey”.  Chef Beland is the executive chef at the Country Club of Detroit.

So far so good.

Now, he is a big-time chef and I am not so it could be I’m all wet here, but I’m going to jump right in and say for the record that I LOL’d all over the place over this one.  (The recipe was only in print and not online, so since I I don’t think I can post the entire recipe without infringing 0n copyrights, I’ll just give you an idea of some of the ingredients and a bit of the process.  From there, if you think this sort of thing is divine, you’re on your own.)

Chef Beland says to use a 14 to 16 lb turkey and brine it for 14 to 16 hours.  This is what goes into the brine:  2 gallons water, 2 quarts maple syrup, 1 quart low-sodium soy sauce, 1 pound kosher salt, 2 ounces black peppercorns,  sprigs of thyme, a handful of juniper berries and a few bay leaves.  I am not kidding.

I’ve never bought more than a half-pint of maple syrup at a time, so I went online to see what a quart would cost.  They start at around $20.  So right off the bat in just the brine alone (which, note, will be thrown out afterward), I would already have sunk well over $40.

But now I’m supposed to rinse the turkey, put it in a five-gallon bucket, pour the brine over it and refrigerate it.  In my refrigerator.  Where all the other fixings for Thanksgiving dinner are already overcrowding it.

Not going to happen.

So let me get through this:  Oranges and lemons take the place of stuffing inside the cavity, herb butter is massaged under the breast skin, and the turkey is laid upon a bed of root veggies, made to swim in a quart of chicken or turkey stock or broth, and baked for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, turning every half hour. (Because you really have nothing better to do on Thanksgiving Day.)

I’m sure Chef Beland meant well, but he forgot a couple of things when he agreed to share a Thanksgiving turkey recipe with the rest of us:  We don’t have anywhere near his budget and our kitchens don’t look anywhere near like his.

And in my case, he probably didn’t realize that I don’t want my turkey stuffed with fruits and stuck on an island of veggies in the middle of a broth pool.

But I’m pretty sure he wasn’t really writing it up for me.  How about you?

Plain old Turkey at our house

Plain old Turkey at our house

That’s it, then.  Bon Appetit!

About Ramona Grigg

Ramona Grigg. Freelancer, blogger, essayist, photographer, dreamer. Island dweller. Yooper.
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6 Responses to The Only Turkey Here is the Recipe

  1. Donal says:

    Reminds me of one Iron Chef episode, when the challenger wrapped the theme ingredient – broccoli – in lobster to add flavor to the broccoli, then threw away the lobster.


    • I’m watching the chefs live on Food Network right now.(Bobby, Giada, Alton and the Barefoot Contessa). They’re drinking wine and trying to outdo each other with their creative takes on traditional recipes. it’s hilarious. The more they drink the funnier it gets!


  2. Dakota says:

    I remember one from Gourmet magazine (I think) where you rubbed the turkey in truffle oil… it sounded interesting and a bit more achievable, maybe, but it’s still not an expense I’m willing to make!


    • What made the maple brine recipe even more special, I think, it that it was in the Detroit paper, remember. I’m imagining 99.9% of the population there laughing their heads off over this one. That is, when they aren’t crying or worrying about whether there will even BE a Thanksgiving for them.


  3. Dakota says:

    Oh geeze, I missed that. Yeah, no kidding!!!


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