Dontaye Ball of Good Foods Catering took us Thanksgiving shopping, shared his family tradition (his grandmother's gumbo), and educated us to the fact that "awkward" sweet potatoes are best. He also offered a recipe to liven up rainbow chard with applewood-smoked almonds and bacon. Now he invites us into his kitchen to demonstrate the ease of brining and roasting a turkey at home to go with those tempting side dishes. Watch the clip above to see how he does it.
Even if you don't have the eight to 24 hours Ball suggests for the turkey to sit in the brine, using this method for any length of time will yield a more juicy, flavorful bird. The big secret to having a golden brown turkey, as it turns out, is simply to rub it down with some vegetable or olive oil before putting in the oven.
Ball has some additional tips for maximizing the parts that might be otherwise tossed or overlooked. Excess skin, for example, may be reserved to make turkey cracklins, "a household favorite" with his family. And all those bits that gross out little kids and most adults make for the beginnings of excellent gravy and stock. He'll roast a turkey for your Christmas dinner if you don't want to cook yourself. In the meantime, below, his recipe for brine.
Dontaye Ball's Turkey Brine
Gallon of hot water
1/2 gallon of cold water
1/2 cup of sea salt
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup mixed peppercorns
1/4 cup fennel seeds, toasted
1/4 cup oregano and cinnamon, mixed together
4 bay leaves
Dissolve sugar and salt in hot water and then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Let cool for five minutes and then pour over turkey. Add cold water; more might be necessary to submerge the turkey completely. Cover with two plates so the turkey doesn't pop up out of water. Refrigerate for eight to 24 hours.