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turkey virgin seeks your experience and guidance for first time

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I'm planning to brine the thing in the Williams-Sonoma brine and my oven has a meat thermometer that will do most of the work for me, but I don't know what bird to buy. Do I order one from the butcher shop? organic free range is $3.89 per pound. We're not strictly organic people, but I do want the best tasting. Can I just order one from Kroger? It's a whole lot closer, but I'm willing to make the drive and pay the extra (actually, I have no idea what one costs at the grocery) if it'll make that much difference. If I do order from the grocery, when do I need to do it? Or can a decent bird be acquired without ordering? Thank you.

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  1. Another issue - fresh or frozen? Many shops ask you to order now so you can pickup a fresh one a day or two before cooking. But if you have space to thaw it, you can pickup a frozen one ahead of time. How much space do you have for storing or thawing the bird?

    Grocery price also varies with size.

    How about test run with roast chicken?

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulj

      Isn't this the second time you've been my culinary knight in shining armor? I was looking at your profile and I have to ask, where were you yesterday when my chicken tikka masala was inedible. Or the masala anyway. The chicken was good.
      I was planning fresh. I don't have the fridge space and I hate thawing meat. I was informed today that a local grocery carries fresh that don't have to be pre-ordered, so I'll probably just go with that. I don't really think the hour drive each way to the fancy butcher shop is worth it although I make one more inquiry at a closer butcher shop.
      Thanks for the test run idea. I do roast a mean chicken, but I may try a small turkey with a maple brine. I changed my mind about the WS one because I don't care for juniper.

    2. Unless your bird is monstrous, you can thaw and brine it in a large cooler. I have a 'soft' semi-collapsable one from the sporting goods store that works fine. Be sure to double bag the bird for safety while brining.

      A small bag of ice per day should keep it below 40 degrees if you have to get it a couple of days ahead. Keep the cooler out of the warm house. Icing is even less of an issue as the local climate approaches freezing.

      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook until the skin is lightly browned (no more than 30 minutes) then reduce to 325.

      Be sure to get an instant read or remote read thermometer. Cook the bird until the coldest part hits about 150 degrees, then remove the bird, keep covered with foil and let it coast up to 160.

      Search this board for other tips just in case my memory wasn't perfect :-(.