I love a weird recipe. Mixing sweet and savory when inappropriate… using annoyingly obscure spices… testing out dishes of unknown origin with names I can’t pronounce… I’m down. But when it comes to Thanksgiving Turkey I tend to avoid the overall “Bon Appetit-y” curried turkey with thai chili’s wrapped in pork belly and unicorns or whatever they are pushing as this year’s new take on a Thanksgiving classic. I just like a fool proof recipe. One where I don’t have to stress, leaving me to focus my efforts on consuming delicious food. That’s what this recipe is… it is completely taken from Alton Brown and it’s the most popular recipe on the Food Network website. Consistent, juicy… overall perfect. I will be making it this week but found a few pictures of last year’s bird to share with any of you looking for a last minute recipe for your tryptophan source.
1 (14-16) pound turkey (begin thawing out two-three days in advance if frozen)
For the brine (that you cannot dare skip):
1 cup kosher salt
0.5 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorn
1.5 teaspoons allspice berries
1.5 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics (fancy):
1 red apple, sliced
0.5 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
As stated above, if your turkey is frozen, begin thawing two to three days before. Very important.
Combine 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. Them remove the brine from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
The night before Thanksgiving:
Eat light… you have a big meal tomorrow. Also, combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket (I actually bought an unused small garbage can for this). Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. You will need to weigh this down some how to make sure the bird is fully immersed (I used a coffee cup). Cover, and refrigerate or set in a cool area (garage if it’s freezing out which it is supposed to be) for 8-16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Brine can now be thrown away (bye brine love you mean it).
Place the bird on a roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels (I just buy the little throw away pan you can get at the store).
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for five minutes. Add these 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.
Roast the turkey on the lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a prove thermometer into thicket part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14-16 pound bird should require a total of 2-2.5 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for 15 minutes before carving.
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 or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.