The Main Event: Turkey

What would Thanksgiving be without turkey?  The recipe we use is from Alton Brown and it is delicious!  The brine is the key to cooking a juicy turkey.  If you’ve never cooked a turkey before, don’t be intimidated, it’s easier than you think.  I promise that process is worth it!

Roast Turkey          Print Recipe

From Alton Brown

Total Time: 9 hr 45 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive: 7 hr 0 min
Cook: 2 hr 30 min
Yield: 10 to 12 servings


1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey       *ours is shy of 14 lbs, so we plan on the cook time being shorter

For the brine:

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger       *we had a hard time finding this, so we’re using crystallized ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil


2 to 3 days before roasting

Allow the turkey to start thawing in the refrigerator or in a cooler (kept at a 38 degree temperature).

Prepare the brine by combining the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, allowing the solids to dissolve.  Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.  Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to use.

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

In a 5-gallon bucket, combine the prepared brine, water, and ice.  Place thawed turkey (remove innards), breast side down in brine.  If bird isn’t fully submerged in the liquid, use something to weigh it down fully into the liquid.  Cover and refrigerate or leave in a cool area for 8-16 hours.  Turn the bird once in this time frame.

To cook the turkey

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and place oven rack in lowest position.

Remove turkey from the brine brine and rinse inside and out with cold water.  You can discard the brine now, it has done it’s duty.

Place the turkey in a roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Now you need to make the aromatics.  In a small microwave safe dish, combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water.  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.  Place aromatics in the cavity of the turkey.  Also add in the rosemary and sage.  Tuck the wings underneath the bird.  Liberally rub the turkey with canola oil.

Place the roasting pan with the turkey in oven and bake for 30 minutes at 500 degrees.  Now insert a probe thermometer (if it has an alarm, set it to 161 degrees) into the thickest part of a breast. Reduce oven temperature to 350.  Bake until the internal temperature of the bird is 161 degrees.  For a 14-16 pound bird, this will take around 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.  Once it is done roasting, remove from oven and allow to rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes before carving.  This is important, it helps keep the juices in the bird (nobody wants a dry turkey!).  Enjoy!

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