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Let’s Talk Turkey…

November 19, 2010

Everyone knows the star of the show on Thanksgiving is the turkey.  (Although I like to think mashed potatoes should definitely receive an award for best supporting dish. )  That being said, it is tremendous pressure that the most important dish can be the trickiest to  make.  Enter the recipe I am about to share.  I have done LOTS of research over the past few years and I honestly think brining creates the best result.  In particular, of all the reviews I have read, this recipe receives the best endorsements by far.  Plus, I can say from experience that while using brine is extra work it makes a tremendous difference.

Roast Turkey
Yields: 12 Servings

1 14-16 pound Frozen young turkey
1 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup Light brown sugar
1 gallon Vegetable stock
1 tablespoon Black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons Allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons Candied ginger (chopped)
1 gallon Heavily iced water
1 Red apple (sliced)
1/2 Onion (sliced)
1 Cinnamon stick
1 cup Water
4 Fresh rosemary sprigs
6 Sage leaves
Canola oil

1. 2 to 3 days before roasting, begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
2. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
3. Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat, combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
5. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
6. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
7. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes before carving.

Kate’s Thoughts

I would recommend preparing the brine the day or night before to allow the turkey to sit for 16-24 hours.  Be sure the turkey is fully thawed before you start this process and that you’ve removed the innards.  Brining should only be done on fresh turkeys, as most frozen turkeys are injected with a saline solution and the end result would be a very salty bird.  Read the label carefully if you are unsure whether this might be the case for your turkey.  Also, be sure you select a bucket large enough as the turkey will displace quite a bit of liquid once it is immersed.

I wish I had pictures to share of the process, but I promise it seems more complicated than it actually is.  Good luck and, of course, Happy Thanksgiving!

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