Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Alton Brown's Roast Turkey, Questions, and Awards

Okay, Thanksgiving is long gone and Christmas is in full swing, but let's talk turkey for a minute. Awhile back, I found Alton Brown's recipe for his Good Eats Roast Turkey while searching the recipes at Food Network. I am very big on searching recipes according to their ratings and was surprised to find that Alton's turkey recipe had been reviewed 2709 times and carried a five star rating!! Never in all of my recipe searches have I seen anything reviewed so many times and given such a high rating. I knew that I was going to have to try this recipe for my Thanksgiving turkey.

Here is a quick summary of how the recipes goes. First the turkey is brined. I had brined my turkey last year, using a Martha Stewart recipe and had good results, so I was all for brining another turkey. I prepared the brine, stuffed the turkey in a newly purchased tub large enough to hold it all, and crammed it into the refrigerator in the garage to "brine" for several hours. On Thanksgiving morning, the turkey was rubbed down with Canola oil and stuffed with a red apple, an onion and some other miscellaneous aromatics. It was roasted, uncovered, at a high temperature , 500F, for 30 minutes. After that first 30 minutes, the turkey had a very nice caramel color to it and the oven was reduced to 350 for the remainder of the roasting time, 2 hours.

Alton Brown's recipe for roast turkey can be found here on the Food Network. You can also find a review about this recipe on Teresa's blog, A Blog About Food. Teresa gave the recipe four out of five stars.

Notes/Results: When the turkey was removed from the oven it had an absolutely breathtaking color. It was the most beautiful turkey I've ever cooked. (Too bad I didn't have a chance to take a proper picture of it). My husband carved it up and plated it and we sat down to eat. I was expecting the turkey to really stand out and it didn't. It looked beautiful on the platter, but it tasted just like any other turkey I've ever had. It was moist, but it wasn't anything special. In fact, my mom had brought a small baked ham and everyone seemed to enjoy the ham more. Most of the turkey was left on the platter when the dinner was over. I have to say that I might give the recipe 3 or 3.5 stars out of 5. Pretty on the plate, but nothing great.

This leads to me to the burning question -- DO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY LIKE TURKEY? DO YOU PREFER TURKEY OVER HAM OR DO YOU PREFER HAM OVER TURKEY? For example, my family told me they wanted turkey for Thanksgiving, so I prepared it and they ended up eating mostly the ham. I think people have to have the turkey setting on the table for Thanksgiving, but don't always want to eat it given the choice between ham and turkey. What do you think?


The week of Thanksgiving I was given some awards and I am terribly late in saying thank you! Thank you to everyone who shared these awards with me. I feel terrible it has taken me so long to post them, but it has been crazy here lately.

From Chaya of Chaya's Comfy Cook Blog, I received the Honest Scrap Award! Thanks Chaya!

From Nat of Nat's Baking in New York City, I recieved the Happy Mama Award! Thanks Nat!

From Lissaloo at One Step at a Time I received this Sugar Doll Blogger Award. Thanks Lissaloo!

From Rhandi at Straight up Good Food, I received the Kreativ Blogger award. Thanks Rhandi!

I would love to pass and share these awards with everyone. A couple of these awards ask that you share ten things about yourself. I decided to share ten things I'm wanting to cook and/or bake:
  1. Alex Guarneschilli's Cheese Fondue Hash Browns, found here. Toasty hash brown potatoes cooked in a cast iron skilled and topped with an entire wheel of Camembert - Hello...does that sound delicious or what?'
  2. I'm on a roll here...Alex Guarneschilli's Spice-Rubbed Bacon with Fried Eggs and Toast Soldiers, found here. Alex takes thick hand cut slices of slab bacon, slathers them in spices and fries them. Fries her eggs in the bacon drippings, basting her eggs with bacon drippings while frying. Basting fried eggs with bacon drippings....hmm...
  3. On a roll with breakfast foods, I'd also like to try Pioneer Woman's Bacon, Onion & Cheddar Biscuits, found here. Drool-worthy!
  4. On my Christmas cookie list are our favorite traditional cookie we make each Christmas, the peanut butter blossom (a peanut butter cookie with a Hershey kiss in the middle).
  5. We have really enjoyed the Cheeseburger Soup recipe that I made last month and have made it twice since then. It is one of our new favorites.
  6. In love with Ellie Krieger's new book, So Easy, I've been wanting to make her Emerald Stir-Fry with Beef. A tasty sounding stir fry with all kinds of green veggies.
  7. Tamales. I have always wanted to make them, but I never get around to it.
  8. Jamie Oliver's Pasta with Camembert Cheese, found here.
  9. Baklava, never made it before, but it is one of my favorite things to eat.
  10. Chicken Fajitas - anyone have a great recipe?
Hence, the next question: with the exception of Ellie's Emerald Stir-Fry with Beef, none of the other recipes are very healthy at all. I can't make them all back to back, but which ones should I start with? Which ones sound the best to you?

After all, I think the holidays deserve some decadence, don't you?


  1. I felt the same way about Alton Brown's turkey...moist, but nothing special. I expected more for the expense and trouble.

    Q#1: Turkey is not too high on our list. We have it maybe 2x a year. We like it fried.

    Q#2: Tamales. I've also always wanted to make them. My grandpa used to make them a few times each year and give them to his children, but I never learned how to do it.

  2. My hubby does not like turkey, but I love it. Your turkey looked awesome, what a beautiful colour it had on it. Hey, congrats on all those awards, thats fab!
    p.s. baklava is a huge favourite of mine too

  3. pretty much my thoughts exactly with the turkey. not worth all the work put into it, but very pretty! i do think i prefer ham over turkey, but my very favorite is a good roasted chicken. they are cheap, quick to cook and SO juicy and yummy. congrats on your awards!

  4. I am planning on brining mine next year, but it sounds like I should use Martha's recipe. I like both turkey and ham at T-day it just wouldn't seem right to not have the Turkey :)
    Congrats on the awards! And for passing them on you are so sweet :)
    I would love to see the cheese fondue hashbrown recipe, it sounds so intriguing, and the PW recipe I haven't seen that one but I love all of hers that I've tried :)

  5. I tried that recipe before too and wasn't that impressed. My go-to turkey is a Giada citrus herb recipe. I rub the spices on the night before and let it sit in the fridge. It's wonderful and the most flavorful turkey. Though, I usually have to bake mine longer than she calls for, so I use a thermometer.

  6. The Cheese Fondue Hash Browns sounds amazing! Post about those! I really wish I'd have brined my turkey this year. Yours is gorgeous!

  7. It may be sacrilege, but I'll never brine or cheesecloth wrap another turkey. My turkeys have always come out moist (I stuff butter under the skin and watch the temperature like a hawk. I also still stuff mine since we prefer the stuffing very, very moist (and I make a side casserole of stuffing as well). I prefer dark meat and really like the sides better than the turkey except for my sandwich the next day: white bread (another sacrilege), mayo (which I seldom eat), stuffing, cranberry sauce, and, oh yes, a bit of turkey. I vote for any of Alex G's recipes.

  8. Congrats on all the awards – you are much loved and a kick ass cook. :-)

    I love turkey. Love ham too but if I had to pick it would be turkey, turkey and more turkey. My son would opt for the ham…he can pack that away, I’ll tell you.

    Hmmm…hard choice on what you should tackle next. You could plan to get those all cooked/baked but over the next six months but my vote is definitely for Jamie Oliver's Pasta with Camembert Cheese. Oh, I have a fajitas recipe – pretty healthy too. I’ll send it on.

  9. Turkey is a must in our house, but we also have it several times during the year - we actually celebrate Thanksgiving more than once!

    Your choices of what to make is tough to narrow down. I'd go with baklava. I love it too but never get to eat it in my house.

  10. I prefer Turkey for Thanksgiving but I do love ham. and if I were you, I'd go with making the tamales or baklava!!!

  11. Congratulations to you! My hat is also off to you for preparing a turkey after Thanksgiving and before Christmas!
    I was just having a conversation today about turkey. Turkey is good but, the side dishes are what really rocks at the holiday table. The turkey can be okay but, if the side dishes are not good-folks are talking :-) I like turkey and my kids would tell you they prefer ham.

  12. Your turkey does look gorgeous! I don't eat ham - I would much rather have turkey. But when we sat down to eat Thanskgiving dinner my sister and hubby asked what was for Christmas dinner? And then requested --- ham!!!

  13. We're a turkey family but I have to admit I love making ham. I so enjoy making the glaze and using what I have on hand and it always turns out so good!

    Your turkey looks pretty great to me. Love the apple addition too!

  14. It is a gorgeous color--bummer it wasn't as good as the reviews said. I like both turkey and ham but prefer turkey.

    Congrats on the awards--well deserved!

  15. What incredible colour! Maybe I will do that for this Christmas. My family does love turkey. The guys love the dark meat and my daughter and I like the white. It all balances out!

  16. The turkey DOES look beautiful...too bad the taste didn't match up. I guess you can't judge a turkey by its skin... One would think that with a five star rating it would have been INSANELY delicious. Hmmmm.

    I'm not actually the biggest fan of either turkey or ham. Pork is my meat of choice. Specifically pulled pork. But you can't really serve that at Thanksgiving.

    PW's biscuits sound amazing! THey are on my to-make list as well.

  17. Happy congrats to you and your awards! The turkey does look fantastic - however, after having brine leak all overmy fridge two years - I will only do a dry one! I do love turkey though and make it during the year just because... I also love ham ... I'm not good with choices.

  18. I was so glad to see you post this. I have considered making Alton's turkey many times, as it is so highly rated. Its good to know that I can be content with my own turkey instead and save myself the effort.

    I DO really like turkey and I look forward to making it at the holidays. And yes, I am one of the people who prefers it to ham. I love some turkey with pan gravy. And then afterward, I make a big vat of turkey and noodles for all of Matt's buddies!

  19. I always am leery when it comes to ratings on websites, which is why I try to ignore them and go with my gut--this recipe does look like it would produce a magnificent tasting turkey, but I suppose as long as it looked nice, it can get 3 stars! :-)

    As far as meat at the holidays go, we always have just turkey at Thanksgiving and ham at Christmas. This year I am going to make a rolled pork tenderloin for Christmas to switch it up a bit!

  20. We do like turkey, we smoke probably 5 or 6 a year. But my hands down favorite holiday dish is rib roast.


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