Turkey – Alton Brown style

As a note, this is a fairly labor-intensive recipe, so it’s not for the high-stress cook come Thanksgiving. I may prefer my method this year, an herb butter method I’ll detail later on.

*1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen turkey

For the brine:

*1 cup kosher salt

*1/2 cup light brown sugar

*1 gallon vegetable broth

*1 tablespoon black peppercorns

*1/2 tablespoon allspice berries (I can never find these, and just use powdered)

*1/2 tablespoon crystallized ginger

*1 gallon iced water

For the aromatics:

*1 red apple, sliced

*1/2 onion, sliced

*1 cinnamon stick

*1 cup water

*4 sprigs rosemary

*6 leaves sage

*Canola oil

Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.

A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.

Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.

Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola oil.

Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Gravy from turkey drippings

*1 cup red wine

*2 cups chicken broth

*1 bay leaf

*5 to 6 black peppercorns

Remove turkey from pan and pour off any fat. Place over high heat (use 2 burners if necessary) and deglaze pan with wine and broth, scraping any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. Once these solids are dissolved, pour liquid into a saucepan and add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Reduce for 5 minutes over high heat or until reduced by 1/3.

To create a gravy, reduce the heat to medium and whisk in 2 tablespoons of white roux. Return to a simmer, whisking constantly. Continuing to cook once a simmer has been reached will result in a smoother sauce, but not a thicker one.
Since all starch thickened sauces thicken as they cool, it’s a good idea to make your gravy a little on the loose side.

Roux recipe:

*6 tablespoons flour

Heat fat or over medium high heat. Add flour all at once whisking vigorously. When mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce heat to low and cut back on the whisking. Cook until you smell a toasty aroma then cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Roux can be used immediately to thicken a liquid that is at or below room temperature. To thicken a hot liquid, allow roux to cool to room temperature, or refrigerate.

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Filed under main dishes, poultry

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