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Turkey wars in Washington: Obama pardons, Boehner brines

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP

(Read caption) President Obama (r.) pardons 'Cheese,' the turkey at the White House on Wednesday, during the annual Thanksgiving ceremony. Cole Cooper (far l.) and his father Gary Cooper, chairman of the National Turkey Federation, helped hold 'Cheese' during the event.

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Lots of gobbling in Washington on Wednesday. At the White House, President Obama did the traditional thing and pardoned the national Thanksgiving turkey. Actually, two birds were involved – one named “Mac” and the other named “Cheese.” 

In an online contest, the nation chose to spare Cheese, but Mac – the alternate – was also subject to the president's executive action. "Some will call this 'amnesty,' " he joked. 

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The 50-pounders hail from Ohio, the home state of Republican House Speaker John Boehner. In his family, he’s responsible for turkey preparation – not pardon – and on Wednesday he shared his secret to the perfect bird: a maple syrup brine

For those folks searching the web for what exactly to do with a bird, Speaker Boehnerin a little video, walks viewers through a recipe that he says he has perfected over the last five years. His instructions, delivered from Capitol Hill, are interspersed with video of him in a white crisp shirt and green apron, moving about in his home kitchen.

Besides the brine, he advocates cooking the turkey breast-down, then flipping it over halfway through. When he takes it out of the oven, he covers it with foil and lets it sit for at least an hour. “It’s the resting time that really works,” he says, knowingly.

The ingredients of the Boehner Brine:

  • 8 quarts water
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 cups Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 16-ounces pure maple syrup

The directions, per the speaker’s office:

“Bring the brine close to a boil, then let it cool. Put a bag in a five-gallon bucket. Wash the turkey and remove the insides. Put the turkey in the bucket.  Pour the brine over to cover the turkey. Keep the turkey submerged. Let it stand overnight in the refrigerator or outside, if it is cool enough. After 24 hours, take it out and rinse it off. At that point, it’s ready to be cooked.” 

A follow-up, please, Mr. Speaker: Who can fit a five-gallon bucket in their refrigerator at this time of year? Yes, you say outside will do, but what if you live in Florida?

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No satisfying the media. But hopefully, this recipe will satisfy hungry diners.