Brined Turkey with Pan Gravy

November 27, 2008 – 5:28 pm

Brining is the key to a wonderfully juicy turkey. There are many recipes for brines out there, and you can even buy pre-made brining mixes these days. I tried adding ½ cup maple syrup to my brine recipe this year, but neither Shaun nor I were a fan of the addition, so I’ve posted my original brine recipe below. It gives a lovely complex but subtle flavor to the bird. If your turkey is significantly bigger than 12 pounds, increase the brine ingredients accordingly.

Brined Turkey with Pan Gravy
Serves 8-12

1 8-12 lb fresh turkey
Canola oil

For the brine:
2 quarts turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
½ tsp allspice powder
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp dried ground sage
1 gallon ice water

For the aromatics:
1 granny smith apple, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water

For the gravy:
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter or 2 tbsp of turkey fat from the roasting pan
Pan drippings from the roasting pan, fat skimmed off
Turkey stock to make a quart of liquid when added to the pan drippings
Ground black pepper
Dried thyme

The day before you want to roast the turkey:

In a large pot combine all the brine ingredients except for the ice water and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the solids, then remove the pot from the heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

At least 8 ½ hours before you want to eat:

Rinse the turkey and remove the neck and giblets. Put the neck in a medium pot and cover completely with water. Refrigerate for now. Later, simmer over low heat while the turkey roasts to make turkey broth for the gravy.

Put the turkey into a large clean container, such as a brining bag, a stock pot, a clean 5 gallon bucket, or a drink cooler, breast side down.

Pour the brine and the ice water over the turkey and refrigerate or place in a cool place like a basement for 6 hours, turning the turkey over half way through the brining.

3 hours before you want to eat:

About ½ an hour before the brining is done, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple and onion and water in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 5 minutes on high.

Remove the bird from the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a wide, low sided pan and pat it dry with paper towels. Add the steeped aromatics to the cavity. Tuck the wings under the turkey and coat the whole bird with canola oil.

Roast on the lowest rack of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cover the breast with a double layer of aluminum foil. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and return the bird to the oven, reducing the temperature to 350 degrees. Set the thermometer alarm to 161 degrees. An 8 to 12 pound bird will take about 2 hours to roast. Start simmering the neck and/or giblets for broth now.

When the alarm goes off, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

15 minutes before eating:

While the turkey rests, melt the butter and stir it together with the flour. Add the pan drippings and turkey broth, whisking together. Bring to a boil. Season the gravy to taste with pepper, salt, and thyme to taste. Serve with the turkey.

Nutritional Information Per 5 oz of Meat

Calories 290
Fat 14 g
Saturated Fat 4 g
Cholesterol 115 mg
Sodium 550 mg
Carbohydrates 0 g
Fiber 0 g
Protein 39 g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 4%
Iron 14%

Nutritional Information Per ¼ Cup of Gravy

Calories 50
Fat 3 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 1 mg
Sodium 343 mg
Carbohydrates 3 g
Fiber 0 g
Protein 1 g
Vitamin A 4%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1%
Iron 2%

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