Holiday Bird ala the Orion Cooker "la torre del diablo"
I've talked a bit about my Orion Cooker or as I like to call it, "la torre del diablo" (the tower of the devil) and lots of people come and visit looking for info on the orion cooker and turkey. So today I'm going to chronicle the step by step of cooking a turkey and hey look, just in time for xmas.
It all starts with the brine. As many of you know the best way to get a nice juicy turkey is to brine it before hand. It allows helps the meat retain moisture through the cooking process and you can impart some nice flavors. I used a slightly modified brine recipe (see below) by my favorite food geek/hero, Alton Brown. It's quite simple really, you need a high salt content I believe the rule of thumb is one cup each of salt and sugar for every gallon of brine. In this case, the vegetable stock has salt in it, and I trust that's why there's less salt in the recipe, and of course the word of Alton Brown is never wrong he is after all the culinary equivalent of Chuck Norris. I digress, you can then add your other herbs to help infuse the flavor you're going for in this case I added freeze dried cherries, a few juniper berries and a sundry of other stuff I had lying around. Why does this work? Well I'm no food scientist, but the gist of it is that the brine breaks down/unwinds protein molecules and allows the brine to infuse the meat. I'm sure a more detailed explanation can be googled.
Next step. hardware, we have the gear as you see at the top, and setting up the cooker and the bird. You put in the drip pan into the Orion and add some wood chips around the pan (not in it) I used cherry wood, but whatever your preference is fine. Set up your grate on the lower bracket and mount your turkey. As you can see I have a healthy 13-14 pounder, but I think the cooker will accomodate larger birds with no problem (up to 20 pounds maybe 21?).
Here is my only complaint about my Orion cooker, it takes a 15 pound back of charcoal to fire this thing and the coals burn far longer than is necessary to cook the bird. I've toyed with the idea of queuing up another bird for larger parties, or a roast or something, I *think* it would be fine, but I've not tried and might go ahead and do a low risk experiment when I cook up another turkey for my parents for Christmas. Anyhow, once you're ready, you light up the "la torre del diablo" (use a booming ominous voice when you say this) like the Olympic flame. The manual says seven mins per pound, for my exact weight that came out to 94 mins so just over an hour and a half till turkey time.
Next step is to wait, crack open a beverage of your choice and watch with fire extinguisher on hand to make sure you don't burn down anything. As you can see, I have a big concrete patio and it happened to be raining that day so it's not really an issue for me.
Ok finished product. As you can see right out of the cooker you get a beautiful perfectly cooked turkey with that perfect golden brown that you see on TV. Break out your favorite knife perfectly sharpened knife by your edge pro (post to follow) and you are set for business. I usually go for the dark meat on turkey, it's just more moist, but I find cooking with the brine and the Orion, the white meat is perfect (and better for me).
As promised a recipe yes I know a rare occurance, but this is only one recipe so I happily have much room to post it. Just a reminder, if you ask in the comments for any recipe that you want from my site, I happily will post it for you. Happy Holidays folks!
Turkey Brine - Courtesy of Alton Brown
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
The night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.