Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Turkey Turkey!

I know, I know, Thanksgiving is over; however, I didn't get a chance to share my first turkey experience.  Even though I was ridiculously busy with school, I still found time to make a turkey.  Well, I sort of found time :)
Justin and I were having a few people over for an early Thanksgiving before all my pharmacy friends left town for break.  I had the turkey brining and was prepared to come home after my 11am class to finish preparing it an put it in the oven before my 5pm test.  BUT, I forgot that I had a 1pm presentation...yikes!  No worries folks, Justin to the rescue.  I called my husband, explained to him exactly what to do and he took care of it like a pro.  Unfortunately, I forgot to tell him about the step where you cover the bird in oil with a pastry brush.  When he put the turkey in the oven at 500, it started smoking like crazy and set off our fire alarm.  Once he added the oil the smoking reduced, but it was still somewhat ridiculous. So, he just reduced the temperature before the recipe indicated, but it still turned out great!
Also, because we were both so busy, I decided to scratch the "aromatics," although next year I fully intend on making this bird again and adding that step back.  Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  I definitely recommend bookmarking this recipe for next year ;)

1 (14-16 lb.) fresh turkey*

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt**
½ cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1½ tsp. allspice berries
1½ tsp. choppe candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water (or enough to cover your turkey)

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
½ onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

To prepare the brine, combine the salt, brown sugar, vegetable stock, peppercorns, allspice and ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the solids.  Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until ready to use.

The night before you plan to serve the turkey, combine the brine and ice water in a 5 gallon bucket (I actually used a square cooler with a removable liner, worked perfectly!).  Place the thawed turkey (innards removed) breast side down in the brine.  If necessary, weigh down the bird so it is fully immersed.  Cover and refrigerate or set in a cool area for 8-16 hours, turning once halfway through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500˚ F.  Remove the bird from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water.  Discard the brine.

Place the bird on the wire rack inside a roasting pan.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick and  1 cup water in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Add the steeped aromatics to the cavity of the turkey along with the rosemary and sage.  Tuck the wings underneath the bird and brush the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on the lowest rack of the oven at 500˚ F for 30 minutes.  Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and lower the oven temperature to 350˚ F.  Set the thermometer alarm, if available, for 161˚ F.  (A 14-16 lb. bird will take about 2-2½ hours.)  Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

*I actually made a 22 lbs. bird with this recipe, it just took a little longer to cook.

** If you are using a frozen turkey, rather than fresh, I recommend that you reduce the amount of salt to at least 3/4c if not 1/2c since frozen turkey already contain a lot of sodium. I used frozen this year, but next year I'm going to use fresh. I think the holiday season calls for the best quality ingredients available. I guarantee you will notice a difference in taste.  

Source: Alton Brown via Food Network

Beautiful! Thanks to my wonderful husband ;)


  1. I'm sad I missed Justin's cooking debut!

  2. That's my son in-law! :-)