This year I bought one of Martha Stewart’s turkeys. Martha seems to be slowly making her way into the food market, so I was interested to try her turkeys. Martha’s turkeys are described as organic (although not certified), pasture fed and humanely treated – three things that are important to me. Last year I bought an organic turkey at my supermarket, but it was not pasture fed nor humanely treated, so I jumped at the chance to buy one of Martha’s. The cost made me choke a bit. I paid $85.51 (including shipping and AFTER a $15 discount) for a 12 lb turkey. That is quite steep.
The turkey arrived frozen on the day scheduled. I left it in the fridge to defrost. This took much longer than Martha said it would. I got the turkey exactly one week before Thanksgiving and it was not fully defrosted until the day before.
I did a wet brine this year (last year I tried Martha’s dry brine). I used 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup salt, 2 oranges quartered, 2 lemons quartered, fresh thyme and rosemary and about 6 peppercorns. I added this to 2 gallons of water and brought it to a boil and then cooled it before adding the turkey. I ended up adding about another gallon of water to get the turkey completely covered. I let it brine for about 16 hours.
I decided to attempt Martha’s cheesecloth method of turkey roasting (which was described in the instructions included with the turkey). You soak a piece of cheesecloth in butter (Martha says to use wine also but I didn’t use wine). You rub the turkey with butter and salt and pepper it (I also added some fresh sage, rosemary and thyme). Then you lay the cheesecloth over the turkey and bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Then brush it with the butter and reduce heat to 350, brushing with butter every 30 minutes for 2 hours.
After two hours, you remove the cheesecloth, baste with pan juices and continue to cook until the turkey reaches 165 (Martha says about 1 to 1 and a half hours). Ours was done in about an hour.
I did stuff my turkey- regular stuffing in one end and cornbread in the other end. We got a little excited after we took the turkey out and it rested – we didn’t remember to take a photo until after we scooped out the stuffing.
This was absolutely the BEST turkey we’ve ever had. It was moist, tender, flavorful, and it just about melted in your mouth. I am sure the quality of the turkey itself played a large part in that, but I also think the brining and the cheesecloth added to the taste and texture. I will definitely use this method again next year. I would love to buy Martha’s turkey again next year, but I hope I can find a local organic turkey that is pasture fed and humanely treated instead (not to mention less expensive – the shipping alone on this was $30). If not, I might end up with Martha’s again.
One other tidbit – I bought a potato masher – one of those handheld thingies you smush the potatoes with (highly recommended by Martha) and tried that for the mashed potatoes. I was surprised at how quickly they did smash up with it. However, I did not like the texture. It was too grainy. So I quickly got out the mixer and whizzed it with that – then it had the creamy texture we like. So the potato masher was a failure!