- Course: Main Course
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Moderate
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- 12 to 14-pound turkey, brined
- 6 to 8 cups stuffing
For the brine:
- 2 cups Kosher salt
- 2 gallons cold water
- Leftover celery and onion trimmings
- Leftover parsley and herb trimmings
- 12 peppercorns, crushed
- 2 allspice berries, crushed
For making the stock:
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 parsley sprigs
For roasting the turkey:
- Vegetable oil, for basting the bird
- 2 celery ribs, cut in half
- 1 medium carrot, washed and cut lengthwise
- 1 ½ onions, peeled and halved
For the gravy:
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly milled pepper
Overnight brining method: In a large stockpot, dissolve the salt in the water, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients and set aside. Remove the giblets from the turkey and reserve. Wash the turkey in the brine, cover with waxed paper and refrigerate overnight or for 8 to 12 hours, turning over once.
At holiday time, refrigerator space is at a preimium. If you do not have room in your refrigerator to brine the turkey overnight, proceed using the method that follows.
4-hour brining method: Prepare the brine with an additional cup of salt. Line a picnic cooler with a white plasic trash bag. Set the turkey inside the bag and pour the brine over the bird. Tie the bag closed, add a few frozen gel packs, and fill the cooler with more ice before closing. Place the cooler in a basement or garage where the temperature is in the 40s or below. Remove the bird from the brine after 4 hours.
Wash, and dry the turkey thoroughly. Remove the wing tips, and chop the gizzard and heart.
In a small saucepan, combine the wing tips, neck, gizzard, and hear, along with the vegetables for the stock. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, skim, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 1 ½ hours. or until the neck and bones have fallen apart. Add water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered with liquid. When the stock is cooked, strain., discarding the solids. There will be about 2 cups of stock.
Meanwhile, stuff and truss the turkey.
Preheat oven to 450° F. Coat the bird with oil and place on a rack in a roasting pan and surround it with the roasting vegetables. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 325°. After the first 30 minutes, baste the bird every 15 to 20 minutes with the pan drippings and cover with a large sheet to foil when you begin basting.
Cook for 15 to 20 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 180° F., or until the juices run clear after piercing the leg joint with a kitchen fork. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes to brown the bird.
Remove the bird from the oven and let rest while you prepare the pan gravy. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan over moderate heat. Blend in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add 2 cups of strained stock and cook, whisking constantly until the gravy is smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Strain the gravy into a saucepan and keep warm until ready to serve with the bird.
Rather than preparing an enormous bird, two smaller birds of 12 pounds each are more delicious and you can offer a choice of two stuffings. As time consuming as it is, a well-basted bird will be the tenderest bird.
© Christopher Idone
Nutritional information is based on 12 servings, 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, uses 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to baste the bird, and does not include stuffing. For nutritional information on stuffing, please follow the link above.