A tale of two turkey recipes: Traditional and gourmet
In many ways, turkey is a bit of a blank slate when it comes to flavor. And that means you pretty much get out of it what you put in it.
We have two recipes here — one more classic and the other kicked up to gourmet.
With the first, we decided to brine our turkey in apple cider, brown sugar, sage and black pepper. The flavor ends up being, at once, subtly sweet, but also boldly savory. And, that is a combination that makes the meat a perfect partner for all the classic Thanksgiving sides.
Cider-Brined Turkey With Sage Dressing
Start to finish: 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours (plus brining)
For the turkey:
12- to 14-pound turkey
1⁄2 gallon apple cider
1⁄2 cup kosher salt
1⁄2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1⁄2 cup minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
For the gravy:
1⁄4 cup white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth
3 tablespoons instant flour, such as Wondra
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To prepare the turkey: Place a 2 1⁄2-gallon zip-close plastic bag upright in a large bowl. Place the turkey in the bowl, then pour in the cider, salt, brown sugar, sage and peppercorns. Seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible as you do so. Massage the bag to mix the ingredients in the liquid. Refrigerate and let brine for a minimum of 8 hours, turning the turkey now and again.
When ready to roast, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Fit a roasting pan with a rack.
Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels, then set it onto the roasting rack. Roast for 2 to 2 1⁄2 hours, or until the temperature of the breast reaches 160 degrees and the thighs reach 170 degrees. If the turkey begins to darken too much, cover it loosely with foil.
Transfer the turkey to a serving platter, wrap with foil, then set a couple of layers of bath towels over it to keep it warm.
To prepare the gravy: Remove the rack from the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan over medium heat on the stovetop (you may need two burners) and bring the juices to a simmer. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the broth into the pan, whisking continuously. Then add the flour and whisk to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes, while continuing to stir. Season with sage, salt and black pepper.
Makes a 12- to 14-pound turkey with gravy.
Here, we combined a potent blend of savory ingredients to add tons of flavor to the turkey, but won't require tons of work. Using a spice grinder, we pulverize a blend of dried porcini mushrooms, thyme, smoked paprika and black pepper to create a delicious dry rub.
But, before we add the dry rub, first we douse the bird with savory, salty soy sauce. This not only helps flavor the bird, but also gives it a wonderful bronze color.
Porcini-Soy Turkey With Shallot-Truffle Gravy
Start to finish: 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours
For the turkey:
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra
3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
4 medium-size carrots, roughly chopped
4 large onions, roughly chopped
1 12- to 14-pound turkey
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
For the gravy:
1⁄2 cup white wine
2 medium-size shallots, chopped
2 cups no-salt turkey stock
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt, to taste
Truffle oil, to taste
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
To prepare the turkey: In a spice grinder, combine the dried porcini, thyme, paprika and black pepper. Grind until finely powdered, then set aside,
In a large roasting pan, arrange the celery, carrots and onions in an even layer. Use paper towels to pat dry the turkey, then set it over the vegetables in the pan. Pour the soy sauce all over the turkey, being sure to coat both sides and pour some into the cavity. Reserve 1⁄4 cup of the porcini seasoning mixture, then rub the remainder all over the turkey.
Turn the turkey so it is breast side down on the vegetables. Roast for 1 1⁄2 hours, then turn the turkey over to be breast side up. Sprinkle the reserved porcini seasoning over the turkey, then return it to the oven and roast for another 30 to 60 minutes, or until the thigh meat reaches 170 degrees and the breast reaches 160 degrees. If the turkey begins to brown more than desired, tent the top with foil.
When the turkey is cooked, transfer it to a serving platter. Cover it with foil and several bath towels to keep it warm.
To prepare the gravy: Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the vegetables from the roasting pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. When the juices in the pan begin to simmer, add the wine and scrape any browned bits up from the bottom of the pan. Add the shallots and cook until tender.
In a small bowl, whisk together the turkey stock and flour until smooth. While whisking continuously, add the flour-stock mixture to the roasting pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper and a bit of truffle oil. Serve the gravy alongside the turkey.
Makes 1 12- to 14-pound turkey with gravy.
Alison Ladman is a contributing writer to the Associated Press.