Community Philosphy Blog and Library

HOMEGROWN Life: Snow on the Homestead and TURKEY, Baby!


We have snow, snow, and more snow, with a chance of … you guessed it, more snow. It hit us like a ton of bricks. Absolutely, not expected—especially since we are located so close to the water. Within an hour of it snowing, I panicked. We still have tomatoes on the vine, bunnies in the run, and a few beans still going. Oh, yeah. I almost forgot, we’ve got just a few kids running around too. Just twenty days ago we had records temps in the 70s, and did I mention, I still have tomatoes going? We were not prepared.

Tomatoes and bunnies are in the garage—warming up. Beans I guess are a loss. I picked what I could find, but it looks like the deer felt bad for them too and put them out of their misery early. Clearly, I should have had some emergency plan laid out or maybe I should have invested in this year’s Farmer’s Almanac instead of the 2011 edition. Or perhaps it’s just the way things are. What doesn’t make it will bring life in the spring as it’s transformed in the compost.

With all of that being said, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I’d like to share a recipe that has our family and friends coming back year after year. Our Brined BBQ Turkey. Hmmm … do I have you drooling yet?

You will need to start with a defrosted or fresh turkey. We typically have a 20-22 pound on hand. Yes, we need a turkey that size, and yes we keep multiple turkeys in our freezer—we love turkey year round, and why not?


Yummy, Moist Turkey a la the Cross Clan

4 cups of kosher salt

2 cups of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of black peppercorns

rosemary to taste

4 bay leaves


ice cubes

Don’t rinse that turkey off! Wipe it down with dry paper towels (or dish towels if you’re paper free). You’ll need a five gallon bucket, cleaned well. Yes, you’ll have to clean up the compost/weed/grain bucket, if you haven’t one set aside just for brine.

In your bucket, you’ll need to add brown sugar, kosher salt, pepper, bay leaves and rosemary to a half bucket of warm/hot water. Stir it up until the salt and sugar dissolve. Place your turkey upright, in the bucket. The turkey will make the water rise, not to mention you’re going to throw that ice on top too. You can switch this up if you’re afraid of spillage: turkey first, then water and ice. In the end, just make sure your turkey is covered with brine.

Put a cover on your bucket and let it sit for 24-36 hours. You will need to check the water temp from time to time. You want to keep it below 40 degrees, but you have some options here. You can add more ice if your bucket is big enough and keep it outside or in the garage. We’ve done both with no trouble. Or keep ice packs bungee corded around the bucket and rotate the frozen one. I haven’t tried this, but I bet it works well.

Whenever you’re ready to cook that bird, you’ll want to preheat your oven or gas BBQ grill to 350 degrees. Yes, the grill! We found that this way of cooking it is freakin’ awesome and it doesn’t take as long. If using the grill, be sure to place an old/disposable cookie sheet under the turkey, or the flames can’t help but lick the bird. It also helps to catch the drippings. For the oven, just use a standard roasting pan.

After 24-36 hours, pull your turkey from the bucket and discard the brine. Slice up ½ cup of butter and slide those little pats right under the skin of the breast. We have been known to spice it up a bit and slide rosemary up there too. Transfer your beautiful, brined turkey to your cooking choice and place breast up to start. Set a timer for thirty minutes. Be sure and keep an eye on the temperature of the grill, as it will drop and spike. When the thirty minutes is up, rotate your turkey ¼ turn, to its side. Set the timer for fifteen minutes. Again, keep an eye on the grill temperature throughout this process. When it’s time, rotate the bird so it’s cooking breast down for thirty minutes. Then rotate to the side for another fifteen minutes. Now’s the fun part. Rotate it back to breast up, give it a sweet aluminum foil canopy, and put it back in there for about an hour. A thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the thigh meat but not touching any bone should read 180.

That’s it. Of course, when it’s time to pull it out, be sure to let it rest. You can remove it from the roasting pan to a platter, but let it sit for a good 20 minutes or more before carving. My husband can never wait. He’s always pulling crispy skin and tender meat, wiping up the juices long before he should.

However you prepare your turkey, your meals, or for the worst weather, we are thankful to be able to share our recipe with you. We also wish you and your family nothing but the best this holiday season.

Tory’s blog is ChampagneWishesAndCouponDreams.

Tory, Sequim, WA

I live in the Pacific Northwest with my non-tree-hugging, environmentally friendly, dreamin’-of-farming husband and our four wild, dirt-lovin’ kids. When I’m not writing of the adventures (or misadventures) on our micro-homestead, you might find me stalking Craigslist, Freecycle, or Facebook. And since I’m all about multitasking, I’ll probably be out gardening, baking, menu planning, home educating, exploring with the kiddos, and scheming on how to get chickens past my HOA.

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