Yesterday, we ate the Good Eats Turkey after having diligently followed the directions of Alton Brown. It was juicy, tender and very good. Not exceptional, but very good. I’d give it four out of five stars. Note this organic turkey had been full submerged in an icy brine bath overnight, rinsed, then stuffed with an aromatic bouquet of apples, onions, cinnamon, rosemary and thyme and generously rubbed in canola oil. We then put it at very high heat for 30 minutes to give it that beauty glow you see in the picture and then reduced the heat to 350. It was in the oven for just under 2 hours, sat for another hour outside and then was carved up for the crowd. It was very good and pretty.
But I think perhaps next year I will go the simple route. This year I had been lured by this crafty way of preparing the turkey. I mean it sounds pretty cool to say that you gave your turkey a briny icy bath before shoving it into the oven at high heat, no? But I’m not sure that the craftiness added all that much for the effort it entailed.
A few comments about my brining experience. You need a big bucket and a place to put it that is cold. Also note that to make the brine, you have to boil it first and then wait for a few hours for the brine to come to room temperature and then refrigerate it. If you are feeling crafty and decide to make this turkey, you might want to make the brine the day before (as recommended) or at least early on in the day so you do not find yourself alone at 10 pm outside pouring it between buckets in order to get the temperature of the brine to come down so you can add it to the ice water. Just sayin…
I do like the idea of putting it in at high heat for 30 minutes. The glow of the turkey was pretty. The cooking time was reduced. I am curious though if I rubbed it with butter if it would be as pretty…Hmmm.
And one aside. I wish I could bottle Thanksgiving and sell it year round to people. A little bit of nostalgia, a pinch of good cheer, a smidgen of love and lots of family fun. And no need to check your mobile device or work stress. It was a good turkey day and a wonderful start to a long holiday weekend.
- 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
- 1 cup kosher salt
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 gallon vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1½ teaspoons allspice berries
- 1½ teaspoons chopped candied ginger
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
- 1 red apple, sliced
- ½ onion, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves sage
- Canola oil
- to 3 days before roasting, begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F. Combine the 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. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
- Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat: Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 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. Discard the brine.
- Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
- Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add 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 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 2½ hours of roasting [Note: A 12 pound turkey took a little less than 2 hours].
- Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.