Main Dish Meat

Thanksgiving Turkey

How to Cook a Good Turkey

This recipe heralds from Alton Brown.  If you are tired of the same old dry turkey that requires a cup of gravy just to get down your throat, this one is for you!  It does require a little time and effort, but what good recipe roasting an entire animal wouldn’t?  Lots of flavor and lots of moisture.   I have used this turkey recipe every year for 4 years and it never has failed me.

(Photo side note: I’m sorry, but this savory recipe like many others I have doesn’t get a great photo.  We are usually ready to eat and the contents are hot.  With children running around sometimes I either take a not so great photo, or don’t get the photo at all.)

Tips:  Walmart carries a fresh herb mix called “poultry mix”.  So instead of spending $4 on separate fresh herbs and not using half of them, buy the poultry mix which already as the sage and rosemary in it!  The crystallized ginger and other whole spices last a long time, so you will get your money’s worth from those.

Roast Turkey
yields 1 turkey to feed about 10-12 people

For the Vegetable Stock: (you could buy it to save time)

4 large potatoes, thickly sliced
4-6 onions, quartered
6-8 carrots, thickly sliced
2 celery stalk, chopped
2 apples, quartered
3-4 bay leaves
12 peppercorns
20 cups (5 qts.) water
Optional ingredients (because you can use whatever you have on hand really): garlic cloves, winter squash, zucchini, whole parsley, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, scallions

This will yield 1 gallon of vegetable stock


1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil
1.  3 days before roasting, begin to thaw turkey.
2.  On one of these days, make the vegetable stock (if not purchased).   Or make the day before roasting the turkey if you don’t have room to store this AND a huge turkey in your fridge.  Scrub the unpeeled veggies and cut into chunks.  Place everything in a big stockpot.  Bring to boil and simmer for over 1 hour 15 minutes.
3.  Take the vegetable stock already in the stockpot and mix it with the brine ingredients: salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries and candied ginger over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Cool and refridgerate.
4.  Night before cooking:  Remove innards from turkey.  Combine brine, water and ice in a large bucket or plastic storage bin.  Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine.  Cover and refridgerate or put in cool area (like your cold garage) for 8-16 hours.  Turn the turkey over once halfway.
5.  Cooking the turkey:  Move rack to lowest level in oven.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Remove bird rinse with water inside and out.  Dump the brine.  Place turkey in roasting rack and pat dry with paper towels.
6.  Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick and 1 cup water in microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Add to the turkey’s cavity with the rosemary and sage.  Tuck wings underneath the bird (to prevent drying out) and coat skin with canoli oil.  Using a square piece of foil large enough to cover the turkey’s breast, fold one side down and mold this around the turkey’s breast.  (For the video, click here.)  Remove from the turkey and set aside (germ side up of course).
7.  Roast turkey on lowest rack in the oven for 30 minutes.  Insert electric probe thermometer into thickest part of breast.  Place the foil shield over the turkey.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees.  Set thermometer to 161 degrees.  (Yes, this is well worth the purchase.)  Turkey will take about 2 hours to roast.
8.  Cover loosely with foil and rest for 15 minutes.


Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2011 - 2024 Mary Ellen Riley All Rights Reserved. WP Plugins