A turkey to be thankful for
I have discovered the most fabulous way to cook turkey. This is a revelation. It truly is. The turkey turns out tender, juicy and oh so flavorful. While I am eating it I am thinking “so this is what turkey can taste like?” Think about it, how many of us have learned to choke down that dried up ole turkey with gravy? Well I’m here to tell you there is a way to make turkey that is truly life changing.
The secret…… drumroll…. is braising. Braising is a French word that means cooking a food with a dry high heat to brown it and then stewing it in water at a low heat. Braising is also referred to as “pot roasting” sometimes but whatever you call it, it can take a meat that normally gets dried out easy and make it succulent. It is the perfect solution for turkey.
You will need to get a turkey that either you cut in half or have the butcher do it for you. With it cut in two you can submerge it in the broth to cook in. It is also possible to cook a bigger turkey for thanksgiving, like I am, you just have to use two roasting pans and possibly two ovens (and of course, up the cooking time). Don’t let the long instructions put you off, it’s actually an easy method to cook a turkey and the results well worth it! This is a turkey to be thankful for.
Succulent braised turkey
Serves 10-12. You can use homemade or store bought broth for this.
A quart of apple juice
OR 1 cup of organic sugar
1 cup of salt (I prefer kosher)
2 gallons of cold water
Sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme
12-14 pound pasture-raised turkey, cut in half
2 onions, chopped coarse
3 ribs of celery, chopped coarse
2 carrots, chopped coarse
4-5 big mushrooms, chopped coarse
4-6 garlic cloves peeled and quartered
6 springs of fresh thyme
6 whole sage leaves
1-2 springs of fresh rosemary
4 TBLS unsalted butter melted
1 quart of chicken turkey broth
1 quart or so of water
1 cup of white wine
The first thing to do is to make your brine. Get out a giant pot that you can easily submerge the turkey in. (Some people brine in a medium cooler. I brine in a crab cooker pot) Add the two gallons of water, apple juice, salt and herb sprigs to the pot and mix till well blended or the salt (and sugar if you are using it) is dissolved. Wash your turkey in cold water and then submerge the two halves in its salty spa. ( if the turkey isn’t submerged, add more water) Add a few cups of ice or so to bring down the water temp, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours or preferably overnight. (This is where a cooler comes in handy if you don’t have an extra fridge hanging around. Just keep the bird on ice in the cooler and it takes the place of a fridge)
When you are ready to cook your turkey, lower the rack in your oven so that you can fit a turkey in there and preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Prep all your veggies (but not the herb sprigs) and place in a big bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and a little salt and pepper. Layer the veggies in the bottom of a large roasting pan and add the sprigs of herbs. Take your turkey out of the brine, dump the brine down the sink, and pat your turkey dry with paper towels. Take the other two tablespoons of butter and rub all over the turkey skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the two turkey halves on top of the veggies and tuck in the oven for 15-20 minutes to brown it up.
When the turkey is lightly brown, take it out of the oven and reduce the temp of the oven to 325 degrees. Pour the broth, wine, and water around the turkey, the liquid should come up half way up the sides of the pan. Add more water if it hasn’t. Place a piece of parchment paper over the turkey (to keep the skin from sticking to the foil) and then cover pan tightly with aluminum foil. Tuck this lucky bird back in the oven and cook till the breast temp reaches 160 degrees, about 1.5-2.5 hours depending on the size of your bird. Take out of the oven and drool, I mean marvel at your turkey.
Remove the bird from the broth and put on a large cutting board, tent it with the foil to keep warm. Meanwhile, strain the veggies and herbs out of the broth and do whatever you want with them. (I put them in the compost or squish them up and add the broth.) Make your gravy in your normal way with the broth. (You get to make an extra-large batch here!) Save the rest of the broth for soup the next day or freeze. (This stuff is gold! Don’t throw it out!) Cut up the turkey and serve with the gravy. Bon appetite!