Category Archives: Turkey

Roasted Turkey

WOW!!  This is just about the best turkey I have ever had and I am not a great lover of roasted turkey.  Most every turkey I have had is dry and tasteless.  It can be very difficult to cook it just right because you have these big fat legs of dark meat that take much longer to cook than the thinner breast meat.  So what’s a cook to do?  In Anthony Bourdain’s video he just cuts the legs off and cooks them longer after removing the breasts from the oven .  Most of us don’t want to do that because we won’t have that pretty bird to put on the table. But really how many of us put it on the table to carve anyway.  If you are feeding a large group of people it is easier to slice it and serve buffet style.  So then no one gets to see the big browned bird.

I chose to leave the legs on my bird and to use a different method for preparing the turkey before putting it in the oven.  Searching the internet for the best method of cooking a turkey I kept coming across Alton Brown’s brining method.  I have read about this in Cook’s Illustrated and in  many other cookbooks.  I have soaked chicken in a salty brine before, but never thought about a turkey. 

If you choose to do your turkey this way you need to view Alton Brown’s video called “Turkey Brining Secrets”.   It is a great video . Then check out his recipe for roasting the turkey.  It really is very informative. I am following most of it.  First you have to thaw the turkey.  This will take about three days in the refrigerator.  You can speed the process by putting in the sink with cold water and changing the water about every hour.  Do not leave it out to thaw!  That is a good way to get sick.  

For the brine you need:

  • 1 c. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • gallon of vegetable stock
  • 1 T peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 t. allspice berries (optional)
  • 1 1/2 t. chopped candied ginger (optional)
  • 1 gal. iced water

Heat a gallon of vegetable broth

Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar

Next add 1 cup Kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of allspice berries

1 Tablespoon of Peppercorns

Heat all of this with the exception of the gal. of iced water until the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Let it cool and then refrigerate for  up to 2-3 days.   Make sure that you CHILL the brine.

Turkey in a bucket

You need a 5 gallon bucket to put the turkey in.  As you can see mine is bright orange.  The Athlete kindly picked this one up for me.  I was told it was the only one they had.  It really stands out I know!!  And I am not really advertising for Home Depot even though it looks that way.  A white one would have looked better on the blog.  You do get the right idea though.

Brine in bucket

Pour the chilled brine

Pour in gallon of ice water.

Put the brine and the gallon of iced water in the bucket.  Put the turkey in head first.  Okay, first time turkey cookers listen up.    Please make sure to remove all the giblets and the neck.  Look in both cavities!!!  Don’t laugh.  You don’t want to have  your brother-in-law  to carve the turkey and pull out the giblets still in the plastic bag.  That is a hard one to live down.   

Put a bag of ice on top of the turkey.  Place in the refrigerator for 8- 16 hours turning the turkey halfway through the brining process.

Rinse the bird and discard the brine.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  500 is correct!!!

Stuff the cavity with a coarse chop of onion,and apple that you microwave for about 5 minutes in a cup of water. Then add a stick of cinnamon.  Pat the bird dry and coat with  canola oil.  Alton Brown put other aromatics in the cavity.  Check his out. 

Making a triangle to fit over the breast meat.

Make a covering from  foil to cover the breast.  Form it to the turkey then take it off and oil the side that will touch the turkey.  This is going to keep the breast from drying out.  Put this on the counter to use later. Do not cover the breast yet.

This bird is ready for a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes

Place the turkey on the lowest rack in the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes .  Take it out of the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Below is the pic of what it should look like.   Place the meat thermometer in the breast  and set the temperature to 161 degrees.

Here it is after 30 minutes

 Cover with the tent.  I put foil on the tips of the wings.  I forgot to tuck them under.  Place thermometer in the breast.  Notice that I took the picture with the thermometer in the thigh.  I moved it but did not take a picture.  Sorry!  Cook until the thermometer registers 161 degrees. 

Ready to reach 161 degrees!

When the alarm on you thermometer goes off.  Take the turkey from the oven and cover with a tent of foil or a large lid and let it sit to rest.  If you slice it right out of the oven all the juices will flow out of the turkey.  You want to keep them in to have a nice juicy turkey.  You going to love this! 

Happy Cooking,

The Teacher Cooks


Filed under Brine, Cooking, Recipes, Turkey