Because of CoVID, I had to make a Thanksgiving Turkey for the first time in my life. Since we were a small group, I didn’t want to make a full turkey and eat on it for weeks. I was a little intimated by the notion of making a turkey between basting, the potential of the bird drying out due to the long cook time, and the risks of an undercooked turkey, it was something that always concerned me. Many people would make a Turkey breast, but Anne and I enjoy both dark meat and white meat. We were looking at getting turkey pieces and roast them when we saw a 1/2 turkey at the butcher and figured it might the perfect compromise.
I tried to convince Anne to let me deep fry the turkey. I was picturing slowly lowering the bird into the hot grease while neighbors and friends chant, "Gobbler! Gobbler! Gobbler!" like my beloved bleacher creatures would chant for The Yankees. Anne quashed the idea, something about a risk of fire and hurting myself.
I also though about smoking the turkey out on the grill. Something I'll probably do in the spring when it's a little warmer outside since it takes a while to smoke a turkey then roasting it. So I decided to roast it.
In doing my research I found Cowboy Kent Rollin's Smoked Turkey recipe. Although I wasn't smoking the bird, the brine looked like it would make a flavorful piece of meat. So I used a variation of it. I set it up the night before.
Making The Brine
- 2 gallons water
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 lemons quartered
- 6 garlic cloves mashed
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 3 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon dried mustard seed
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons Better Then Bullion Low Salt Chicken Stock
- Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot.
- Bring to a boil
- Let simmer for 5-10 mins
- Let it cool on the stove for 3 hours. (Or cool it down in the fridge)
Brining The Bird Overnight
- If necessary, defrost the turkey.
- First wash the bird, remove excess skin, and feathers.
- At this point you'd generally add the bird to the brine and put it in the fridge for 12 hours. But I realized I didn't have room in my tiny NYC apartment for the stockpot.
- Since I knew I'd have space issues in the fridge I took a food safe 5 Gallon container I had and cleaned it out.
- I added to turkey to the bucket, poured the brine over it. I added a 5 lb bag of ice to the bucket.
- As long as there's some ice in the bucket, the temperature of the solution is around 33 degrees, Check it every few hours. Top it off with ice if necessary,
- Let the bird sit for in the brine for 12 hours.
Roasting The Turkey
½ turkey (in the brine)
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
- 2 Lb Bag mini potatoes
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- 2 medium onions
- 1 Lb bag baby carrots
- one bunch fresh rosemary
- 3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 cup (125 mL) chicken broth
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) salt
- 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) pepper
- 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) garlic powder
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground sage
- 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) ground rosemary
- ½ tbsp (7.5 mL) ground thyme
- Removed turkey from brine.
- Pat the bird dry with paper towels.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rub both sides of the turkey with olive oil.
- Combine all spices to make a rub. Sprinkle generously onto both sides of the bird.
- Slice your onions roughly into 1-inch rounds.
- Pour chicken broth into roasting pan. Line the bottom with onions, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, unpeeled garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs. Place the bird on top of all the vegetables, cut side down.
- Cook the turkey for 1 ½ - 2 hours until cooked through. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer. Turkey should read an internal temperature of 170°F (77°C) in the breast.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
The turkey came out moist and flavorful. The skin was crispy. Since roasting time is only around 2 hours, it doesn't dry out and doesn't need to be basted, It was a great meal.
- Start the making brine Wednesday morning and let it cool all day this way I;m using less ice to cool things down
- Instead of a dry rub, combine the olive oil and seasonings into a paste and brush on with a BBQ / Pastry brush.
Share and Enjoy!