Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Foods to make in praise of our Blessed FSM, pasta based and otherwise.

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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby daftbeaker on Sun Dec 12, 2010 2:32 am

ET, the Extra Terrestrial wrote:Why not just use salt-free salt? :idiot:

You can do that and it's very cheap. The problem is it doesn't have much flavour :idiot:
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Edd on Sun Dec 12, 2010 3:39 am

daftbeaker wrote:
ET, the Extra Terrestrial wrote:Why not just use salt-free salt? :idiot:

You can do that and it's very cheap. The problem is it doesn't have much flavour :idiot:


That's in the homeopathic section, right? :idiot:

Seriously though, one of the results of my Google search said that most of the salt isn't absorbed by the turkey and is washed off prior to cooking.
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Cardinal Fang on Sun Dec 12, 2010 6:21 pm

I've never understood the deal with soaking turkey anyway. Never done it and never will. It seems to be quite an American thing to do.

I follow Saint Delia's turkey instructions (http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/chicken-and-other-poultry/how-to-roast-turkey.html) and I always end up with a moist, juicy turkey. Then you don't have to worry too much about overly salty gravy.

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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Arkaeon on Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:22 am

Ok, getting past the whole, "If you're both sensitive to salt, why oh why would you make a brined roast?!"
There are other ways to get moist roasted bird. For one, lower your roasting temperature to 88-90°C (190-195F), put it lower in the oven, and increase the time accordingly. Time will vary with size/stuffed/fatness of bird, obviously. At this temp, you will have a fair margin of error where the bird is done enough to be safe but if the temp never exceeds 100C the juices won't boil out of the meat. Depends on how accurate/precise your oven really is. For a large turkey, I put it in the oven the night before and just go to bed. I wake up to a turkey that's almost done and can spend my morning working on the other dishes instead of fussing and waiting on the bird all day; or I take time to make a really fabulous roux gravy by boiling off the carcass, then just reheat the turkey meat at the end if needed so it's hot enough to serve.

Another way is to roast a bird "on its head" standing up so the juices from the legs/body run down into the breast meat.
This can be combined with the lowered temp roasting, and really adds flavor to the white meat.
If you can legally get a syringe, you can inject the meat in several spots with something like ghee (the clear melted part of butter) before you roast it, or a suitable flavored cooking oil infusion (basically, warming the oil with spices in it to extract flavors). You can inject the flavored liquid part and then use the wet spices/herbs to rub down the bird inside and out.

Many people overcook birds, drying the meat horribly. Check out what it really takes to make poultry safe. It's less than many traditional directions call for. If you stuff your bird, do it late in the cooking process, when the body cavity has already had a chance to become cooked/sanitary enough not to worry about contact contamination with the bread. I find that stuffing only needs about 30-45 minutes to soak up juices from the cavity anyway, assuming that's the goal. Lately I just pour some of the juices or gravy onto the stuffing mixture and bake it separately. Works the same.
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby PKMKII on Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:56 am

Also: remember that a turkey will continue to go up in temp for 10-20 minutes after you take it out of the oven. So if the inner-most thermometer reading is still a few degrees low, it's alright to take the bird out.
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby bacon on Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:44 pm

Of course, my favorite way to cook a turkey is by placing strips of bacon over the top of it while it is roasting. The juice and salts from the bacon helps to keep it moist and yummily.

An overcooked bird is a yucky, tough bird - so keep an eye on the internal temperature and remember what PK said - it will continue to cook - so take it out of the oven when it is at least 10 degrees below the correct cooking temperature.
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Roy Hunter on Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:09 am

I forgot to post how we got on!

In the true spirit of scientific experiment, we made gravy using the juices from the brined turkey. In the true spirit of wanting to enjoy our dinner, we made backup gravy the night before using a turkey leg that we bought and cooked, and fed to Milo later. The turkey turned out just fine. It was moist, it was tender, it was cooked right through. It did not taste salty, and Mrs. H. could eat it just fine without any adverse reaction.

The gravy we made from the brined turkey did not taste very salty, in fact it was lovely. But when Mrs. H. tried it, she could feel (rather than taste) that it had quite a lot of salt in it. So she went with the backup gravy. The Boy could not feel that it had lots of salt in it, so he went with the original gravy. I went with a bit of both, and while the gravy from the bird was tastier, I think I could tell that there was quite a lot of salt in it. It did not taste of salt, however.

Next year I'll get all Heston Blumenthal on you, and freeze dry the turkey with liquid nitrogen, before cooking it on the exhaust manifold of a Land Rover...
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Arkaeon on Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:20 pm

Congrats and thanks for the report, Roy.

It's always good to hear of other people's experiments. It cuts down on the number of mistakes I make in Mad Scientist mode myself ;)

Happy holiday aftermath week everybody. I think its time to cook something very UNtraditional to balance the cooking karma. >off to the lab!<
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Ubi Dubium on Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:33 am

Although it's already too late, and your turkey is done, I had another suggestion, maybe for next year. I usually throw the turkey neck and giblets (except the liver, yuk) into a pot of water to slowly simmer into turkey stock while the bird cooks. You can add the tail also, wingtips, and any fat you trim off the bird. I usually throw in some vegetables and spices, but no salt. Start with a base of the turkey drippings for your gravy, then add the no-salt stock until you have diluted the salt enough to be acceptable.

On a related note, turkeys are North American birds. I know the old British tradition used to be a goose for the holidays. Any idea when you guys on the far side of the pond started eating turkeys? And how common are they as compared with the traditional goose, or other holiday fare? And have you picked up using cranberries with it as well?
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Tigger_the_Wing on Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:47 am

Geese are obstreperous birds; I assume that turkeys are less aggressive and thus easier to keep in the ginormous flocks necessary for bulk-feeding to millions of hungry humans.

As for eating turkey with jam, yes, we were doing that when I was a child.
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby PKMKII on Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:30 am

Don't turkeys have a much lower fat content than geese?
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby daftbeaker on Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:45 am

PKMKII wrote:Don't turkeys have a much lower fat content than geese?

Yes but the goose fat is traditionally used to make the roast potatoes nice and crispy on the outside.

I'm with Tig, I think the main driving force was turkey being much cheaper than goose.
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Roy Hunter on Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:47 am

A turkey is the largest bird you can fit into a conventional-sized domestic oven. Now I know we're getting into the realms of the ID argument about 'why does a banana fit in your hand if it's not intelligently designed?', if not the argument about how the size of the Space Shuttle was decided by the width of a horse's butt; but I suspect that oven manufacturers make ovens big enough to cook the Christmas turkey in, and punters cook turkey for Christmas dinner because it's the largest thing they can fit in the oven.

Mrs. H. is not good with the whole 'a turkey is a dead bird' thing: the sight of the giblets and the neck tends to turn her stomach, so I need to dispose of them immediately for her. I think it is a terrible waste, since we're into using food as much as we can and not wasting it, but she just gags at giblets and necks.

We do use cranberries now. As far as I recall, cranberry sauce was always available in jars, but fresh cranberries, no. My late grandmother used to make gooseberry sauce to go with the Christmas turkey. She made it in autumn, when the gosseberries were in season, and jarred it until Christmas. I'm not sure if that is a pre-cranberry tradition, or if she was just a bit weird. It was nice, as far as her cooking went.

Anyway, in this part of the country we use geese to guard the Bonded Warehouses where we store the whisky. Far better than guard dogs. Or stoopid hoomins.
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby DavidH on Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:09 am

We used to keep geese when I was a lad. Yes, they are bloody fierce, but no problem when you get the hang of them. My teenage friends had to show how 'hard' they were by going in with our geese; it was a treat to watch a Teddy Boy in his leather jacket running in mortal fear with a goose pecking at his arse.

I think the thing with ducks is that they don't take to intensive battery rearing and so have become relatively more expensive. Chickens and turkeys are now industrially reared in massive sheds and the price has gone right down. There's a bloke in this village that rears chickens 30,000 at a time: 49 days from buying in day-old chicks to selling live birds to the factories. In and out on fleets of lorries. Ah, the good old country ways!
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Re: Christmas Dinner Question for the Chemists.

Postby Tigger_the_Wing on Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:05 am

The way to face down a goose/gander is to persuade it that you are a bigger, fiercer goose/gander than it is.

Given that they aren't the most intelligent of creatures, that is surprisingly easy. I certainly never had any problem dominating a strange flock (a common occurance, being a rural taxi driver). Mind you, unlike your Teddy Boy, I had the advantage that I was usually wearing a skirt. Spreading it out with my hands, leaning forward and hissing fiercely always persuaded the gander in charge of the flock to back down and clear the way. I even had one gander, notorious for attacking women in skirts*, flatten itself to the ground at my feet and start 'peep-peeping' like a chick.
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* They apparently fool the birds, who seem to think that skirts are wings and thus their territory is being invaded by another bird
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