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Turkey Masks: How to Make A Better Holiday Turkey

My friend Angela McCrovitz, owner of the Captain’s House in Miller Beach, which is a Lake Michigan beach enclave on the east side of Gary, Indiana is always up to something cool when it comes to food.

For this Thanksgiving she’s in vanguard of what she tells me will be a national trend by sharing several recipes for turkey masks (if you Google it, you get links for turkey hunters—that’s how new it is). When she first asked me if I had heard of them, I was thinking it was some type of face mask or costume for a Thanksgiving turkey. But no. For Angela, it’s cheesecloth soaked in different brines to both add flavor to the turkey and keep it from overcooking and drying out. She’s created a variety of recipes that certainly offer different flavor profiles for Thanksgiving dinner.

For all turkey masks:

Make brine (choose the recipe below that fits best with your Thanksgiving meal) and soak a cheesecloth in brine for 20 minutes.

Wrap the turkey with cheesecloth so it covers the breast and part of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first in oven and roast 30 minutes while brushing cheesecloth and exposed turkey parts with remainder of brine. Then cook your turkey using your favorite method.

APPLE, MAPLE, BROWN SUGAR FACE MASK:

The apple juice in this face mask gives the slightest hint of tartness that fills out the flavors of the turkey. Add to it brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and orange zest and you have a bright, flavorful and tangy flavor profile.

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 quart water

10 whole cloves

1 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 tablespoons orange zest

2 quarts apple juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

½ cup maple syrup

2 bay leaves

CITRUS TURKEY FACE MASK:

The citrus not only adds tangy flavors but also tenderizes the bird. Acidic lemons, oranges and limes, help carry flavors deep into the meat, adding onion, garlic, salt and sugar adds a nice savory touch.

1 gallon water

1 cup kosher salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 large lime

1 lemon

1 orange

1 onion (cut into thick slices)

4 cloves garlic (crushed)

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon thyme (dried)

POLYNESIAN FACE MASK:

Fruit and fruit juices are a common way to tenderize meat, peels and seeds are used in many cultures to infuse flavor into meats, but also to make tough cuts of meat softer and juicier. This Hawaiian-style mask includes pineapple, sugar, soy sauce, maple syrup, dry herbs, and garlic. It is a fruity and tropical mask which adds tang to the holiday bird. Raw pineapple and onions increase extra fragrance and flavors.

3 quarts pineapple juice

2 cups dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups soy sauce

1 cup light maple syrup

1 cup kosher salt

8 cloves garlic

4 bay leaves

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

A WILD TURKEY MANHATTAN FACE MASK:

A more concentrated flavor profile than wine, vermouth is the secret for adding complexity to the turkey making this a favorite mask.

6 quarts water

1 ¼ cups kosher salt

6 bay leaves

2 tablespoons coriander

1 tablespoon juniper berry

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

1 tablespoon fennel seed

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

1 medium onion sliced

5 garlic cloves crushed

Fresh thyme sprigs

3 cups vermouth

A PERFECT SIDE FOR OUR TURKEY FACE MASKS

Spinach & Artichoke Bread Pudding (Our Substitute for Stuffing)

2 pounds of bread cut into cubes

18 eggs

1 quart heavy whipping cream

2 cups spinach artichoke dip

4 cups fresh spinach rough cut chopped

1 cup oysters diced

2 garlic cloves

1 jar artichoke heart halves

Mix all ingredients and place in 9×14 glass dish, bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at janeammeson@gmail.com 

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