Thanksgiving Turkey Anne Burrell

“I LOOOOOVE Thanksgiving dinner—so much so that I make the exact same dinner every year. I never, ever branch out and change it up. Why? Because if I’m going to cook it, I’m going to make what I like—my big brined turkey. At my Thanksgiving table the turkey is definitely the superstar—they don’t call it Turkey Day for nothing! This is DEFINITELY a plan-ahead holiday dinner because I do the extend-o brine—I brine my bird for three days. I see these recipes that call for an overnight brining, or a few hours, and I say p-shaw! It takes three days to do the job right and that’s how I do it. Gobble! Gobble!” – Anne Burrell, from Own Your Kitchen

Big Brined Herby Turkey
Recipe from Own Your Kitchen: Recipes to Inspire & Empower by Anne Burrell

Serves 8 to 10
Time: About 4 days, mostly unattended

Mise en Place:
For the brine
3⁄4 cup kosher salt
1⁄3 cup sugar
2 onions, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
2 carrots, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
3 celery ribs, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
1 whole garlic bulb, cut in half equatorially
1⁄2 bunch of fresh rosemary
1⁄2 bunch of fresh sage
2 tablespoons coriander seed
2 tablespoons fennel seed
6 bay leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
One 15-pound fresh turkey, neck and giblets reserved

For the herb butter
1⁄2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄2 bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1⁄2 bunch of fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
Kosher salt

For the gravy
2 onions, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
2 carrots, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
2 celery ribs, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 thyme bundle
3 bay leaves
2 quarts chicken stock
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups dry white wine

TO BRINE THE TURKEY:
In a container large enough to accommodate all the ingredients including the turkey, combine 2 gallons water with the salt, sugar, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, rosemary, sage, coriander seed, fennel seed, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine. Submerge the turkey in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 3 days.

TO PREPARE THE TURKEY FOR ROASTING:
1. The night before you are planning to roast the bird, remove it from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels.

2. In a small bowl, combine the butter, rosemary, sage, and some salt. Taste to make sure it is delicious.

3. Using your fingers, carefully work your way under the skin of the turkey to separate it from the breasts and legs. Massage the herb butter under the skin of the breast and legs, then all over the outside of the bird as well. This will act like suntan lotion to create a lovely crispy brown skin.

4. Tie the turkey’s legs together with butcher’s twine to create that perfect turkey shape. This will also keep the bird nice and compact for even cooking.

5. In the bottom of your roasting pan, for the gravy, combine the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme bundle, and bay leaves. Season with salt.

6. Plunk the turkey on top of the veggies and put in the fridge overnight uncovered. Yes, that’s right . . . UNCOVERED. This allows the skin of the turkey to dry out and creates a gorgeous, brown, crispy skin. Now a bunch of your prep work is out of the way, so all you have to do tomorrow is toss the turkey in the oven!

TO ROAST THE TURKEY:
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Pour 2 cups of the chicken stock into the roasting pan and put the turkey in the screaming hot oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the turkey becomes beautifully browned.

3. Reduce the heat to 350°F. Baste the turkey with the pan juices and rotate the pan every 30 minutes for the remainder of the cooking time. Think 17 minutes per pound . . . you do the math. If the turkey starts to get too brown, tent it loosely with aluminum foil.

4. Remove the turkey from the oven when an instant-read thermometer registers 155°F. when inserted into the thickest part of the turkey (be sure the thermometer is not touching a bone or you’ll get an inaccurate reading). Transfer your beautiful bird to a rimmed baking sheet, cover it loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for at least 30 minutes.

TO MAKE THE GRAVY:
1. Using a mesh strainer, strain the veggies out of the cooking liquid over a large bowl and allow the fat to rise to the top of the cooking liquid. Discard the veggies. Save the roasting pan, but don’t wash it—you still need it.

2. Skim the fat off the surface of the cooking liquid. Place the roasting pan directly on a burner, add the skimmed fat to the pan, and bring it to medium heat.

3. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture until it has the consistency of wet sand. Whisk in the wine and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Add the reserved cooking juices and the remaining chicken stock to the flour mixture. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer (BTB, RTS). Cook until the mixture is the consistency of thick gravy, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed.

5. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.