I did not take this picture. In fact, I stole it from a tried and true recipe I have used ever since my mother-in-law has allowed me to prepare the turkey for Thanksgiving. Don't get me wrong, she used to be a fairly good cook back in the day when my husband and I were dating. I had made the cut to attend his family's Thanksgiving on our first date (duh). That first Thanksgiving was a show, indeed, and hasn't changed much except for the cooking. I kid you not when I say it consists of 3 meats, 8 starches, 1 can of green beans, little smokies with BBQ & pineapple, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, 5 desserts...... did you see that there is one veggie?
I have really sweet in-laws, but boy howdy, holidays at the farm are an exact replica of Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From the Family". I kid you not. ( For those of you who have never heard of the song, I strongly suggest you listen. It's Texas music at its finest.) Back to the turkey, my mother-in-law is the only woman alive who can overcook a Butterball turkey. The little, plastic nob? It's melted by the time it comes out of the oven. (Just a cooking note, if that little things pops up, your turkey is overdone.)
So, hence the recipe. I have now been granted to cook the turkey for the 3rd year in a row. This is the same one I've done again and again and it's always a hit. Even with farm people. I don't tell them it's organic, of course, and there isn't a plastic knob to warn you that the bird is beyond dead. Oh, no. Just goodness served on her beautiful platter (with snowmen and Christmas trees) and the family farmers kicking back deviled eggs and some champagne punch to wash it down. I'll just have the turkey, my green beans and brussell sprouts, please.
Happy thanksgiving, from the family.
- Brined Turkey
- 1 gallon water
- 2 cups apple cider
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- One 15-pound fresh, organic turkey (giblets and neck reserved)
- 10 roasted garlic cloves (see Note)
- 10 raw garlic cloves
- 1 3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons dried oregano
- 3 chipotles in adobo
- 2 tablespoons annatto paste (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 9 cups chicken or turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- Reserved turkey giblets and neck (liver discarded)
- 3 shallots, coarsely chopped
- 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 10 roasted garlic cloves (see Note)
- 8 black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a very large bowl, stir the water, apple cider, kosher salt and sugar until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Line a stock pot with a large, sturdy doubled plastic bag. Put the turkey in the bag, neck first. Pour in the brine and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Brine the turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the turkey dry and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. In a blender, combine the roasted garlic with the 10 raw garlic cloves, the vegetable oil, orange juice, cider vinegar, kosher salt, lime juice, oregano, chipotles, annatto paste, cumin and allspice. Puree until smooth. Slather the turkey inside and out with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Lift the turkey out of the marinade and set on a rack in a roasting pan. Brush the breast with some of the marinade. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the stock into the bottom of the pan and cover the turkey very loosely with foil. Roast the turkey for 2 hours. Remove the foil and add another 1 1/2 cups of the stock to the pan. Continue roasting for about 2 1/2 hours longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 175°.
- In a large saucepan, heat the canola oil. Add the giblets and neck and cook over moderate heat until browned. Transfer to a plate. Add the shallots, carrots, celery and onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Return the turkey parts to the saucepan. Stir in the roasted garlic and peppercorns, add the remaining 6 cups of stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the stock is reduced to 4 cups, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain the enriched stock into a heatproof bowl and discard the solids.
- Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and remove the rack from the pan. Pour the pan juices into a bowl and skim off the fat, reserving 2 tablespoons. Transfer the reserved fat to a saucepan. Add the butter and flour and cook over high heat, whisking constantly, until golden brown, 2 minutes. Add the enriched stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the gravy is reduced to 3 cups, about 10 minutes.
- Place the roasting pan over one burner on high heat. Add the strained, defatted pan drippings (there should be 1 cup) and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Strain the pan drippings into the gravy and season with salt and pepper; keep warm.
- Carve the turkey and transfer the slices to a platter. Serve with the gravy.
To roast garlic, place 20 unpeeled cloves in a small baking dish and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of canola oil. Cover and roast at 375° for 40 minutes, until tender and caramelized. Let cool, then squeeze the garlic from the skins.
- 1/2-cup annatto seeds
- 1 cup vegetable or olive oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
In a small medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the annatto seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the oil becomes a rich, orange-red color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Strain the annatto oil into the bowl of a food processor or blender, and add the lime juice, oregano, garlic, salt and cumin. Process the mixture on high to form a smooth paste. Pour into a glass jar and keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.