What holiday table would be complete without turkey? Howard Bean, MD, shares his favorite recipe, which uses brining to ensure a juicier bird. The recipes below are courtesy of the Viking Cooking School at vikingrange.com. Dr. Bean sees patients at Medical Group of the Carolinas – Carolina Family Physicians.
It's so good, you might find yourself making it other times of the year, too!
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup honey
- 2 gallons cold water
- 1/2 bunch fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
- 3 bay leaves (preferably Turkish)
- 5 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 large oranges, quartered
- 1 (12 to 14-pound) fresh turkey (or thawed frozen turkey)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons poultry seasoning (or spice rub), or to taste
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and cut into eighths
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 large orange, quartered
- 3 bay leaves (preferably Turkish)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 recipe roasted shallot thyme butter, (recipe follows), brought to room temperature
- 2 to 3 cups turkey stock, (recipe follows), or as needed
For the Brine: In a large, non-reactive stock pot, dissolve the salt and honey in 2 gallons of cold water. Add the thyme, bay leaves, garlic, pepper and oranges.
For the Turkey: Remove the neck, giblets and liver from the cavity of the turkey; reserve the neck and giblets (refrigerated) for making giblet gravy; discard the liver. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cool running water.
Submerge the turkey in the brine; cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. Do not brine for longer than 8 hours, or the meat will become too salty.
Note: If your stock pot will not fit in the refrigerator, place the brine and turkey in a specialty brining bag; secure carefully to prevent leakage, and place in the refrigerator.
Remove the turkey from the brine; rinse, then pat dry with paper towels. Trim off the neck skin and excess fat, then place, breast-side up, on a rack set over a pan to catch the juices. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours to allow the skin to dry.
Place the turkey on the counter for 1 hour to bring to room temperature before roasting. Season the inside of the turkey cavity with 1 tablespoon of the poultry seasoning (or spice rub). Stuff the turkey with the onion, celery, orange, bay leaves and thyme. Truss it securely, brush with roasted shallot thyme butter (see recipe below) and sprinkle liberally with the remaining poultry seasoning (or spice rub). Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the bird on its back on a rack in a roasting pan; add turkey stock, about 1/2-inch deep, to the roasting pan. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F, turn the bird on its side and roast 1 hour more, basting with the Roasted Shallot Thyme Butter every 20 to 30 minutes.
Turn the bird on its other side, and repeat the process until the turkey is done, about 1 hour more.
The turkey is done when the legs and thighs move up and down freely or when a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh, which reads about 165° to 175°F. Allow the turkey to stand for 20 minutes, loosely tented with foil, before carving.
Tips and Techniques
- For turkeys larger than 12 pounds, add 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of honey to every gallon of water added.
- Be sure not to hit the bone with the thermometer; this will give an false temperature reading.
Serves 10 to 12
Roasted Shallot Thyme Butter
When roasted, shallots become soft and slightly sweet. In this recipe, the shallots, fresh herbs and Dijon mustard are blended into butter, creating a compound butter than can be stored in the refrigerator for several days - or frozen for several weeks.
- 4 medium shallots, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter, brought to room temperature (8 tablespoons)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the shallots with the oil; place on a baking sheet, and roast until very tender, about 45 minutes. The skins should be charred and crisp. Remove the roasted shallots from the pan, and set aside to cool.
When cool enough to handle, slice the tip (the end opposite the root end) off each shallot, and discard. Gently squeeze out the pulp, and coarsely chop.
In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the cooled, chopped, roasted shallots; add the Dijon, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper, and continue beating until completely combined.
Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, shape into a log and refrigerate until ready to use.
Variation: Substitute roasted garlic for the roasted shallots.
Makes about 1/2 cup