The most iconic holiday food in North America.
The fatted calf of feasts.
The cornerstone of the Thanksgiving feast…
…And I volunteered to make it!
Not having any prior experience cooking a turkey, besides seeing my mother slave over it multiple times a year, and my father carve it, I decided it was time to become a grown up — time to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey!
My “Life Group” (a fantastic group of people that meets together weekly to laugh, share in each others’ lives, and together learn more about God) was having our very own Thanksgiving gathering and I agreed to bring the turkey.
Silly me, I had no idea you had to thaw the turkey for days before. I had no idea what “brine” meant. I had no idea how big a turkey to get! But thanks to the wise counsel of my dear friends Dorothy, Kadian, Katie… and Alton Brown, I was very proud to produce a successful Thanksgiving turkey!
Thanks also to my Mom who thanklessly invested hours to produce it year after year!
After much searching in the interwebs I went with Alton Brown’s method of preparing the turkey. Ok, I didn’t really follow his recipe, but I used it as a guideline:
- 1 (15 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics:
- 1 red apple, sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup water
- Canola oil
2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
Early on the day or 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 for 15 minutes before carving.