Sunday, November 27, 2011

The star of the day... Citrus and herb brined turkey with gravy

So here we are finally, the star of the day, the turkey. Turkey is not a family tradition for me but since it is the tradition for Thanksgiving I decided to give it a shot last year, I looked around for a recipe that called my name and settled on that one as a base and modified it slightly based on what I read along the way, I am presenting you with my final recipe. I made it 3 times now, last Christmas and this Thanksgiving, and it turned out perfect every time. 

Trust me there is really nothing complicated about turkey, all you need is to plan things ahead because what makes it tough is its size, here are a few advices. If you choose a frozen bird, know that it should take you at least 3 days to thaw, mine was 13.5lb this year (fairly small bird), I took it out on Sunday evening and when I put it in the brine Wednesday morning it was still a little bit frozen. When you buy it make sure that it comes with gizzard and neck and is not seasoned, brine is ok. Regarding cooking times, I am not yet on target with that but I think you can find an estimate online, I usually go by temperature.

Regarding "specialized" equipment you will need and turkey roasting pan, a container big enough for the brine (I use turkey oven bags, but I had them break on me twice, flooding my kitchen.... so be careful when moving it!!!) and last but not least a meat thermometer.
I have never seen anyone in my family use a meat thermometer but you won't catch me cook a bird without it (chicken or turkey).

Here we go:

- turkey
- 1/2 c salt per gallon of water (1c)
- 1/2 c brown sugar per gallon of water (1c)
- 2 oranges, quartered
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs rosemary

- 1 large orange, cut into 1/8ths
- 4 tbsp butter at room temperature
- Salt & pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1 inch slices
- 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 bunch sage
- 3 or 4 sprigs parsley
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- chicken stock, for basting

- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- turkey neck and giblets
- 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 1 small bay leaf
- 3 c chicken stock
- 3 c water

- 4 c turkey broth(complete with chicken stock if needed)
- 1 c dry white wine
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt & pepper

 Day before cooking prepare the brine, I prepare it in empty gallons of milk to dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Place the turkey in the container, if using a bag place it first in the roasting pan, you don't want to handle the bag once it is filled. Squeeze the citrus when adding them. Add the liquid, I use 2 gallons of brine.
 Close the bag (if using a bag), return the turkey and brine to the fridge for at least 24h
 The say it self preheat the oven to 350F and prepare the stuffing, carrots, celery, orange, herbs and garlic.
 Rinse the turkey and pat it dry. Rub the breast with orange slices and rub the entire turkey with butter, massaging some of it under the skin on the breasts season the turkey inside and out. Place the stuffing inside the turkey, tie the legs with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under.
 Place in the oven, baste every 45 min with warm stock and check the temperature inside the thigh, being careful not to touch the bone. The turkey will be done once the temperature reached 165F. Look how gorgeous it is!!! Tent with foil and let rest at least 30 min before craving.

While the turkey cooks prepare the broth, heat the oil in a medium stock pot over medium heat, brown the neck and gizzards (don't be shy on that step or they will take more than an hour to cook...), add the veggies and bay lead and sautee until soft. Add the liquids and let simmer until it reduces to about 4c (about 1h). In the last 15 min add the liver. Pull the meat from the neck, chop the gizzard and liver and set aside.
 While the turkey rests prepare you gravy. 
- Degrease the pan dripping
- Place the roasting pan on 2 burners on medium heat, deglaze with drippings,  white wine and 1 c of turkey stock, stir to scrape the brown bits off. Add the remaining stock and bring to a boil.
- In a large heavy sauce pan melt the butter over medium high heat, stir in the flour cook the raw flour taste out making a light roux.
- Slowly add the stock, whisking constantly to avoid lumps, cook until it thickens (abt 10 min)

Serve as shown in the first picture. I am honestly what part I prefer, the smell that brings me back to my gran ma's kitchen as a child, the delicious turkey or the heavenly gravy (that goes so well with mashed potatoes or even just bread....)  

Hope you enjoyed those recipes!! Now it's time to think about Christmas!!!!

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