Time to talk turkey. If you haven't already made a plan for the bird, this is it. It's straightforward, beautiful and delicious. I highly recommend brining your turkey but if that isn't your cup of tea, try to find a bird that's been pre-brined (some Whole Foods stores are carrying them this year). The resulting tenderness of the meat makes all the difference in the world. Even though we know this meal is all about the delicious sides...
I used a similar cider brine last year and the results where pretty amazing. The addition of soy might seem strangely out of place in this all-American meal but trust me, it works magic. Although, I predict that the true star of this meal won't be your perfectly bronzed bird, as glorious as it may be. Nope. It will be the GRAVY. Report back to me, please.
maple-bourbon roasted turkey
Overnight brining, plus about 3 1/2 hours to cook
15 lb turkey
for the brine:
2 quarts apple cider
1 c kosher salt
1 c tamari or soy sauce
1 c brown sugar
2 T black whole peppercorns
6-8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 T cinnamon
3 apples, peeled and quartered
3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
3 onions, peeled and quartered
for the glaze:
1 cup butter
1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c bourbon
2 t smoked salt
Combine all of the ingredients for the brine in a large pot, bring to a boil and let cool completely. Place the turkey in a brining bag, cover with brine, seal a and refrigerate overnight.
After 24 hours, remove the turkey from the bag and pat dry.
Pre-heat oven to 450º
Fill the cavity of the bird with about 1/3 of the apple/vegetable combination. Use kitchen twine to truss the legs together. Set a rack in the roasting pan and toss the remaining apples/vegetables and add two cups of water. Place the trussed bird on the rack and season with salt and pepper.
Roast the turkey for 30 minutes.
Combine the ingredients for the glaze in a medium saucepan over low-medium heat until the butter has melted and sugar have melted. Keep warm.
After 30 minutes, reduce the oven to 350º and begin to coat the bird with the glaze, hitting it about every 15 minutes or so until the bird is done. Place an instant read thermometer into the thigh. When it hits 165º, you are good to go.
Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
roasted apple and vegetable gravy
2 T flour
2 T pan drippings
3 T pureed roasted apples and vegetables
degreased pan juices
4 c turkey stock
1/4 c bourbon
salt and pepper to taste
Remove the roasted vegetables and apples from from the roasting pan and process until smooth in a blender or food processor.
Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings into a fat separator, discarding the fat that rises to the top. Place your roasting pan on your stovetop and heat it over a medium-high flame. Carefully pour in whatever booze you are using to de-glaze the pan, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom for any bits of deliciousness from the bottom of the pan. If you are using a disposable roasting pan, you won't be wanting to put it on the flame. Skip that step and add a little bourbon, to taste, to your gravy to finish, taking care to burn off any alcohol for those who are not imbibing.) Pour everything from the roasting pan into a medium sauce pan.
Add the flour, 3 tablespoons of the roasted vegetable puree, the de-greased drippings and stock. Bring the mixture to just under a boil, stirring constantly to smooth out any lumps. Turn down the heat to medium and continue to stir/whisk until the gravy has thickened, about 15 minutes. If for some reason it is not thickening, you can always add some flour. Just do so in 1 tablespoon increments and give it a chance to come together. Season with salt and pepper.