Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Talk Turkey to Me.

Easter in my family is just another excuse to cook a giant turkey. Family gets together about mid-way until next Thanksgiving and what do we do? Have another Thanksgiving and justify it by saying it's for Easter. No we don't bake pumpkin pie or share our cornucopia's gourds to represent a harvest, and yes we have little white bunny rabbits everywhere, sometimes wearing bows around their necks, sometimes not, but the spirit is there. The spirit I talk of, is the spirit of getting ready to eat a large meal, directly followed by a beautiful nap. We clean, we cook, we meet and greet, set up, take down, and get knocked into comas. All for the turkey.
What was that? You don't like turkey?Let me guess, it's dry and flavorless, smothered in lumpy gravy to try and cover up the burned bits and sawdust texture?
Not anymore! This is a fool-proof recipe that can serve as a master recipe before the addition of spices and basting.
Here it is, blogspot community: A delicious turkey recipe that is sure to impress even your pickiest eaters. I guarantee it.

Let's brine this thing.
For a 16 pound turkey you will need:
For the brine:
1 gallon of low-sodium stock (vegetable preferably, or chicken)
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons allspice berries
2 teaspoons candied ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 cinnamon stick
1 gallon ice water

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the salt and sugar dissolve, releasing the flavor of the other ingredients.
The brining of this turkey will give it not only much needed moisture during the cooking process, but it will actually flavor the meat itself. Bland bird will never happen again.
Let's continue, shall we?
Once the ingredients have mixed wonderfully, turn off the stove and allow the brine to come to room temperature. Once this has happened, add the ice water, and submerge your thawed turkey. You may need to put the brine with the turkey in another pot that's large enough.
Place the turkey in it's brine into the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before you plan to cook it, or even up to 16 hours before.
Take the turkey out of the brine before cooking, and rinse the bird inside and out.

For the turkey:
1 apple sliced (green or red)
1 onion, sliced into wedges
2 cinnamon sticks
4 sprigs rosemary, 2 tablespoons chopped
10 sage leaves, 5 chopped
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
1/4 cup softened butter
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
Pat the turkey dry and place onto your roasting rack. Truss the legs and place into the cavity the apple, onion, cinnamon sticks, rosemary and sage sprigs. Combine the chopped rosemary, sage, thyme, butter, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Gently, run your fingers between the skin and meat of the turkey, creating a gap but not
puncturing the skin. Rub about half the butter mixture in the gap you just created, and spread the rest on the skin of the bird (not neglecting the legs and thighs! They're the best part!)
Place the turkey in the lowest part of your oven and roast for 35 minutes at 500 degrees.
Turn your oven down to 350 degrees and remove the bird from the oven.
Combine the maple syrup, water, and cayenne, and baste the bird with the mixture.
Place the turkey back into the oven and roast for a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the maple glaze.
Once the turkey has hit an internal temperature of 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast, remove it from the oven, tent it with foil, and let rest about 10 minutes before carving.
If the turkey starts to brown too much during cooking, tent the skin with foil for the remainder of the cooking.

I want to say that the leftovers make the best sandwiches and omelets, but let's get real. There won't be any leftovers.
To make a delicious gravy, simply take the bird out of the roasting pan and skim off the fat of the juices.
Place the pan over medium heat, bring to a simmer, whisk in 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and cook for about 3 minutes until the juices get thick. Whisk in about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/4 cup cream until the juices turn into a gravy consistency. Check the seasonings for salt and pepper, and there you have it!
Please make this. Please love it as much as my family does. They will never dread turkey day ever again.


  1. This looks beautiful. I am so happy to see a post from you!! I am very curious about brining a turkey.
    Question: Does it have to be ice water? Is that for flavor reasons, or just to speed the cooling down of the brine mixture?

  2. Thanks! :)
    Honestly, the brine without the ice water takes FOREVER to cool down to a safe temperature to place the turkey into. Since the turkey needs to be thawed before entering the brine, it's not safe to add to a warm water bath. Ice water speeds the whole thing up, and makes it nice and safe :)