Speedy Turkey Dinner (includes Brine and Gravy)

You too can have turkey any weeknight – in a hurry!

(original post)

The Briney Deep:

a thawed 14# organic turkey
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar (omit if you are using juice)
1 gallon water, vegetable stock, white wine or a combination of them
1 Meyer lemon, sliced
1 head of garlic, sliced in half
2 apples, sliced in half, then sliced into 1″ pieces
2 onions, sliced in half, then sliced into 1″ pieces
1 T peppercorns
bunches of fresh herbs: sage, thyme, bay leaves, a little rosemary, marjoram, oregano
1 gallon cold water or half water, half apple juice or apple cider

Bring the water/broth/wine to a simmer with the salt and stir until dissolved. Add herbs, savories and spices, and cold water/juice/cider. The brine should be cold before immersing the turkey, or at least cool. In a XL Zip Lock bag or a brining bag add the turkey and the brine, press out as much air as possible from the bag, place in a large bowl or pot (insurance in case the bag leaks) and refrigerate overnight. Or, brine in the morning and cook the turkey that night.

A few hours before cooking, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Let rest in the refrigerator uncovered on a rack. This allows the skin to crisp up during roasting.

To Roast the Turkey and Root Vegetables:

1 pound carrots, cut into large chunks
1 celeriac or celery root, tough skin cut off with a paring knife, and flesh cut into large chunks
3 onions, cut into wedges
8 oz whole trimmed crimini mushrooms
3 T olive oil
1 tsp granulated garlic

Remove the backbone and tail from the turkey using a sharp knife. Save backbone and tail for stock or turkey bone soup! Turn the turkey over and flatten breastbone by pressing very firmly on the cartilage of the breast. Tuck under wings and tie the legs together.

On a baking sheet arrange large chunks of root vegetables and mushrooms. Place turkey flat upon the vegetables and place in a preheated 450 F oven. Roast for 80-120 minutes, rotating the pan after 40 minutes. Internal temperature of the turkey should be between 165-170 F in the breast and thigh.

Remove turkey from roasting pan and let rest, covered, for 15-20 minutes.

Meantime, remove vegetables from the roasting pan and taste for salt and pepper. Keep warm. Make the gravy (see below).

Carve turkey into serving pieces and serve on a warm platter drizzled with some gravy. Don’t forget to keep the breast and thigh bones for the stock pot!

The Gravy:

1 cup red wine
1 cup water (if needed) or unsalted chicken broth
2 T cornstarch, dissolved in 3 T cold water
dash Port
1 T fresh lemon juice

Pour off drippings from roasting pan into a sauce pan. Pour wine into roasting pan and scrape up all browned bits with a wooden spoon or spatula, pour into sauce pan. If there is not a sufficient quantity of juices to make ~1 1/2 – 2 c sauce, add water or broth. Let juices simmer for 5 minutes, taste for salt and pepper. Add Port and lemon juice, taste to balance the sweet and the acid. While juices are simmering, whisk in half of the cornstarch slurry and test for appropriate thickness (should be like half and half), add more cornstarch if necessary. Let simmer for one minute more then pour into a warmed sauceboat. Strain if desired, but I like a rustic gravy sometimes.


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