Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mini Thanksgiving Bird

I spent my turkey day alone this year. My husband was taking care of his brother out of state for a few days following surgery to repair a hernia. So I did the next best thing to turkey, I made a Cornish game hen with homemade stuffing.

I have never had a more flavorful, moist bird in my life.

If you haven't ever made brined turkey or game hen before, you must give it a try. The breast meat is so tender you would think you are eating dark meat.

The following recipes make enough brine for 1 medium game hen or 1 small chicken and enough stuffing for the same. The brine can easily be doubled or tripled for turkey.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Brine for poultry
Makes 1/2 gallon

8 cups water
1/4 cup canning salt
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS dried Italian herbs
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2-1 cup apple juice (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a zip top gallon bag. Shake to combine and dissolve salt. Rinse poultry of choice and submerge in brine. Refrigerate overnight. Rinse poultry, drain, and pat dry before cooking.

My preferred method of cooking: Pat the poultry dry. Loosen skin on breast. Gently push some small pats of butter under the skin on the breast. Tress your bird. Place in your roaster. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to roaster, cover and cook according to package. Add 1 cup stock for larger birds such as chicken or turkey.

Why I like this method: chicken stock and a good fitting lid keep the bird moist, this completely eliminates the need to baste your poultry. This method works wonders even if you don't brine your meat.

Homemade stuffing

1/3 cup of celery, chopped fine
3 TBS onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 TBS melted butter
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
2 cups day old bread, cubed
2 TBS milk

Cook celery and onions in the melted butter until tender.

Mix celery and onion with remaining ingredients.

* If you don't have day old breadcrumbs, take fresh bread, cut into cubes. Toast in a hot oven to dry out slightly.

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