01. December 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Turkey · Tags: ,

turkey 4Every family has its own way of preparing turkey for Thanksgiving. But who says that we only can eat turkey on Thanksgiving? This juicy turkey will be perfect for Christmas table or any other big family dinner.
You have to be patient and allow a little time for the turkey to brine, and it will pay off.  I have never had a more juicy or flavorful turkey. But the best part is that there is not a lot work to do other than putting the bird in the brine, and then putting it in the oven.
I relied on Alton Brown’s recommendations for the brining ingredients and gravy, and I must say it works perfectly every time I make the turkey.

My husband and I started a new tradition of “second Thanksgiving” where we cook another turkey a day after we have our main holiday feast with friends and family. And the best part of it is that we have the whole mighty bird for ourselves :) .

Serving:  With a 14 pound/6,5 kg turkey you should be able to have 8-10 servings plus some leftovers for the next day.
Preparation:  Brining: from 1 to 3 days, Stock: 2 hours
Preparation on the day of cooking: 20 minutes
Roasting the turkey: 2h 30 minutes (for 14 pounds/6,5kg turkey)
4 oz/113g of turkey breast – 215
4 oz/113g of turkey wing with skin – 260
4 oz/113g of turkey leg with skin – 240

1 gallon/3,9l vegetable stock
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
2 tablespoons of allspice berries
2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon/3,9l cold/iced water

1 red apple, quartered
½ onion, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs of sage (10-15 leaves)
2 tablespoons of canola oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of kosher salt

Turkey Giblet Gravy:

Giblet stock – you can prepare few days in advance:
1 tablespoon of canola oil
Turkey neck (saved from the turkey)
Turkey giblets, except for the liver
1 small onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, quartered
1 stalk celery, quartered
¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
6 cups of water
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns

Giblet Gravy:
1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of potato starch/potato flour
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

I recommend 2-3 days for brining the turkey; however, even an overnight brine will make a huge difference. If you are using a frozen turkey, thaw it in the fridge for 2 days.
On the day of brining, combine all the spices with stock and water and bring it to boil. Cool it down and then add the ice water. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and transfer it to a large 5 gallon/23l bucket and cover it with more ice. If your turkey is sticking above the surface make sure you turn the bird once a day so that the brine will go through the whole turkey. Refrigerate or set in a cool basement for one night or up to 3 days. If you decide to keep it for longer than one night, open the bucket everyday to make sure there is still some ice floating on the surface. If not, add more.

On the day when you remove the giblets and neck it would be a good idea to prepare the stock and set it aside in the fridge to make the gravy on the day of roasting.
Heat the canola oil in a small pot over medium heat, add the neck and giblets and sauté them for 4 minutes until they get brown. Add the onion, carrot, celery and kosher salt. Cook it for about 5 minutes and stir it occasionally. Pour in the water, and then add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and black peppercorns. Bring it to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 ½ hours. The stock will reduce to 3 cups. Strain the stock and set it aside to cool down. Once it’s cooled you can store it in the fridge until roasting day.

On the day of roasting, remove the bird from the brine and rinse it well. Put it on a large board and pat it dry with paper towel. Sprinkle the kosher salt and let it sit outside to get to room temperature. In the meantime prepare the aromatics that you will use to stuff the turkey to get some extra moisture and flavor.

raw turkey

Cut the apple into quarters and put it into a microwave safe bowl, then add the cinnamon stick, quartered onion and cup of water. Put it into microwave on high for 5 minutes. Let it cool down for 5 minutes and add that apple, onion and cinnamon inside the cavity of the turkey. Add the rosemary sprigs and sage.  Save two leaves of the sage and try to stick it under the skin together with some slices of butter. The butter will bring some extra crispiness and flavor to the skin. When the turkey is ready tie the legs with kitchen twine and tuck the wings underneath the bird so that they don’t burn.

Preheat the oven to 500 F/260C.

Place the turkey on the rack breast up. Coat the turkey with canola oil. Don’t add too much because it will produce a lot of smoke with that high temperature and, believe me, the last thing you want is a fire truck coming over to your house. Unfortunately I found out that the hard way. Since then I never coat it with a lot of canola oil and have an eye on the oven for the first 30 minutes before I lower the temperature.
Before you put the bird into the oven prepare a little tin foil “hat” for the breast part of the turkey. It should cover the breast, but leave the drumsticks exposed.  Do it before you put it in the oven and set it aside so that when the time comes to cover it you will have a ready protection hat to slide onto the breast.

Insert a thermometer probe into the thickest part of the breast and set the internal temperature for 160F/71C degrees.

Roast the turkey on the lowest oven rack at 500F/260C for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350F/175C. My 14 pound/6,5kg turkey roasted for total of 2 ½ hours. The time may change depending on the size of the bird and your oven; that’s why it’s really worth investing in a good food thermometer because you will always know when you reach the desired internal temperature.

After the first hour of roasting you may need to put the tin foil hat over the breast. I usually keep it on for the other hour and take it off for the final 30 minutes of roasting. This way it will not be burned but it will get that beautiful golden color on the bird’s skin.

When you see that your turkey is around 140F/60C you can start preparing the gravy.
Take your giblet stock and put 2 cups into a pot and start warming it up. Take the other cup and divide into two jars or food storage containers. Add all purpose flour into one ½ cup of stock and then add the potato starch/potato flour into another ½ cup of stock. Shake them vigorously until the flour dissolves. Add the stock with the all purpose flour to the stock in the pot and bring it boil. Cook it for 3 minutes until it thickens slightly. Turn the heat down and add the other stock with potato starch. Whisk it and change the heat into medium. The gravy will thicken. Add the chopped rosemary, sage, and thyme. Simmer for 2 more minutes and put it aside. Don’t salt it yet because you will still add the turkey drippings at the end and that will take your gravy to the next level.

When the turkey is ready, take it out and let it rest for 10 minutes. In the meantime get the turkey drippings from the roasting pan and add them to the gravy. Avoid adding the fat. You can use the fat strainer if that helps but I usually get it with the spoon. The gravy will immediately change color and taste. Warm it up and add salt and pepper to your taste. Strain the gravy to get rid of any lumps of flour or turkey drippings and chopped herbs you added earlier.


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