What we really craved was just a fantastic roast turkey—and this recipe from our new Executive Chef Ashley and Executive Sous Chef Amy produced exactly just that. Follow these steps and you’ll have tender legs, juicy white meat, burnished skin, and you have got the single best technique for roasting a bird the 24 carrots way. Whether this is your first or fiftieth turkey, you won’t want to miss this recipe!
Why Brine a Turkey? To keep it moist and yummy! The key Ingredient… is Salt! A soak in a salt solution makes lean meat, like turkey, juicier and more flavorful!! Moisture loss is inevitable when you cook any type of meat, and easily with Turkey. Brining enhances juiciness in several ways. First of all, muscle fibers simply absorb liquid during the brining period. Some of this liquid gets lost during cooking, but since the meat is in a sense more juicy at the start of cooking, it ends up juicier. A mild salt solution can actually dissolve some of the proteins in muscle fibers, turning them from solid to liquid, making them retain more juice through the cooking process. You can make any simple brine solution, with a flavored liquid, a small amount of sugar, and a good amount of salt.
We have one of our favorites here for you, but add to it what you most like, more herbs, lemons and citrus, the sky is the limit, the brine should taste like a lightly sweet sea water, you do want it to have a good amount of salt, this is the key ingredient, besides the turkey. Brining can be 8-16 hours submerged, pat it dry before you roast it, stuff it only with aromatics if you want more flavor and then simply roast it, a 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting.
2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
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 you’d like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon 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 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on roasting rack inside 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 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees 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. By now, your kitchen will likely be crowded with guests hoping to steal a taste of the big bird. Call everyone to the table, say your thanks, and enjoy your perfect roast.
Thank you to Mike Villa Visuals for all of the delicious photos!