Tag Archives: stuffing

Thanksgiving: Herb Brined Roast Turkey

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A brined turkey is one that sits in salted water (with the addition of some herbs and sweeteners in this case) for 12-24 hours before cooking. Brining will not make your turkey taste salty, but will help keep all of those wonderful juices inside the meat, where they belong. Brining does require some advance planning, however. Here is how I approach brining for Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving Turkey Timetable:

  • Tuesday evening: Prepare brine. Cover and let it sit overnight.
  • Wednesday morning: Add turkey to brine; Let it sit in a cool place (below 40F) for 12-24 hours (I usually go with close to 24 hours)
  • Thursday (Thanksgiving!):
    • 4 hours before you plan to serve the meal: Remove turkey from brine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
    • 3 1/2 hours before eating: Prep turkey and put in the oven. Roast until cooked through (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total)
    • 30 minutes before eating: Remove turkey from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.
    • Serving time: Carve and serve turkey.

To Make an Herb-Brined Roast Turkey:

First you need to decide on and prepare your equipment:

  • large stockpot
  • large Ziploc bag (Ziploc Big Bags-Large Size) or 5 gallon food-grade bucket
  • cooler or large bin/bucket
  • ice

**Before beginning the brining process, gather together the needed equipment: a large stockpot (2+ gallons. If you don’t have one this large, you can prepare the first step of the brine, then add the remaining liquid to your brining bag or bucket); large Ziploc bag (Ziploc Big Bags- Large Size) or 5 gallon food-grade bucket; a cooler or very large bin/bucket that will fit the large Ziploc bag or 5-gallon bucket (filled with turkey and brine) plus room to add ice around the outside; ice. You need to maintain a temperature below 40F.

For the Brine: In a large stock pot, combine salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, pepper corns, garlic, fresh herbs and ONE gallon of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 25 minutes. Add remaining 2 quarts water and 2 quarts apple cider (or additional water). Cool brine to room temperature (place pot in a sink full of ice water if you need the brine immediately, or let it sit at room temperature until cool-I leave it overnight).

Place the turkey in the Ziploc bag or bucket breast-side down. Put the bagged turkey in a clean cooler or the bucket in a larger bin/bucket. Pour the brine into the bag or bucket with the turkey. Zip the bag closed, or put the lid on the bucket. Add ice around the outside of the bag or bucket to keep the turkey cold (below 40F). Place the cooler in a cool place (garage or outside). Let the turkey soak in the cold brine for 12-24 hours. (NOTE: If it is cold enough outside, you may not need the ice. If it is too cold, use the garage as your turkey will freeze)

At least 30 minutes before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine. Pat dry (do not rinse).   DSC04259-1

Place a rack (v-shaped rack, preferably)  in a large roasting pan. For easier cleanup, I like to cover my rack with foil and poke holes in it. Place the turkey on the rack. Let turkey rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.DSC04483-1

Rub turkey generously all over (inside and out) with olive oil. Stuff cavity loosely with a peeled onion, whole garlic cloves, fresh herbs, tops of celery stalks (leftover from celery used for stuffing). Arrange turkey, breast side down, on the greased rack, folding back the wings and securing the legs.

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Cook for 60 minutes at 400°F, until the back of the turkey is well browned; turn the turkey breast side up and baste with juices from the bottom of the pan. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and return turkey to the oven.

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Roast for about another 90 minutes (exact time will depend on size of turkey: take out when the breast registers 155°F or the thigh registers 165°F; temperature will continue to rise about another 5 degrees out of the oven).

Transfer the turkey to a platter or baking dish with a small rim (don’t place directly onto a flat cutting board as juices will continue to leach for a little while). Let turkey rest for 30 minutes, uncovered, before carving. This ensures maximum juiciness. And gives you a chance make gravy and to pop those rolls in the oven just before serving dinner.

DSC04550-1RECIPE:

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Herb Brined Roast Turkey

Brine Ingredients:

2 cups kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbs whole black peppercorns
10-12 whole garlic cloves, crushed
4 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh sage
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 gallons water (or 1 1/2 gallons water + 2 qts apple cider)
1 large turkey (15-20 lb), thawed

Equipment **SEE NOTE:
large stockpot
large Ziploc bag (Ziploc Big Bags-Large Size) or 5 gallon food-grade bucket
cooler or large bin/bucket
ice

**EQUIPMENT NOTE: Before beginning the brining process, gather together the needed equipment: a large stockpot (2+ gallons. If you don’t have one this large, you can prepare the first step of the brine, then add the remaining liquid to your brining bag or bucket); large Ziploc bag (Ziploc Big Bags- Large Size) or 5 gallon food-grade bucket; a cooler or very large bin/bucket that will fit the large Ziploc bag or 5-gallon bucket (filled with turkey and brine) plus room to add ice around the outside; ice. You need to maintain a temperature below 40°F.

For the Brine: In a large stock pot, combine the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, pepper corns, garlic, fresh herbs and ONE gallon of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 25 minutes. Add remaining 2 quarts water and 2 quarts apple cider (or additional water). Cool brine to room temperature (place pot in a sink full of ice water if you need the brine immediately, or let it sit at room temperature until cool-I leave it overnight).

Place the turkey in the Ziploc bag or bucket breast-side down. Put the bagged turkey in a clean cooler or the bucket in a larger bin/bucket. Pour the brine into the bag or bucket with the turkey. Zip the bag closed, or put the lid on the bucket. Add ice around the outside of the bag or bucket to keep the turkey cold (below 40°F). Place the cooler in a cool place (garage or outside). Let the turkey soak in the cold brine for 12-24 hours. (NOTE: If it is cold enough outside, you may not need the ice. If it is too cold, use the garage as your turkey will freeze)

At least 30 minutes before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine. Pat dry (do not rinse). Place on a rack in a large roasting pan. Let turkey rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roast as directed below.

Roasting Ingredients:

Brined Turkey from above
Olive oil
1 onion, quartered
1 stalk celery (or unused celery tops from celery used for stuffing), cut into 2-3 pieces
4-6 cloves garlic (whole)
Fresh herbs: any combination of thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano

Preheat oven to 400°F for at least 15-20 minutes. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Place a V-shaped rack in the bottom of your roasting pan (I like to cover this with foil, and poke holes in the foil).

Place the turkey, breast side down, on the rack.

Rub the turkey all over (inside and out, top and bottom) with olive oil. Put the quartered onion, celery, whole garlic cloves and herbs (no need to chop herbs) inside the turkey cavity (I do not ever put stuffing inside my turkey). Pour 2 cups of water in the bottom of the roasting pan.

If the legs of your turkey are not secured with a plastic or metal clip, tie them together with kitchen twine. Fold the wing tips back under the turkey. Roast, breast side down for 60 minutes.

Remove the turkey from the oven and turn it breast side up (you can use clean pot holders that you then throw into the laundry, or a bunch of paper towels). Baste turkey with drippings from the bottom of the pan. If the water level has dropped significantly, add another cup of water.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and roast for about another 90 minutes (exact time will depend on size of turkey: take out when the breast registers 155°F or the thigh registers 165°F; temperature will continue to rise about another 5 degrees out of the oven). Remove turkey from oven.

Transfer the turkey to a platter or baking dish with a small rim (don’t place directly onto a flat cutting board as juices will continue to leach for a little while). Let turkey rest for 30 minutes, uncovered, before carving. Save drippings for turkey gravy.

Turkey Gravy:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups turkey drippings or turkey broth***
salt and white pepper

Melt butter in pan (you can reuse your turkey roasting pan). Stir in flour. Cook, stirring with a whisk, until roux is golden brown. Slowly stir in turkey drippings, whisking constantly (***see note below). Taste; season gravy with salt and white pepper (if you are using the juices from a brined turkey or a canned turkey broth that contains salt, you may not need to add any additional salt).

***Note: Pour juices from the bottom of the turkey roasting pan into a Ziploc bag (you can strain the broth if it has a lot of solids in it). Seal bag and place upright. Let sit for about 10 minutes, until the fat separates and rises to the top of the bag. Over a large bowl or the pan you are using to make gravy, poke a hole in the bottom corner of the Ziploc bag and let the broth pour out. When most of the broth is gone and you are almost at the fat portion, tip bag upwards to stop the flow. Discard unwanted fat.

Thanksgiving Turkey Timetable:

  • Tuesday evening: Prepare brine. Cover and let it sit overnight.
  • Wednesday morning: Add turkey to brine; Let it sit in a cool place (below 40F) for 12-24 hours (I usually go with close to 24 hours)
  • Thursday (Thanksgiving!):
    • 4 hours before you plan to serve the meal: Remove turkey from brine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
    • 3 1/2 hours before eating: Prep turkey and put in the oven. Roast until cooked through (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours total)
    • 30 minutes before eating: Remove turkey from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.
    • Serving time: Carve and serve turkey.

 

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Thanksgiving: Roasted Garlic Stuffing

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When it comes to stuffing, I stand firmly on the “outside of the turkey” argument. I am not a fan of soggy stuffing straight from the bird. Or that you have to overcook your turkey in order to bring the stuffing to a safe temperature.

The problem with this can be: how do you fit everything in the oven that needs to be baked and have it all hot at serving time. Especially when you only have one oven. I am experiencing some serious Dual-Oven-Envy at my house. Especially at holiday times.

Solving the problem of competing oven-needing foods is doable with a little advance preparation. Pies can be cooked the day before. Rolls can be prepared and partially pre-baked (more on this later this week). But what about things that need to be cooked same day?

An appliance that can be used to your advantage here is your Crock Pot. With stuffing, however, I really like the crispy bread edges that you can only get in the oven. So I compromise: early in the day, before I put the turkey in the oven, I bake my stuffing at 400°F for 30 minutes, ensuring perfectly crispy edges. I then transfer the stuffing to my crock pot, set it on the lowest heat possible, and keep it warm in the crock pot while the turkey cooks. If you are not making a huge amount of stuffing, some oval casserole dishes will fit directly into the bottom of a large crock pot. If not, just scoop the stuffing into the crock pot, trying to keep the crisp top edges on the top in the crock pot as well.

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This is a pretty standard bread stuffing recipe, with the addition of roasted garlic and dried cranberries. I love the contrast between the smoky flavor of the roasted garlic and the sweet tang of the cranberries. Need help roasting garlic: click through to How To . . . Roast Garlic. It is pretty simple.

You can also add mushrooms, but I usually leave them out to appease my Mushroom-Hating-Children. Occasionally, however, I will chop them finely in the food processor, and then no one is the wiser.

You can use store-bought bread cubes, or make your own (highly recommended). Cube several different varieties of bread: white, wheat, rye, English muffins, bagels—all those ends that no one wants to eat. Spread in a single layer on large baking pans. If you have the time, and the humidity is not too high, just leave them sitting on the counter for 2-3 days to dry out. Stir them around occasionally. Be careful though: these sandwich ends that no one wanted to eat yesterday become just like candy to little fingers when they are turned into bread cubes. So start with more bread than you think you will need. Also: the bread will shrink as it dries, so start with more fresh bread than the dried cubes called for in the recipe.

If you are short on time, dry them in the oven at a very low heat (200°F max), stirring often. It will take about 1 hour to dry the bread in the oven.

RECIPE:

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Roasted Garlic Stuffing

½ cup butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup sliced or finely chopped mushrooms, optional
1 head of garlic, roasted (about 10 cloves)  <see How To. . . Roast Garlic>
12-13 cups dry bread cubes
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 Tbs fresh sage, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried sage
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp marjoram
1 ½ – 2 cups turkey or chicken broth
1 cup dried cranberries, optional

Sauté onion, celery and mushrooms in butter. Crush roasted garlic cloves and stir into skillet. Pour vegetables over bread cubes in a large bowl. Mix in seasonings. Stir in enough broth to moisten. Stir in cranberries, if desired. Place in a covered casserole dish and bake at 325°F for 1 hour (or 400°F for 30 minutes).

COOKING TIPS: Stuffing can be prepared the day before and refrigerated overnight. If oven room is a problem, cook stuffing early in the day (before you put the turkey in the oven) for 30 minutes at 400°F. Transfer stuffing to a crock-pot and heat on very low heat until serving time.

Yield: this makes a lot! About 15-20 good-sized servings

 

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