Thanksgiving is just a few days away. My turkey is thawed and awaiting its initial brine before being cooked for the family. The Cornerstone Oregon 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and 2011 Chardonnay have been dropped off at my mother’s house so they are at cellar temp before dinner. For good measure, I’ve included a few bottles our 2012 Corallina Rosé as I find rosé to be one of the most versatile wines for the Thanksgiving meal.
My challenge this year? How to cook a 24lb turkey for a room full of foodies... Listening to Science Friday on NPR last week, Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks, Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food, offered a few ideas that I’m going to try out.
The USDA recommends cooking the bird to 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safety reasons. 165 is an instant kill temperature, where at that temperature for just few seconds any and all bacteria dies. Other temperatures will also make for a safe bird, as long as holding times are taken into consideration.
At 160 degrees, you need to hold the turkey for 30 seconds. At 155 degrees, you need to hold at this temperature for 1 minute. You can listen to the whole Science Friday story below via the provided link for more information. Cooking the turkey at a low temperature prevents muscle fibers from becoming tough, thus resulting in a tender bird.
If you want to cook your turkey low and slow, one can get their turkey down to a safe internal temperature and the desired juicy result, as long as you hold the bird at 150 degrees for 5 or more minutes. Allowing the turkey to rest for another 30 minutes should allow the internal temperature to reach between 155-160 degrees.
Jeff recommended cooking the turkey legs and breasts separately. This is due to to the muscle composition of each part being comprised of different fibers with differing proteins and connective tissues. While this takes away from the ascetic presentation of the turkey, you gain the advantage of being able to cook the legs in a way that is more conducive to their proteins and connective tissue (higher in collagen). The breasts are also able to be cooked in a manner that is beneficial for their fast twitch muscle fibers. Serious Eats recommends cooking the breasts to a temperature of 145 degrees.
There are various methods that people use to determine when a turkey is cooked. These range from seeing what color the meat is (different shades of pink, which influenced by a number of factors) to waiting for the juices to run clear. All that really matters is temperature and holding time. Be safe and use a probe thermometer.
This year I am cooking the turkey for 23 people. I plan on cooking the legs and breasts separately. The legs will be done via confit while the breasts will be roasted. All served with a generous glass of Cornerstone Oregon 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
To listen to the Science Friday segment which inspired this post, please click here. Always remember to trust your own judgement and be careful if anyone pregnant or with a compromised immune system is at your Thanksgiving table. -Alex
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Winemaking is a journey with no end. You set goals, but as you achieve them you just have higher aspirations. The more you achieve, the more you know there is to achieve. With the two Cabernets you have we are now releasing we have achieved a goal we set for ourselves, but now our vision for what we will achieve in the future is even sharper.
Our first goal was to craft wines with elegance and finesse while still honoring the power, which is an accurate expression of Napa Valley terroir. It was also our goal to achieve wines with appropriate levels of alcohol. We do not simply want to have low alcohol levels for the sake of that alone by following some pre-set recipe, but to produce wines from grapes harvested at just the right moment, the moment that defines that vintage. We don't want underripe grapes anymore than overripe ones. Perhaps the most important thing to us is having acid levels that make the wines refreshing, even in their youth. What you will not get from us are wines suffering from the "big wine" syndrome so favored by certain well known critics. What you will get are wines that fire up your saliva glands with the zesty acidity required to truly compliment cuisine. If you like massive, oaky cabernet with 16% alcohol (no matter what it says on the label) with high pH and residual sugar you won't like these wines and we can live with that. Our first goal is to make wines we love to drink and our second goal is to find wine lovers who agree with us. We are not interested in making wines that try to satisfy the broadest range of consumers possible.
The 2010 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon releases reflect well this vision. They are very different wines telling two distinct stories. We make different wines for that very reason as we find each expresses aspects of the Napa Valley well worth telling. By Napa Valley standards 2010 was a cooler vintage, which means by Bordeaux standards it was a a very good year. It reemphasizes my opinion that the problem vintages in Napa are the hot ones , not the cooler ones. The cooler weather helped us towards our goal to make balanced wines. While the "big wine" folks struggled with 2010, we loved it.
The 2010 Cornerstone Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon expresses the personality of three exceptional vineyards: Ink Grade on Howell Mountain, Oakville Station in the To Kalon district and Kairos in Oak Knoll. They weave together to produce a wine that reflects the character of the Napa Valley as a whole. The power and structure of Howell Mountain combines with the rich velvety Oakville Station and both are lifted by the bright aromatics and freshness of Kairos. However, cabernet sauvignon alone does not tell the whole story in this wine. Often I find that cabernet sauvignon on its own has a big start and finish, but can be a bit hollow in the middle. Here is where cabernet franc and merlot come in. A touch of merlot fills that hole in the middle and brings a beautiful silky texture. Cabernet franc is like MSG in a dish lifting and defining flavors. Together they achieve umami, that elusive savory personality that defines great wine.
The 2010 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine of time and place. Sourced from the organically farmed Ink Grade Vineyard on the high slopes on the east side of Howell Mountain. Grown on the distinctive powdery, white tufa soils as contrasted to the red, clay based soils on many Howell Mountain vineyards, this is a firmly structured wine, which we make to express, not hide its richly tannic character. This is a wine born and made to age. I recommend waiting five or more years to let the many layers in this wine to expand and integrate. If you can't wait an hour or two in a decanter will help reveal the treasures still hiding in this young wine. Once again, a small touch of merlot is added to expand the textures on the palate.
Perhaps the most important thing to me is these wines give me the complete experience that I seek in wine: lifted aromatics, brightness on the palate, refreshing flavors and long, layered flavors that go on and on. Most of all they are wines that make me want a second glass. There is no such thing as a perfect wine, but in the fact that these wines purely represent the vineyard, vintage and varieties that gave them birth, I feel perfectly wonderful about them.