This is the hero of thanksgiving. The heavyweight champion and gold medal winner. It was almost our national bird! When people think of thanksgiving, sure they think of pie and stuffing. The turkey is what it’s all about though. My wife likes to relate me to Bob from “Bob’s Burgers” when it comes to the turkey. If you haven’t seen what I’m talking about, check out this episode…it’s hysterical…and accurate!
When it comes to the bird, I take it a different route than most. I like doing a bright and slightly sweeter citrus brine. All the bright notes in this cut through the fatty heavy weight of the turkey, while keeping it moist.
Now I say this often, and it still rings true here. If you can find a local organic farm that raises turkeys, get it from them. The price will most likely be more, but the quality will be unparalleled. I have a small Amish farm up the road that raises turkeys;BIG turkeys. I usually get birds close to 45lbs from these people. They eat bugs, grass and seeds all day long. They exercise and run around all day, happy and healthy. They only have one bad day, and that’s how it should be! This bird is a 14 pounder…plenty big for a small gathering of 6-8 people.
2 G Water
2 G Ice
1 ½ C Kosher Salt
1 ½ C Sugar
¼ C Molasses
12 Sprigs of Thyme
6 Sprigs Rosemary
4 Sprigs Sage
1 lb Butter
6 Sprigs Thyme
2 Sprigs Rosemary
2 Sprigs Sage
Small Bunch Parsley
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Take the skin off of the grapefruit and oranges. Throw the skins in the pot. Cut the flesh out for a snack or fruit salad later.
Cut and squeeze the lemons and limes and throw them into the pot.
Add your herbs, salt and sugar mixture, and the molasses.
Bring to a simmer and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. This allows all of the oils to be released from the skins.
Add your ice cubes. You need to make sure the brine is cold before you add your turkey. If it needs to sit in the fridge for an hour, let it sit.
Give your Turkey it’s bath. Let it brine over night.
When you wake up the next morning, it’ll be thanksgiving day! I know you’re excited, but there’s still a couple things to do.
Pull your bird from the brine and let it drain. Pat the outside dry.
Take some of the skins and herbs from the brine and stuff them inside your turkey.
Here’s the trick. Take a piece of foil and form it to the breast, shiny side up. Set it aside, this will be important later.
Take your next batch of herbs and take them off the stems and chop them. Add them to your butter. Add some salt and pepper to taste as well. Mix well.
Using your hands, separate the skin from the breast and the legs. Be gentle, you don’t want to tear the skin.
Next, take the wing tips and tuck them under the turkey. This prevent them from burning.
Take your herb butter and put a healthy amount into the pocket in the legs that you just made. Do the same with the breast making sure to spread it out.
Now, take the rest of the butter and just smear it (technical terms) all over the outside of the bird.
take about a yard of twine, and pull it under the bird behind the legs. Bring it forward and wrap it under the leg ends. Tie the twine, pulling the leg ends together.
Throw it into a 425 degree oven for one hour. This allows you to get that nice sear and color on the outside of the bird, without overcooking it.
After the hour is up, pull the bird from the oven. Insert a probe into the thickest part of the breast and set it for 155 degrees.
Take that preformed piece of foil and put it on the breasts. The shiny side up is going to help to reflect the heat, so the breasts don’t overcook. There’s nothing worse than putting all the effort in and having a dry bird. Roast the bird at 325 until it reaches this temp.
About 3 more hours or so depending on the size of the bird. Figure on about 12 minutes per pound after the first hour. Now we wait…
A few hours later, when the temperature reads 155 degrees at the center of the largest part of the breast, we pull the bird from the oven.
You’re not done quite yet. Take a large piece of foil, and tent it over the turkey and let it rest undisturbed on the counter for 20-30 minutes. This will allow it to rest up to temp and allow the juices to redistribute.
Carve away. The breasts are moist and tender, the legs are beautifully cooked. The flavor is sweet and perfectly turkey. I’m not going to lie…I make a few of these a year…I love turkey…
Tools used in this post:
Digital Meat Thermometer