Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving turkey

Not fishing this week as we are planning to have Thanksgiving with my wife's parents who were not able to make it up to our place this year. Therefore I am working on the turkey today that we will take to them tomorrow.

For the past 14 years or so, I have been roasting a turkey on our smoker grill outside. I use a combination of mesquite wood and charcoal. Charcoal to help keep some consistent heat and the mesquite for the wood flavor. Originally, I tried smoking a turkey at the lower temperatures but that took forever. I usually had to start past midnight to ensure it was done for dinner in the evening. I now just roast it at a higher temperature simply for convenience and due to the fact that I brine the turkey for around 12 hours, it does not affect the juiciness of the meat.

As I mentioned, the brine has been the key to maintaining a moist turkey. I basically use the following (for a 12 to 14 pound turkey):
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup kosher or non iodized salt
  • 1/2 cup dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dried rosmary
I stir that all together in a pot big enough to hold the turkey fully submerged in the brine and chill it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. I add the thawed turkey in the brine and then refrigerate once more for 8 to 12 hours.

The morning I prepare the fire, I remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it off and put in an aluminum pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. I then roast it for whatever length of time it needs for the size and towards the last two or three hours, I remove the foil to brown the turkey. If you don't use foil, due to the wood smoke, the turkey will come out almost black and the mesquite flavor will be a bit too strong.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Paddle, fish, eat, sleep

Thursday afternoon I drove down to Corpus Christi to get in some fishing before the cold front arrived early Saturday morning. My cousin had planned for us to fish a few spots in the Laguna Madre from our kayaks. It would turn out to be a long day.

We got started around 8am fishing along the JFK bridge that spans over to North Padre Island. I picked up one keeper trout and the occasional "dinker". We paddled for almost 3 miles around the bridge and just not finding any decent fish. We were also dodging showers and towards the end of the morning I could see a whiteout on the opposite side of the bridge so we anchored underneath the bridge just as a small squall passed through with some heavy showers and rain. We decided to load up and drive to a different spot once it cleared.

This other location had some deeper holes as well as lots of oyster shell and looked much more promising plus no rain in sight anywhere. No sooner than we got there, we picked up a few undersized redfish. Moving along to shallower water, I later picked up a 21" redfish, lost another and then before leaving caught a 23" redfish. I thought I was going to lose that last one as it made a run under my kayak, the line wrapper around my paddle. As I struggled to undo that lifting the paddle with one hand while still fighting the fish with the other, I got it free and then the line got wrapped up with the stringer I had the first redfish tied to. Luckily the second redfish reversed direction and somehow got untangled and I directed him to the starboard side of the kayak where I finally netted him. Victory! One interesting feature of this redfish was the spot on the tail looked sort of like a heart shape which you can see in the photo. BTW, the rechargeable batteries in my digital camera no longer hold a charge worth a darn so I had to take these photos with my camera phone.

Later that evening with fished near Bird Island Basin and I was only able to pick up a couple of keeper trout. We were so tired that we were done by 10pm. Almost 14 hours fishing off and on that day.

On Saturday, the cold front came through as predicted bring rain, high winds and colder temperatures. In a way, I was glad because I don't think I could have paddled around and fished all day again. So, we had a good breakfast, cleaned the fish and as we got back to my cousin's home we saw this old 20s Ford at the end of the street. One of my cousin's neighbors restored old Ford's and he had a couple of beautiful ones in his garage that he was working on. I never knew that.

On Saturday evening after I had gotten back home, I went over to my brother-in-law's home and prepared the redfish on the half shell on the grill and we had that for dinner before watching the Manny Pacquiao / Antonio Margarito boxing match on pay-per-view. It was a great evening. Later in the week, we'll have some of the trout for dinner as well.

As always, I had a great time with my cousin and his wife and hope to see them again soon.