Everyone has their own special way of preparing Thanksgiving dinner. From the juiciest, “this will never dry out!” turkey, to Great Grandmas classic casserole, Thanksgiving is a festive annual tradition. How can you spice up your Thanksgiving routine this year?
Here are two sure fire recipes to keep your guests satisfied this holiday season, but be warned – you just might be the new annual Thanksgiving dinner host! Good news is, those who cook don’t have to clean, right?
Don’t let your turkey dry out like the Arizona desert! Brining ensures that it never happens again through a simple process of adding moisture to your meat. Turkey is very lean; therefore, it requires much moisture and longer cooking time. Traditional brines consist of water and an abundance of salt, but you can add special seasonings and herbs to enhance the flavor of your brine. This salt solution moistens the turkey through a process known as osmosis, where the higher concentration of salt water diffuses to the lower concentration. When equilibrium is reached, the water and seasonings are then trapped in the turkeys lean tissue, keeping it tender and moist throughout the entire cooking process.
Super Moist Turkey
- 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
To make the brine:
- 1 cup kosher salt
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 gallon low sodium vegetable stock
- 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 ½ tsp allspice berries
- 1 ½ tsp chopped candied ginger
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics (stuff inside of turkey cavity while roasting):
- 1 red apple, sliced
- ½ onion, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 6 leaves sage
- Canola oil
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38°F two or three days before roasting.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
The night before Thanksgiving Day:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket, (you can use a sanitized Home Depot bucket). Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on a roasting rack set on top of a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500°F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161°F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.
Carve, serve and enjoy!