New this Thanksgiving: Turkey face masks

Turkey face masks use brine-soaked cheesecloth to keep your holiday bird from getting dried out and overcooked.

My friend, Angela McCrovitz, the owner of Captain’s House in Gary, Ind., is always up to something cool when it comes to food.

This Thanksgiving, she’s a vanguard of what she says will be a national trend: turkey face masks. If you Google it, you get links for turkey hunters. That’s how new it is.

When she asked me if I had any recipes for 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 add flavor to the turkey and keep it from overcooking and drying out. She’s created a variety of recipes that offer different flavor profiles for Thanksgiving dinner.

For all of the turkey face masks you see below, make the brine – choose the recipe below that fits best with your Thanksgiving meal – and soak a cheesecloth in it for 20 minutes.

Wrap your turkey with the cheesecloth so it covers the breast and part of the leg area.

Place the turkey, legs first, in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes while brushing cheesecloth and exposed turkey parts with the remainder of the 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 stick

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 tablespoons orange zest

2 quarts apple juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 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 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’s a fruity and tropical mask that adds tang to the holiday bird. Raw pineapple and onions increase the 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

Wild Turkey Manhattan Face Mask

A more concentrated flavor profile than wine, vermouth is the secret to adding complexity to the turkey.

6 quarts water

1 1/4 cups kosher salt

6 bay leaves

2 tablespoons coriander

1 tablespoon juniper berry

1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

1 tablespoon fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 medium onion, sliced

5 garlic cloves, crushed

Fresh thyme sprigs

3 cups vermouth


A perfect side for your turkey face masks:

Spinach & Artichoke Bread Pudding

2 pounds 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 together, and place in a 9-by-14-inch glass dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Jane Ammeson can be contacted via email at janeammeson@gmail.com or by writing to Focus, The Herald-Palladium, P.O. Box 128, St. Joseph, MI 49085.