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I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a fairly new group of friends. I was not sure if I wanted to cook a whole turkey or just a large turkey breast. Just cooking the breast allows for stuffing but is much easier to cook uniformly.
After checking out my options at the grocery store, I selected a whole turkey on sale for 49 cents a pound. The store was very crowded and there was a line at every register. An elderly Hispanic woman just ahead of me in line looked at my turkey and asked how much it was. I told her it was only seven dollars and she look dismayed. Hers was over 15 dollars because her family insisted she buy a Butterball. I said that that was OK because it was a holiday after all.
A few moments later, she said she makes the best turkey: lemon turkey. I asked what that was and she proudly explained that she soaks the bird overnight in a cooler of water to which she adds the juice of two lemons. She then rinses it, pats it dry and injects a paste of fresh garlic and olive oil under the skin. I asked if she added salt or sugar to the brine and she replied that you could, but she thought it was better with just lemon.
When I got home, I researched lemon brines for roasting turkey and found she was definitely on to something, although every recipe I found included salt, sugar, or both. Most also had rosemary or other herbs in the brine. Betty Crocker actually took it up a notch and suggested adding grated lemon peel to your gravy. I am going to try it without sugar or salt and see how it works.
The woman went on to tell me she has seven children and she is not sure how many grandchildren. They will have to play outside while she prepares the meal. What if it rains, I ask?
That will be a big problem, she responds.Published in