In gathering with good friends of mine last Saturday, the importance of culture, food, and the right ingredients was discussed over a few drinks. My friend from Puerto Rico warmed my heart by telling me she had made midwestern chicken and noodles for the first time. Maria had first had chicken and noodles at my house 17 years ago. The dinner was quite foreign to her in many ways. In Puerto Rico they only had mashed potatoes out of a box so the fresh from the garden mashed potatoes with the tender skins included were new to her, green beans had only come from a can before and chicken and noodles was a watery soup without the full flavor offered when you have pastured chicken. When she told me this, I was touched. I did not remember the particular dinner as it was part of my normal but to her it stood out until 17 years later she made the same meal after hand rolling her first noodles.
Similarly, I had never known turkey until I met Maria. She passed on to me the “brine” recipe I have now shared for years. This year as we travel to Pennsylvania with two turkeys for the family dinner, one will have been brined with the following recipe and go straight into the oven when we arrive. I can’t wait!
For a 12 lb turkey (double for a larger turkey) Blend together: 12 cloves garlic, 12 peppercorns, 1 1/2 T oregano, 7 T olive oil, 4T vinegar, 3T salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder. First unpack your turkey and remove the giblets from inside. Wash it with water and vinegar or lemon juice. Place your turkey in a good, deep pan and rub with the marinade from above. Marinade for 24 hours. Bake covered, breast down at 325 F expecting 18 minutes/lb turkey. You can turn it over for the last few minutes to brown the breast. Carve and return to clean pan ladling the juices over the top to serve.