A Very Chalkboard Thanksgiving: Sustainable Turkeys + A Dry Brine Recipe From Flamingo Estate
We spend most October’s shooting beautiful Thanksgiving spreads to inspire your holiday, but this season has been different. We’ve been making every effort to socially distance as the fall temperatures cool here in L.A., and yet we’ve managed to gather a few beautiful ideas for a small, but wonderful holiday at home, including these tips from a multi-generational, sustainable turkey farmer and recipe from a chef at a cool L.A. landmark we love…
This year’s turkey comes from the Diestel Family Ranch, one of the only truly sustainable turkey ranches available nation-wide (find ’em at Whole Foods). We talked with Heidi Diestel, who is part of the fourth generation in her family to raise pasture-raised turkeys.
How to shop a turkey Out of the gate, Heidi urged us to, at the very least, shop for a turkey that was “antibiotic free and vegetarian fed”. It’s a good place to start if you’re extremely budget-conscious or are just beginning to invest time learning where your food comes from, but the truth is, Diestel Family Ranch transcends those standards with organic, heirloom turkeys that are raised with regenerative farming practices and are certified non-GMO.
“Whenever possible, look for turkeys from independent farms that are transparent about their practices,” Heidi advised. “For smaller farms like Diestel, we’re focused on quality, not quantity. Unlike bigger corporations that need to operate at maximum efficiency and scale, we can prioritize the turkeys’ health and maintain responsible practices that yield better, more nutritious turkeys that are slow grown and given plenty of room to roam.”
Going small this year? Many of us are cooking a smaller bird this year and looking for smart solutions. While we’ve got you covered on ideas for a full bird below, including tips from Heidi and this chef recipe, if you’re down to get a bit casual about the whole affair this year, Diestel also offers a turkey roast that comes pre-seasoned in a BPA-free bag that pops easily in the oven. We’re not mad at that idea for a year when many of us are celebrating sans the large family celebration.
A Rancher + A Chef: How to Cook A Turkey
If you’re going to roast a full turkey, here are some tips from Heidi…
+ Temp awareness: There’s nothing more important than the temperature of your turkey on roasting day! Make sure your turkey is soft and fully defrosted before it goes in the oven.
+ Invest… in a good meat thermometer! It can make or break you nailing the 5°F window that makes turkey really sing.
+ On basting: You can baste your bird, but keep in mind that consistently basting turkeys throughout the entire roasting cycle will result in skin that’s moist instead of crispy. Whether or not you baste throughout, it’s always a good idea to have some type of liquid (broth, stock, water or wine) in the bottom of your roasting pan throughout the roasting process.
+ End well: The internal temperature of your turkey typically increases more rapidly during the last half of the roasting time. Be sure to check your turkey consistently during the last half of the roasting time to ensure you don't over roast the bird.
+ Rest: After roasting, let your bird rest for a minimum of 30 minutes under a foil tent. This allows all the moisture to seep back into the turkey, and your patience will be rewarded with a super juicy bird.
We also talked to the head chef at what is, arguably, L.A.’s coolest property, Flamingo Estate for her favorite holiday turkey recipe — and she did not disappoint.
Flamingo Estate is the kind of place you think only exists in movies — rambling orchards, impressive art collection, well-designed rooms that could tell decades of stories, plus a garden that now produces delivery boxes of fresh bread, fruit, veggies, candles and more. It’s something of an obsession for those we know who’ve stumbled into what the Estate has to offer (and we love that they offer Lori Stern’s insanely beautiful cookies!)
Here is Chef Ella Freyinger’s version of the holiday bird roasted with the property’s honey, fresh herbs, tamari and plenty of butter…
Flamingo Estate’s Roasted Dry Brine Turkey
1/3 cup Kosher Salt
1 12–14-lb. turkey
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
¼ cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp. honey
4 tsp. tamari or soy sauce
6 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs rosemary
1 sprig oregano
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Place turkey on a wire rack set inside of a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the entire turkey making sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies. Some of the salt will fall into the baking sheet, which is fine. Place into the fridge, uncovered for at least 14 hours and up to 2 full days.
Remove the turkey from the rack and rinse the baking sheet, there will be liquid that pooled. Line the baking sheet with foil, making sure to get the rim as well. Place the turkey breast side up on the rack. Let sit at room temperature for 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 450*
Take 4 tablespoons of butter and gently pulling back the skin smooth the butter between the skin and the meat. For the butter to smooth evenly both the butter and turkey will need to be at room temperature. Tie the legs together using kitchen twine. Add 1 cup water to the baking sheet, this will prevent the turkey drippings from burning to the pan.
Place turkey in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, rotate the pan and cook another 15 minutes.
Place the remaining butter, vinegar, honey, tamari, thyme, rosemary, oregano, black pepper and garlic in a small saucepot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until the glaze has thickened. Reduce temperature to the lowest heat possible to keep the glaze from hardening.
Reduce the oven temp to 325*. Continue cooking the turkey, basting with the glaze every 30 minutes and rotating the turkey. If the bottom of the pan beings to dry, add ½ cup water. After 60 minutes begin checking he temperature of the turkey. An instant read thermometer inserted into the breast should read 150. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests.
Remove the turkey from the oven and allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Reserve all the delicious dripping in the pan for gravy! Transfer to a cutting board and carve.