Citrus Brined Turkey

Brine penetrates into food more deeply than a marinade. Water from the brine enters each meat cell, making the meat juicer while infusing it with flavor. Brining helps keep the meat juicy without giving it a salty taste. It is your extra insurance and, in my opinion, a must to avoid serving a dry holiday turkey. – Chef Stacy Horn

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

2 gallons water

3 cups apple cider

3 oranges

2 cups Surfas Brine Mix*

1 (12 to 14 pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed (reserve for Homemade Turkey Stock)

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence*

1 tablespoon orange zest*

1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

1 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, as needed

1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 large stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Over medium heat, warm apple cider and brine mix in a two gallon stock pot until dissolved. Cut oranges into quarters and add to pot. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes. Pour 2 gallons of cold water into the container to be used for brining. Add apple cider mixture and stir well to combine. Brine should be cooler than room temperature. Continue to chill if needed. Add turkey, turning to remove any air bubbles. Refrigerate and brine for 12 to 14 hours (1 hour per pound of turkey).

Wash the turkey thoroughly inside and out with cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels. Make sure to rinse away all brine to avoid salty gravy. Place the turkey on a large cutting board and trim off any excess fat. Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F and place a rack in the lower third. In a small bowl, stir together butter, Herbs de Provence and orange zest. Gently slide fingers under the breast to loosen the skin and work fingers down to the thigh, being careful not to tear the skin. Spread half of the butter mixture evenly under the skin. Spread the remaining butter evenly on the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Fill turkey cavity loosely with onions, carrots, and celery. Set aside remaining vegetables. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together at the ankles and tuck wing tips under breasts.

Place a heavy roasting rack inside a large roasting pan and lightly oil the rack. Flip turkey breast side down and place on top of rack. Place turkey in oven and roast for 60 minutes. Check roasting pan to make sure pan drippings do not scorch, adding stock or water as needed.

After 60 minutes, remove roasting pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Using turkey lifters or clean kitchen towels, carefully lift turkey off the rack and flip breast side up. Return turkey to rack, breast side up, and baste with pan juices. Scatter remaining onion, carrot, and celery pieces across bottom of roasting pan, stirring to coat with pan juices. Return turkey to oven and continue roasting until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees and 160 degrees in the breast, about 3 hours. If the breast begins to cook too quickly, tent loosely with buttered aluminum foil.

Remove turkey from oven and transfer to a carving board, covered loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Rest turkey for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Strain pan drippings, pressing on solids to remove liquid, and degrease dripping to make gravy.

To serve, remove legs and thighs using a sharp knife. Slice the breasts into ¼-inch slices and place on a serving platter with legs and thighs. Serve immediately.

*available at Surfas Culinary District

Turkey Pan Gravy

Yield: serves 10 to 12

5 to 6 cups chicken or turkey stock

1, 1.5 ounce container of turkey demi glace*

Pan drippings from turkey roasting pan

3/4 cup dry sherry*

2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour*

Melted unsalted butter*, as needed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper*, to taste

While the turkey is resting, carefully pour pan drippings into a fat separator and let stand for a few minutes, until fat rise to the top. Pour drippings into a large measuring cup and add enough stock to the juices to measure 7 cups. Reserve the turkey fat.

Place roasting pan across two burners and heat over medium heat. Measure 2/3 cup of reserved turkey fat and add it to the pan, adding melted butter as need to make up any deference. Sprinkle in the flour, whisk well and cook until raw flour smell is gone, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add the sherry, demi glace and stock mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits clinging to the bottom and sides of the roasting pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking often, until gravy has thickened, about 10 minutes. Strain gravy through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Tips: Some find the drippings from a brined turkey to be too salty for making gravy. If so, you can follow this basic recipe but discard the pan drippings and fat. Instead, use all butter and deglaze the pan with turkey stock and demi glace. Keep your gravy warm while you finish last-minute dinner preparations by pouring your gravy in an insulated container made to hold hot liquids*.

Recipes courtesy of Surfas' Chef Stacy Horn.

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