Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Perfect Roast Turkey (Brine Recipe Included)




You might be laughing right now, thinking "Who is this woman and why does she think she knows how to make the perfect turkey?".

Years and years of trial and error my friends!

I started cooking turkey for the family wayyyyyy back before I had kids. My grandfather and grandmother were the ones that ran the show over the holidays, and I loved hanging out with them in the kitchen while they cooked.

Grandpa made the stuffing, my Grandma always baked bread (aaahhh I can still smell it!), and pecan pie.

I remember one year my Grandmother was making her famous pecan pie. We were all hanging around the kitchen, drooling, and she grabbed the pie out of the oven to set it on a rack to cool. For some reason the oven mitt didn't protect her from the heat of the pie tin, and down the pie went onto the floor. 


It was like slow motion. Pie tin tips, pie begins to slip, several of us jump for it.

Like we are going to be able to bare hand catch a blazingly hot pie right?

Nope, it hit the floor.

My grandmother was so upset.

Meanwhile the rest of us went about the task of gabbing the tools that would allow us to still enjoy the scrumptious dessert.

We grabbed a spatula and a baking sheet. I carefully used the spatula to lift the pie up leaving just a thin amount on the floor, and slid it on to the baking sheet.

Hey, we used to joke that my Grandma kept her floors so clean that you could eat off of them!! We were not losing this pie!!

That year we joked about how wonderful my Grandma's Upside Down Pecan Pie was and that she needed to share the recipe with everyone.

I think I got hit in the head with a stray wooden spoon!

I love every single one of those memories, 

along with the little tips and tricks that they taught me.

I have of course, through the years, tweaked things here and there. But the basics still remain the same. Sometimes simple is just the way to go right?



Here is our gorgeous bird, out of the brine, and all seasoned up.


Now for, what might seem like, a very strange step to the process.


Cover your bird with a layer of cheesecloth, ad tuck her in nice. The result of this?

A gorgeous, evenly browned, and crispy skin every single time!!


 
The Perfect Roast Turkey (Brine Recipe Included)


For the brine:

  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 large stems Fresh rosemary
  • 8 sprigs Fresh thyme
  • 10 Fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 gallon ice water
  • 14 pound turkey, thawed


To roast the turkey:

  • Cheesecloth, cut to fit your turkey
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Poultry seasoning
  • 1 head garlic, smashed 
  • 1 onion, quartered 
  • 2 or 3 lemons, pierced with a fork or knife
  • Several stems of thyme and rosemary (some for the cooking and some for garnish after)
  • Several leaves of sage (some for cooking and some for garnish)
  • several quarts of turkey or chicken stock (I used 3)



Combine the vegetable stock, salt, sugar, vinegar, rosemary, thyme, sage, and peppercorns in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally to dissolve the salt and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the large stock pot. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed and reserved) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Remove the bird and discard the brine. Pat the bird dry. Season with cracked black pepper and poultry seasoning, rubbing the skin to make sure the seasoning is even all over the bird. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Place a rack in your roasting pan, or you can lay carrots and celery stalks on the bottom of the roaster to left the turkey up from the bottom.

Carefully place the turkey in the roasting pan, breast side up. Place the garlic, onion, lemons, and herbs inside the cavity. Truss the turkey if it does not come that way.

Loosely cover the turkey with the cheese cloth, tucking the edges into the pan.

Heat at least 2 quarts of the stock in a medium pot, over medium heat. Add the innards (neck, liver, heart, etc) and keep the stock just below a simmer. You will use this to baste your turkey, and to make your gravy if wanted.

Place the turkey in the oven with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.

Cook the turkey, basting every after 30 minutes for the first hour, then every hour until it has reached a minimum of 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven, tent with foil, and allow to set for 30 minutes before carving. The temperature will rise as it rests.

Using the turkey baster, carefully squirt the warmed stock over the bird as you slowly peel the cheesecloth off. Be patient, don't tear the skin.

The result will be a brown, crispy gorgeous skin!

Remove the herbs and replace with fresh for garnish

Carve, serve, and ENJOY!!!









47 comments:

  1. This picture could be in a magazine! It's gorgeous. I have decided to brine my turkey for the time so thank you for the recipe. I have collected a bunch of recipes but I am going to use this one. Just out of curiosity - what is the pupose of the cheesecloth? / and where did you get this idea from? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the fantastic compliment! As for the cheesecloth, my mother used it and it helps hold the basting fluid all over the skin for even browning. I just saw someone else use it for the first time on the Food Network's Thanksgiving Challenge.

      Delete
  2. I have never heard of using cheesecloth to cook a turkey. My Hubs is cooking this year so I am going to show this to him.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ya know what my trick is? I pour a beer over my turkey before I put it into the oven. It comes out SOOOO moist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey everything is better with beer!!! :)

      Delete
  4. This looks totally delicious. I would have gone in to save the pie too! Pecan pies are my absolute favorite!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I wish Kevin liked pecan pie. I haven't had it in years!

      Delete
  5. Thank you so much I would have no idea how to cook a good turkey (though perhaps a bad one) yours looks and sounds amazing x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sarah! Once you get the hang of it it is pretty easy really :)

      Delete
  6. That looks delicious. My turkey never turns out right so I need to try your recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you try it Pam it really does give us the perfect turkey every year!

      Delete
  7. Your turkey looks amazing! I have never heard of baking a turkey with cheesecloth. I will be trying this at least this year to see how well it comes out. Anything is worth a try to get a great turkey dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have never heard to cover it in cheesecloth. But I have to try that next time! It does look quite gorgeous! And I always use a brine. It is just too darn good and I can never go back to roasting a turkey without a brine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't brined until this past year and will always brine from now on!!

      Delete
  9. Wow. The perfect turkey indeed - thanks for sharing this recipe! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so welcome Aisha. I am glad you like it!

      Delete
  10. Oh. My! That turkey does look perfect! I have my own little spin on what I do with the turkey and it is nothing like this! I will have to try!

    ReplyDelete
  11. That does look great, mine is never that pretty but at least I have gotten to where they are edible (we have all been there when they weren't!). I am not sure how we are preparing ours this year yet, I will print this one out to share with my husband as we decide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I can remember years when the turkey was less than tasty LOL

      Delete
  12. That turkey looks divine. I can never get my turkey to look that great. I'll have to try your way and see what happens this thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. That turkey looks delish! I can't wait for Thanksgiving! Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome :) Have a fabulous Thanksgiving!!

      Delete
  14. Thanks for passing along, perfect timing!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have never heard of covering the turkey in cheesecloth. Your turkey looks absolutely gorgeous! I might have to try this this year instead of the typical aluminum foil tent.

    ReplyDelete
  16. It sure is a pretty display, and LOL at the pie story!!! :) I can see my gram being not one bit happy to lose her grip on one of her precious pies. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have never made a turkey before but I may use this recipe this year since it is my first time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh boy!! Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!!

      Delete
  18. I've never seen anyone use a cheesecloth before. If I can convince my husband to make me a turkey, we'll give it a try!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you do! It makes it so perfectly brown.

      Delete
  19. That is simply a beautiful turkey and I can tell it tasted good also. I love this recipe and I think I will try it this year too. Do you have a good recipe for dressing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was super moist and tender!! I will be posting a dressing recipe on Sunday.

      Delete
  20. That turkey is making my mouth water! I never heard about putting cheesecloth on top of it... but it apparently does work! LOL! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but it works so well!

      Delete
  21. This turkey looks delicious. I think preparing the turkey is probably the most intimidating part of any holiday feast preparation. You always hear horror stories of holiday dinners where they turkey preparation went awry.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Your picture is awesome! I am so excited for thanksgiving. I'll be making our turkey again for our friends.

    ReplyDelete
  23. It looks perfect! Ready to devour and conquer! Yum!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I can't make to bake my first turkey this year using the brinning recipe!!! Can you tell me about how long will the bird be in the oven??? Doing dinner on Wednesday and I'm in charge of everything to have ready by the time mom gets home at 6 pm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The charts will tell you that it should be about 20 minutes per pound but mine usually takes a hour less than the charts say. That is why I use a meat thermometer. It has a lot to do with your oven. This was a 14 pound turkey and it took me about 3 1/2 hours.

      Delete
  25. After hours of searching for turkey brines I chose this one. Even though I didn't have a gallon of vegetable stock so I used 64oz of chicken stock and 72.5oz of chicken broth. I didn't have thyme either. I hope it still works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh that should still come out wonderful!!

      Delete