Roast Turkey with Turkey Stock, Brine, and Gravy

For me, November means all Thanksgiving, all the time. I’m either preparing for Thanksgiving dinner, eating Thanksgiving dinner, or eating leftovers. I don’t even pay attention to the other 30 days. That is why this month on Three Peas in a Pod, we are focusing exclusively on getting you ready for Thanksgiving, including a turkey brine, a beautiful roast turkey with oranges and red onions, a wide array of side dishes including our legendary sausage and celery stuffing, baked duchess potatoes, and cranberry relish. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without dessert and I’ve included a show-stopper. My famous Apple Pie has a juicy, tender apple filling which is infused with calvados. It makes me wonder why Thanksgiving only comes once a year. 

The Turkey Brine that follows is an adaptation of Ree Drummond’s well-loved apple cider brining recipe. I have found that it also works well for a turkey breast or just a simple rotisserie chicken, so I did the math for you and scaled-down the brine recipe in case you have a small entourage for this Thanksgiving Day. This brine just might create the tastiest and most moist turkey that has ever graced your Thanksgiving table!

Roast Turkey with Giblet Juice, Brine, and Gravy

Turkey Brine adapted from Ree Drummond, everything else is my own

Ingredients for Turkey Brine:

  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ¾ cup salt
  • 3 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • Peel of 3 large oranges, cut into large strips

Scaled-down Brine for Turkey Breast:

  • 8 cups water
  • ¾ cup apple cider
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • Scant ¼ cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • Peel from one orange

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once it is at room temperature, allow to chill in the fridge until ready to brine the turkey. Note: It takes a surprisingly long time to cool to room temperature- several hours. 
  • Remove the turkey from its packaging, reserve the neck and giblets for making turkey stock, and wash the turkey thoroughly, inside and out. Place turkey in a brining bag or a large stock pot and pour in the turkey brine. Refrigerate for at least 18 hours and up to 24 hours. 
  • Remove from brine and wash thoroughly to remove excess salt. Discard brine. Bring turkey to room temperature prior to roasting.

Giblet Juice, aka Turkey Stock (used for making gravy)

 Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk celery, halved
  • 1 carrot, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Neck and giblets (excluding liver) reserved from turkey
  • 3 sprigs mixed fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or sage
  • 2 teaspoon tricolor black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours, until liquid has reduced to about 6 cups. Strain liquid through a sieve into a large bowl and refrigerate until needed. 

To Roast the Turkey

Ingredients:

  • 15 lb. turkey
  • 2 navel oranges, quartered
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 1 cup turkey stock or chicken broth
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 8 sprigs of herbs (may include thyme, sage, or rosemary)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chef’s Twine

Directions:

  1. Rinse the turkey well, inside and out, to remove excess salt from the brine. Dry turkey with paper towels and place on a rack set inside a large roasting pan. Stuff turkey cavity with oranges and red onions, throwing any remaining oranges or onions in the bottom of the pan. Pour the turkey stock into the bottom of the pan. 
  2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Tuck the wings under the turkey so they don’t burn and use the chef’s twine to truss the legs together. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 10 minutes per pound. (ex. 15 lb. turkey = 2.5 hours)
  3. Meanwhile, combine the butter with 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and the herbs.
  4. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees, remove the foil, and rub the turkey with the butter mixture. Return to oven and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees, about 1 ½ to 2 hours more, depending on the size of the bird. Tent with tin foil if the bird is browning too much. 
  5. Remove from oven and allow to rest 30 minutes, covered with tin foil, until ready to carve. 

Thyme and Sherry Gravy

Ingredients:

  • Turkey Pan Juices
  • Up to 4 cups of turkey stock
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Set a strainer atop a large bowl and pour pan juices through it. You should have about a cup of liquid. The solids in the strainer can be discarded. Add enough homemade turkey stock (or chicken broth) to make 4 cups of liquid.
  2. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Add flour and whisk 3-4 minutes, until it starts to brown slightly. Add pan juices and turkey stock, along with dry sherry and thyme. Simmer until gravy thickens, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Pour into a pretty gravy boat and get it to the table pronto! It’s time to eat!

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