Thanksgiving Turkey

I am not going to lie to you... I make the best Thanksgiving Turkey ever! But, in the spirit of honesty, I must say that it is a combination of two recipes that I have picked up from the Food Network.  The brine recipe is actually from Good Eats with Alton Brown , and the roasted turkey portion is from Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis.

If you have never brined a Turkey before this is the year to try it out. It is super easy and it makes a whole lotta difference. I can't even describe the juiciness that this brings to the turkey (and roasted turkey doesn't usually spark memories of juicy - now does it?). People will wonder what your magic trick is - and how you managed such an amazingly juicy turkey.

This recipe from Giada is AWESOME! I know the show says Everyday Italian, but this isn't an italian turkey. I have actually been told that this turkey is magazine worthy because it comes out so beautiful...not to mention the smell ---- ahhhhh,, the smell filling your home.

The Brine:
1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water  

About 2-3 days before: 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.

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.

To Roast:
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 onion, cut into wedges
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
6 fresh sage sprigs
6 fresh oregano sprigs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth (approximate amount)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

To make the turkey: Position the rack in the lowest third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a rack set inside a large roasting pan. Place the orange and lemon wedges, onion, and 2 sprigs of each fresh herb in the main turkey cavity. Tie the legs together to hold the shape of the turkey. Stir 2 tablespoons of butter, the herbes de Provence, oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of each the salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the butter melts. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey and between the turkey breast meat and skin. Place the turkey neck and giblets in roasting pan. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before roasting.)

Cover the turkey breast with foil. Roast for 20 minutes. Pour 3 cups of broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs to the pan. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the foil from the turkey; pour 1 more cup of broth into the pan. Continue roasting the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F to 175 degrees F or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer. Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes while preparing the gravy.

To make the gravy: Strain the turkey pan juices from the roasting pan through a sieve and into a 4-cup glass measuring cup; discard the solids. Spoon off the fat from atop the pan juices. Add enough chicken broth, about 1 to 2 cups, to the pan juices to measure 4 cups total. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth. Simmer until the gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the turkey with the gravy.

Note: Don't disappoint yourself and everyone else by cooking your turkey to death. It really does not have to cook for 8 hours! In fact, I cooked a 25 pound turkey in about 4 1/2 hours, and it was perfect. Just trust in your handy dandy meat thermometer.