IntroductionThis recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s classic roasted turkey recipe at Food Network (here). I’ve followed Brown’s methods in brining and roasting the bird, but added several ingredients to the brine and aromatic stuffing ingredients for the roast. For other helpful posts on the breast-side down technique, see Elise Bauer’s recipe for her mother’s roast turkey (here); for turkey roasting 101 in all of its details, see here. This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s classic roasted turkey recipe at Food Network (here). I’ve followed Brown’s methods in brining and roasting the bird, but added several ingredients to the brine and aromatic stuffing ingredients for the roast. For other helpful posts on the breast-side down technique, see Elise Bauer’s recipe for her mother’s roast turkey (here); for turkey roasting 101 in all of its details, see here.
*1 (14-15 lb.) turkey, thawed ahead of time
*1 cup kosher salt (or, 1 1/2-2 cups table salt)
*1/2 cup dark brown sugar
*1 gallon vegetable stock (I used 16-ounces chicken stock plus enough water to cover the bird (about 2/3 of a gallon))
*1 tablespoon black peppercorns
*1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
*1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, sliced into circular rounds (about 1/2 inch thick)
*1 Meyer lemon, halved
*1 gallon ice water
*1 green apple, sliced
*1 onion, halved
*1 tablespoon cinnamon
*3 star anises
*1 cup water
*1/2 cup basil, packed and roughly chopped
*1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
*4 celery ribs
*1 cup baby carrots
*1 onion, halved
*1 Meyer lemon, halved
*pepper, for rub
*olive oil, for rub
1.) Brine the bird. This step has been traditionally omitted by one of my aunts, and although I will never name names (the injustice!), I have experienced more than one Thanksgiving in the past ten years that featured a pretty dry and sad bird. Nothing’s worse than trying to figure out a way to clean your plate without choking….
2.) Roast turkey breast-side down. This idea is fairly new to me, but it makes complete sense: by roasting your turkey breast-side down, the juices are forced to run into the meatiest part of the bird and not evaporate or run off in the oven. This is another great technique for avoiding a bird that’s too dry.
3.) Temperature, temperature, temperature. Start with a high temperature for a quick burst of heat (usually 450F or 500F for 30 minutes) and then drop the temperature down to a lower, more stable degree setting for a short amount of time. The days of 4- and 5-hour roasts are behind me. Now, one can roast a turkey within 3 hours by using this technique.
4.) Stuff cavity with seasonal and flavorful aromatics. As a child, my New England aunts still stuffed their bird with bread-like stuffing that tasted great, but was a little bit dangerous to eat (something we know now–by the time the stuffing is safe to eat, the turkey is overcooked). Although I love the image of a bird bursting with stuffing, one of the problems with this step is how the bread pulls moisture away from the meat and into its cavity (which means – dry bird, but deliciously moist stuffing). Today, several of my friends have pointed out the perks of citrus season in south Louisiana. We can stuff our birds with Meyer lemons (as I do here), or even include satsumas, kumquats, you name it. Citrus adds beautiful flavor to the bird along with onions, winter herbs, and root vegetables.
*pan with roasting rack and trussing string
1.) Thaw turkey based on package instructions. The night before you plan to roast the bird, prepare your brine: Bring the salt, brown sugar, vegetable stock (and necessary water), peppercorns, allspice, ginger, and lemon to a boil in a large pot stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool.
2.) Assemble brine: Transfer infusion to 5-gallon bucket (or like receptacle) with ice water. Place turkey in brine (with innards removed) breast-side down, immerse, and cover. Refrigerate overnight for at least 8 hours but up to 16. (Note: in his episode for Good Eats, Brown weighs down the bird with a small bag of ice. I used a heavy (coated) cast-iron lid.)
3.) Prepare bird for roast: Preheat oven to 500F and setup pan with roasting rack. Remove turkey from brine and transfer to rack. Pat turkey dry all around. Meanwhile, assemble your mise en scéne–aromatics plus extra carrots, onion, and celery ribs.
4.) Prepare aromatics/stuffing: Combine first seven ingredients in a bowl, stir to combine, and microwave for five minutes on high to infuse and steep. While aromatics are microwaving, stuff turkey with next four ingredients. When aromatics are done, pour into the bird’s cavity.
5.) Cover cavity with aluminum foil and wrap legs tightly with trussing string.
6.) Pepper bird all over and drizzle with olive oil. Rub pepper and oil into the skin. Flip bird onto its breast and roast breast-side down.
7.) Roast bird for 30 minutes at 500F. Drop heat down to 350F and roast bird until a thermometer reads 161F at the thickest part of the breast (about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or see this guide at butterball for all of your cooking time and calculating needs). Rotate bird to its back 45 minutes to 1 hour before removing from oven to brown the breast thoroughly.
8.) Remove done bird from oven and rest for 15 minutes before carving. Makes 12-15 servings.
Serving Size: 12-15 servings
Number of Servings: 13
Recipe submitted by SparkPeople user HELANAB86.