No Thyme Left for Youuuuu....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"On My Way to Better Things...
I Found Myself Some Wings!
Distant Roads Are Calling Me..."

Please forgive the blatant pun if you will. It's the Thanksgiving Holiday. The trytophan-laced turkey still hasn't quite worn off yet. It is nice to see though -- that the "old guys" can still get the job done. And heck -- if anything -- they sound a lot better today than they did 40-something years ago...

Add “The Guess Who” to the “I’ve got to see these guys in concert” list – one of many I’d like to see (I did finally get to see Fleetwood Mac a few summers ago at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre).

I put this song up because the tune kept playing and playing through my head while I was out hunting for fresh thyme and other herbs for our always popular – and always in demand – Best Way Brined Turkey. It’s fast become a Thanksgiving tradition – and always draws a big crowd to our North Natomas home for the holiday.

Fresh herbs turkey base
In fact – as I write this – the wonderful wife that is Venus is busy boiling what remains of the carcass to be used as stock for traditional soups like turkey noodle soup and the non-traditional dishes such as “Turkey Pho.”

I’m really looking forward to that one.

The smell of fresh thyme still fills the household from the brining session we undertook earlier in the week – and the fresh herbs that Venus has put into the stock pot pictured above. There’s nothing quite like having a fresh herb garden in the backyard – which we raid with impunity for holiday occasions like this.
Although the recipe that we use for Best Way Brined Turkey calls for only one fresh herb (thyme) – why not more? We had more – a lot more at the moment – thanks to a spurt of Sage growth that took place earlier this fall.

Fresh herbs from the backyard herb garden!
The small rosemary starter plant that Venus came home with earlier this summer – the very same plant that had suffered through the indignity of getting dug up time and again by That Damn Dog – had produced enough fall growth to yield two fat stems for our brining adventure. Add in large handfuls of marjoram, oregano, rau rum, garlic chives and yes – thyme – and you have a brine concoction that comes out looking just a tad green.

Green turkey for the holidays anyone?

There’s a strange satisfaction I get from using fresh herbs for any kitchen creation we concoct – whether it be just for us or a holiday gathering. Perhaps it’s looking at the price that supermarkets get away with charging for what I’m growing in my own backyard? Perhaps it’s looking at said bowl of fresh herbs and realizing that I would have spent a small fortune for the same thing at my local store?

Herbs Ready for Grinding!
Perhaps it’s the cornucopia of tastes and smells that result when grinding up the mixture of home-grown herbs in our food processor? Most herbs grow extremely well in our Sacramento climate and survive in thrive in the hottest of summer sizzlers or the coldest and darkest of winter seasons.

Or – perhaps it’s just that indescribable taste that results from the combination of fresh herbs, and home-grown garlic and onions that combines with salt and sugar and is allowed to marinate and permeate a Thanksgiving turkey for 24-48 hours.

Whatever the answer is – the end result is an oven-baked turkey that tastes nothing like the Uncle or Aunt or whatever family member hosted Thanksgiving “back in the day.” Yes – it’s the same old turkey. Yes – it’s the same old way of cooking said turkey. But the results after brining are dazzling. You can keep the deep-fried turkey for yourself. Brined bird beats the deep-fried game every time.

Plus – it’s a tad healthier.

Best Way Brined Turkey
As for what herbs work best in a brine like this – the answer would be – “what do you have?” Although the recipe in question calls for fresh thyme and bay leaves – we use that and whatever we have growing in the backyard garden. Two years ago? French Sorrel had taken over the herb garden – which made our choice for the dominant herb rather easy. This year? Three different types of fresh sage were ready for plucking.

Nothing beats the backyard herb garden. You can get a lot out of a very small space. All you need is a little determination – and the desire for experimentation.


Greg Damitz said...

Brined my bird and stuffed it with herbs from the backyard also. A brined birtd beats a deep fried any day. Of course there was not any basil stuffed in the bird as Old Jack Frost took care of those plants.

Laura P said...

Excellent video link Mr. Bird. One of the notable guitar riffs of all rock history.

Bill Bird said...

No kidding on the freeze front Mr. Damitz. All tomato plants that I hadn't pulled yet are now in various stages of turning a deep, dead, BROWN. Same with the basil. But -- the bees are still flying Laura! I've never had a hive last this long before. And I'm not going to take any credit for it, because when the colony started to react (sting) to my feeding efforts in August -- I cut them off and left them alone. They appear to be doing just fine and dandy on their own.

Indoor Fountains said...

Man- The Guess Who still sound great. "Undun" is one of best songs of all time!