When it comes to Thanksgiving, the turkey can make or break the meal. I happen to love turkey, and if yours turns out too dry, just hope that you’ve got enough gravy to get by. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure your turkey is moist, juicy, and a gorgeous golden brown color when it comes out of the oven.
My favorite turkey tips, learned from experience.
1. BRINE! If you haven’t ever brined your turkey before, you must do it this year. It makes your turkey much more resilient to accidental over-cooking. What is a brine? Basically, it is a salt/water/sugar solution that the turkey soaks in to impart flavor and provide for moist, flavorful meat, and a beautiful, shiny brown skin.
My favorite brining recipe & method comes from Alton Brown. We first tried it out a few years ago when we decided to deep-fry our turkey. It worked great, and I use the same brining method when I roast my turkeys also.
Turkey Brine (Credit: Alton Brown, foodnetwork.com)
6 quarts hot water
1 pound kosher salt
1 pound dark brown sugar
5 pounds ice
1 large chest cooler or 5-gallon drink cooler
Place the hot water, kosher salt and brown sugar into a 5-gallon upright drink cooler and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Add the ice and stir until the mixture is cool. Gently lower the turkey into the container. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure that it is fully immersed in the brine. Cover and set in a cool dry place for 8 to 16 hours.Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.
3. Don’t “Stuff” your bird. In terms of food safety, stuffing a turkey with stuffing is a potential health risk. The stuffing absorbs all the turkey’s juices, and often times it won’t reach the proper temperature in the middle of the bird to ensure that it is cooked properly and thoroughly. It is much better to fill the cavity with “aromatics” or leave it empty. I like to quarter an onion or two, as well as an apple or two and place them in the cavity prior to cooking. Discard them after carving the turkey. It imparts flavor during the cooking process, and flavors the juices that will later be used to make the gravy. Which brings me to my next tip…
In a saucepan, bring drippings (or butter) to a boil. Add flour and whisk constantly until the flour is cooked and beginning to brown. Slowly pour in the broth, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, whisking frequently, for about 10 minutes, until gravy has thickened and no longer tastes of flour. Adjust seasoning as needed.
On a baking sheet, lay 4 slices of bread. On two of the slices, lay the turkey. On the remaining slices, arrange the Brie. Place in a hot oven until the Brie begins to melt and the turkey is warmed through. Remove from oven. Place some cranberry-apple relish on the turkey, and finish assembling the sandwich. Enjoy!