Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Greatness!

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!  I hope you all had a wonderful day with family and had the opportunity to reflect on the things you are thankful for. 

Not only was this the first Thanksgiving I have ever hosted, it was also the first family get together I have ever hosted for my husbands family! Needless to say, I was putting a little pressure on myself to make sure the meal went off without a hitch. (And I hoped it would taste as good as my moms!). Here is a rundown of how I prepared and roasted the turkey:

The first question I posed was TO BRINE OR NOT TO BRINE? My mom makes fabulous, moist turkey and does not brine it beforehand. But my dad did a brine on the turkey last year, and I remember the bird being really moist. I saw an episode of The Pioneer Woman and thought her brine looked good, so I pushed away my fears and decided to go all in.

What You'll Need for the Brine

3 Cups Apple Cider
2 Gallons Cold Water
4 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary (Or 2 to 3 Tablespoons Dried Rosemary)
1 & 1/2 Cups Kosher Salt
2 Cups Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
The Peels of 3 Large Oranges

First, cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges (so it won't roll around) and cut the peels off.

Add all ingredients into a large pot (stock pots are great!).

Bring this to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover, and let it seep until its cooled to room temp. (Let me tell you, this takes a lot longer than I thought it would! Haha. The Pioneer Woman says that halfway through the cooling process, you can put the pot in the refrigerator to speed it up. I had to do this. First, I got another large pot and poured the brine from one pot to another over and over to let some heat escape. Then I kept the brine in the two pots and put them both in the fridge. I figured it would cool faster that way).

Once the brine has reached room temp, we put the turkey in an oven bag (breast side down) and poured in the brine (there are brining bags out there, we just couldn't find one). We put that in a roasting pot and into the fridge. The Pioneer Woman says you want to brine a turkey for at least 16 hours, although 24 hours is better for larger birds. My turkey only got to brine for about 8 hours, but it was still scrumptious! 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the brining process, flip the bird over in the bag. 

Once you have brined the bird for as long as you want, discard of the brine, rinse the turkey, then soak the turkey in some cold water for about 15-20 minutes (you can do this in a clean sink, a large pot, or do like us and just use another oven bag). After those 15-20 minutes are up, drain the turkey of any water trapped in the cavities, and pat dry with a paper towel. 

My family has been roasting their turkey "The Alton Brown Way" for years, and let me tell you - this turkey will come out perfectly roasted and super moist every time. 
Here's what you do:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
After brining the turkey and patting it dry, place the turkey on a roasting rack in a shallow roast pan or cookie sheet, breast side up. Tuck the wings under the turkey so they don't flap about. Get out some foil and fold into a large triangle, large enough to cover the breast of the turkey. Rub some canola oil on the foil to prevent it from sticking to the turkey. Press it against the breast to mold it to the appropriate shape and size. Set the "breast plate" aside for later use and rub some canola oil on the outside of the turkey. Place the turkey/roasting pan in the oven on the bottom rack, feet side in first (and it might be a good idea to add a cup or two of water to the bottom of the pan so the drippings don't burn and make your fire alarm go off). Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at 500 degrees. Once those 30 mins are up, change the temp to 350 degrees, put the breast plate on the turkey and then let it do its thing until the temp of the thickest part of the breast meat reaches 161 degrees. (TIP: get one of those digital meat thermometers that you can put in the turkey before putting it in the oven, and then set the thermometer to go off once the internal temp of the turkey has reached 161 degress. Its so handy!)

When the turkey hits 161 degrees, take it out of the oven, and let it rest (just sit there) for 20-30 minutes (covered in foil to keep in the heat) before you cut into it. If you don't let it rest, the juices will flow right out of the bird when you cut into it, and will make it dry it out. 
Here it is! Looks good, no?!

And here is my handsome hubby, ready to carve the turkey!

I'm so happy with how the turkey turned out! I will definitely always roast my turkey the same way. And I'm guessing I will always use the same brine recipe - it worked so good, why change it up?!

Let me know if you give this a try and how it turns out!

I couldn't have made this delicious turkey without the help of The Pioneer Woman, and Alton Brown.

Here is the link to the Pioneer Woman's website with her brine recipe:
(Her directions are much more clear, and wittier! lol. And she has some great pics. Also, her recipe calls for bay leaves. I didn't have any, so I didn't use it in my brine). 

And here is the link to Alton Brown's roasted turkey recipe on the Food Network website:
(This page also has his brine recipe, which my dad used last year and it was great - although my dad doesn't like Allspice, so he didn't use it. It also mentions some things you can put in the cavity of the turkey to enhance the aromatics. I didn't do this. I just follow his roasting directions). 

~ Brianne

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