Welcome to K&K Thanksgiving Week!
Living in Canada means that I actually celebrated Thanksgiving back in early October. It was my very first time hosting Thanksgiving, and if I do say so myself, it was awesome! I felt like I learned a lot during my research to prepare for Thanksgiving, especially when it came to preparing the turkey. Over the next week, I will share the recipes that I used and tips to help make your Thanksgiving easy and stress-free.
Brined and Roasted Turkey
Maple Cranberry Sauce
Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole
Turkey Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffing
Light Maple Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pie with Whole Grain Crust
First up, TURKEY!! The turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving show, which is why the thought of cooking a turkey scared the bejeezus out of me, until I did some research. What you'll find below, is the result of that research. It was one of the best turkeys that I have ever eaten! It was so moist and flavourful, and definitely worth the effort. This turkey takes some time. It requires you to start the brine 25 hours ahead of when you plan to put the turkey in the oven (for me this meant pouring the brine onto the turkey by 10am the day before Thanksgiving). I would also suggest getting a fresh, not frozen turkey. Frozen turkeys are often already quite salty, so brining frozen turkeys is not recommended. We also didn't stuff our turkey or truss it (ours had some extra skin, visible in the first photo, that allowed us to skip trussing). Make sure you read through the whole recipe before starting!
Brined and Roasted Turkey
7 quarts (28 cups) water
1 1/2 cups coarse salt
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver reserved for stuffing
1 bottle dry Riesling
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch fresh thyme
Note: We made a 12 lb. turkey for 4 people and had plenty of leftovers. The brine was also more than enough. However, the cooking times listed below may vary depending on the size of your bird.
Bring 1 quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Prepare the turkey by removing giblets from the turkey cavity. Rinse the turkey well, inside and outside.
Line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Place turkey in bag. Add salt mixture, remaining 6 quarts (24 cups) water, and the other ingredients. Tie bag; if turkey is not submerged, weight it with a plate. Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping turkey once.
After 24 hours (at minimum 18 hours), remove turkey from the cooler or refrigerator and empty the brine. Rinse the turkey under cold water for several minutes. Then fill the sink with cold water and let the turkey set for 15 minutes. The Pioneer Woman says this is the best way to reduce the saltiness of the turkey and that it is okay to do, because the brine has already done its job. Drain the turkey, then let the turkey sit, covered with paper towels, for 1 hour. This should bring the turkey to room temperature.
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Place the turkey in a roasting pan. If you don't have a roasting pan, you can set 2 carrots and an onion cut in half on the bottom of a pan and set the turkey on top. Put the turkey in the oven and roast for one hour at 400°F. After an hour, without opening the door of the oven, turn the heat down to 300°F. Cook the turkey for another 2 hours.
After two hours, take the temperature with a meat thermometer at the leg (you can also take it at the breast too) every 15 minutes. Continue roasting until the breast and thigh meat both reach 165°F. Let the turkey rest covered with foil for 20 to 30 minutes before carving then serve immediately.
**This turkey would not have been possible without the help of my friends Martha, Michael, and Ree! The turkey brine is from Martha Stewart, the method of cooking is drawn from Michael Smith: Chef at Home and help with controlling saltiness comes from The Pioneer Woman.**