The star — the main attraction! For many, that is the turkey at Thanksgiving. Our turkey came from our local butcher, Westphalia Market, and was raised on a small farm.
My favorite way to prepare turkey is to brine it starting the day before. It always comes out so juicy and flavorful. Alas, the brine and the cavity aromatics I used this year for our Thankful with Friends is a family recipe and I am unable to share it. Instead, I will share another terrific brine that Alton Brown uses. And since the method in which we cooked our turkey was also his method, it all works out well!
Brined Roast Turkey — from Alton Brown’s Good Eats Season 1
12-16 lb turkey
1 gallon vegetable broth
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp allspice berries
1 1/2 Tbs candied ginger
1 gallon water — with lots of ice in it
1 red apple, quartered
1/2 onion, quartered
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Combine the broth, salt, sugar, peppercorns, allspice, and ginger in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the brine.
The eve before roasting, combine the brine and iced water in a cooler. Place the thawed turkey (make sure the neck and gizzards are removed) breast side down in the brine. Seal up the cooler. Flip the bird once halfway through. You want to make sure that the turkey brines for at least 12 hours.
Day of roasting, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out. Discard brine.
Place the bird on a roasting rack and place inside a roasting pan. Pat the turkey dry (inside and out) with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon, and water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add to the turkey’s cavity, along with the rosemary and sage.
Lightly coat the bird with canola oil. Roast the bird on the lowest rack of the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove turkey from the oven and insert a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and cover the turkey breasts with a tin foil “tent” (make sure it hugs the bird). The tin foil “tent” will keep the breast meat from over cooking and drying out.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast the turkey until the thermometer registers at 161 degrees.
Remove from the oven, cover entire turkey loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.
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