#TallCanTurkey and Sparkling Zin
Updated: Dec 10, 2018
In light of our impending national turkey day, I’m focusing my energy on “same same but different”. A twist on traditions, something decidedly new- yet familiar enough that your uncle Ted won’t fall off his chair. Fortunately with plain bland dry roast turkey, there’s a lot of room for improvement-you can only go up from here. If you fuck it up, chances are it won’t be too much worse than it was last year. So cheer up! This is going to be great.
I’m not sure exactly where the inspiration for tall can turkey came from. It probably has something to do with my obsession with anything tacky or shall we say “trashy”- beer koozies, hair scrunchies, camouflage, White Zinfandel- at the root of all these things is something deeply satisfying and utilitarian. I’ve also found that what is uncool will soon be cool, so why try for the latter when it will soon be the former?
Beer can chicken is a standby in my household. Whether in the oven or on the barbeque, this technique never fails to deliver tender meat and crispy skinned birds. The presentation also looks pretty neat. In addition to beer-canning the turkey, I decided to soak it in a brine overnight. I recently read a New York Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/12/dining/the-rise-and-fall-of-turkey-brining.html) about how brining is so passé, but like I said before- what’s old is new, so brine your turkey and get ahead of the trend. It also works really well, so I don’t care what they say!
In order to fit the bird in your oven, stick with a 12 pound or smaller turkey. The turkey I bought was 12.07 pounds, and just barely fit with the oven rack on the lowest level. The brine recipe I used was based on one from The Pioneer Woman (https://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/my-favorite-turkey-brine/), except I left out the orange peel and rosemary because I didn’t have any. I also read the recipe wrong and used about 1 cup of apple cider vinegar instead of apple cider, and guess what- it was fine!
I put a few cloves of garlic in the tall can, and placed it in the middle of a roasting pan. I poured about a half cup of water in the bottom of the pan to keep the dripping from scorching. After putting the turkey on the tall can, I slid that sucker into the oven for 3 hours at 325 degrees. In order to keep the top of the turkey from browning too quickly, I covered it with aluminum foil after about the first 45 minutes.
Instead of using a meat thermometer, which would be too easy, I gauged my turkey’s doneness by how much the skin on the drumsticks had shrunk up. I also cut through the skin where the thigh attaches to the body, and looked at the juices that ran out. Clear juices indicate the turkey is done cooking.
After letting that puppy rest for about 30 minutes, get someone to help you lift the bird off the beer can and place it on a carving board. Slice up your bird and marvel at the deliciously moist white meat! The remaining drippings can be used for making gravy. One complaint I found when researching brined turkey is that the drippings are too salty to use for gravy. I found that adding broth to the drippings helped dial back the saltiness, and now that I think of it, adding more water to the roasting pan in the first place might be the answer to cutting the saltiness of the resulting gravy.
I'm sure you're wondering what to drink with this delicious turkey, and my favorite drink to bust out during this time of year is SPARKLING ZINFANDEL!!! Zinfandel is a wine that is naturally juicy and jammy, and bubbles add the perfect touch of lightness and acidity.
Harvest Moon makes a delicious sparkling Zinfandel that will not let you down. It tastes like grown up full bodied cranberry spritzer, and I love it. My husband bought a couple bottles of this months ago, and as soon as I tasted it I said "This tastes like Thanksgiving!" and I scuttled the second bottle away for just this occasion.
I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving! This year I am thankful for the endless support from friends and family as I navigate a mid-thirties life crisis and career change. I am thankful for creativity and curiosity- two forces that continue to shape my life and drive me forward onto new adventures.