Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that turkey & gravy is one of my favorite meals. Because of that, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. However, despite loving turkey as much as I do, I'd never made one. So, last weekend, I decided to take the plunge and make one. I do have to say it was the best turkey I've ever eaten (no offense to my family). It was so juicy and flavorful - everything a turkey should be.
To any family members who may be reading this - don't worry.
I used this picture because my gravy-laden plate didn't
photograph very well.
To start, I brined the turkey overnight using a variation of Pioneer Woman's turkey brine:
1 1/2 gallons water
2 cups apple juice
1 cup sea salt (plus a few shakes extra)
2 cups brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
5 bay leaves
3 TBSP whole black peppercorns
1 TBSP dried rosemary
Combine all in a really big stock pot (at least 8 qt) and bring to a boil. Stir. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and allow the mixture to come to room temperature. Once it cools, put in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.
Once you're ready to brine the turkey, put the turkey in a brining bag or a really huge pot and pour the cool liquid over the turkey. Place in the fridge or in another cold place up to 24 hrs.
*This recipe works for an up-to 20 lb turkey. Do not use if you're using a frozen turkey injected with a sodium solution - it works best for a fresh turkey or a frozen turkey without that sodium solution.
Once you're ready to cook the turkey, take it out of the brine and rinse it with cold water. Pat dry. Put in a turkey roaster on a roasting rack, sprinkle with a little salt & pepper, stuff the cavity with onion, celery, and garlic cloves (optional, but helps with flavor), and add a bit of liquid to the bottom of the pan, and cover tightly with foil.
Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs.
Just before 1 1/2 hrs, melt a half stick of butter.
After 1 1/2 hrs, remove the turkey from the oven and increase heat to 375 degrees. Baste with butter all over the bird.
Put back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and baste again. Bake for another 30 minutes.
At this point, the turkey should be done, but if the thermometer hasn't popped up yet, baste with more butter and return to the oven. Baste every 30 minutes until the turkey thermometer pops, or the turkey is no more than 165 degrees.
Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Serve with mashed potatoes & gravy.
adapted from allrecipes.com
4 cups turkey stock (chicken stock will work, but do try to get turkey stock)
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp poultry seasoning
~1 tsp salt (to taste)
turkey drippings, to taste (I used about 1 1/2 gravy ladles full)
Combine butter & flour. Add turkey stock, poultry seasoning and salt and whisk together. Bring to a low boil. Add turkey drippings and whisk to combine. Keep on low until the turkey is ready.