Boxing Day was spaghetti and meat sauce from the freezer with loads of steamed broccoli and tonight, Brock is making us some pizza.  We’re being treated to a family dinner again tomorrow night so I’m going to try and catch up with some recipes.

This is the turkey!  It was great, very straightforward, but admittedly, a pain – I think mostly because our bird was so large.  I wanted to write down what we did because the flavor didn’t change, but it was crazy juicy.  Even the leftovers were juicy.  This is adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe that I found in the Food Network Magazine – he made a brine, and then also filled the turkey with an aromatic mixture, which I left out (I filled it with chunks of onion instead) because I will use the carcass for a turkey soup in the next month or so and I wanted it plain (it’s in the freezer right now).

Brined Turkey

1, 14 to 16 lb. (about 7 kg) frozen young turkey

Brine

4 L vegetable stock

1 c. kosher salt

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 T. EACH black peppercorns AND green or pink peppercorns

6 fresh sage leaves

4 sprigs EACH of fresh rosemary AND fresh thyme

Two or three days before roasting, begin thawing the bird in the fridge or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees (I have a second fridge, so I turned it down and used 3 days to thaw it) – wrap it well in plastic, it will leak as it thaws.  Combine the stock and the rest of the ingredients in a large pot and bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove it from the heat, allow it to cool and then refrigerate it until you will use it.

The night before roasting, put the washed turkey, breast side down in a XXL Ziploc bag (or whatever size you’ll need), pour over all of the brine and then add cold water until the whole turkey is completely covered when the bag is closed.  You will need 2 sets of hands for this, you will be asking for trouble if you attempt this by yourself.  We then put it in a large garbage bag, set it in the roaster and then put the roaster in a toboggan on the floor of our unheated garage overnight – I was worried about a leak, and we felt it was too heavy for the fridge.

When you’re ready to roast, preheat the oven to 500, remove the bird from the brine and give it a good rinse inside and out and then discard the brine.  Place the turkey in your roaster and pat it dry with paper towels.

Fill the cavity with raw onions (and garlic and more fresh herbs if you’d like),  coat the bird liberally with canola oil, and then sprinkle it all over with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper.  There are different schools of thought on which side should be up, but we will probably always roast a turkey breast side up.

Roast the turkey at the lowest level of the oven, at 500, for 30 minutes.  Remove the bird, insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh or breast (we have a probe that attaches to the inside of our oven, it worked great), and reduce the temperature to 350.  Roast until the thermometer reads 160 to 165 – it took our bird about 2 and a half hours (after the initial 30 minutes at 500), and we covered it loosely with foil about half way through – keep an eye on it!

Let the turkey rest for about a half hour before carving and enjoy!

Gravy is a whole other issue, I do what Mom has always done and use the juices from previous roasted birds to make the gravy while the bird is cooking, that way your meal can be well prepared in advance (assuming your other dishes are also prepped) and the actually cooking afternoon is enjoyable instead of frantic.  If casseroles have been made before the turkey goes in then the half hour ‘rest period’ is usually enough to reheat everything again – our family members made different dishes which made for a very tasty but relaxing feast.

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