Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
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Cuisine: American
Techniques: Bake
Occasions: Christmas, Thanksgiving
Prep Time: 1 hr 0 min
Cook Time: 3 hr 0 min
Yield: 6 Serving(s)
Main Ingredients: Turkey
Sourced: I always use produce found at my local farmers market. When not in season, I've been using Whole Foods.
Tags: Main Course / Dinner

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
  • For the brine:
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1/2 tablespoon candied ginger
  • 1 gallon 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

Directions:

  • Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  • Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.
  • A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  • Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine. Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.
  • Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees F. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.
Notes: This is one of my favorite Alton Brown recipes. Alton’s flair in the kitchen developed early with guidance from his mother and grandmother, a budding culinary talent he skillfully used later “as a way to get dates” in college. Switching gears as an adult, Alton spent a decade working as a cinematographer and commercial director, but realized that he spent all his time between shoots watching cooking shows, which he found to be dull and uninformative. Convinced that he could do better, Alton left the film business and moved north to train at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT. Soon after, Alton tapped all of his experience to create Good Eats, a smart and entertaining food show that blends wit with wisdom, history with pop culture, and science with common cooking sense. Alton wrote, produced, and hosted the show for 13 years for The Food Network.
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Did You Know?
Shhhh, the trees are sleeping. In the winter, apple trees need to "rest" for up to 1,000 hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in order to flower and fruit properly.