Turkey can be made for any holiday. Of course it gets made for Thanksgiving but many families make it for Christmas too. Last year I made it for New Years.
Brining a turkey is my preferred method. Don't get me wrong, I have been known for throwing a bird in the oven with little effort and the family loves it just the same, but if you are going for the gold medal, this is it in my family.
Brining a bird takes time. You need to have it defrosted one day earlier than you normally would. Making the brine takes about ten minutes. If you have a very small bird, you can get away with using the largest stock pot you can find. We did that the first year we brined. But if you are feeding a crowd, you need a larger container. I have heard of people using coolers but then you get into an issue of constantly worrying about the bird remaining cold. You still have to keep it refrigerated or the equivalent during the brining. I bought a plastic container from Smart & Final a couple years ago. They are not expensive. You could also double or triple up plastic bags and place in a bowl in case it leaks. The first year I heard about brining, it was from a girlfriend who placed hers in a trash bag. I guess anything works.
First thing first! Make the Brine!
4 cups of POM juice
1 bottle white wine
16 cups of water
1 cup of Kosher salt
1 Onion sliced
1 orange quartered
1 head of garlic cut in half
2 TB Peppercorns, smashed
a hand full of rosemary
a hand full of sage
4 ribs of celery
1 onion quartered
neck from the turkey and the gizzards
1/2 box of Turkey or Chicken Stock
Heat half the water (about 4 cups) up and dissolve the salt completely. Add the other half of the water (I like to add it as ice but whatever you want will work fine) POM, wine.
Mixture should not be warm now in any way. If it is, then walk away until it is cooled enough to put the turkey in it. (Warm water would start the process of cooking and somebody would end up sick.) Mix the remaining ingredients in the liquid and add turkey. REFRIGERATE FOR 24 HOURS at the most of the night before.
I buy this container of herbs. I just toss the whole thing in.
Put the turkey in breast side down. You want the breast to get as much brine as possible.
When you are ready to cook, pull the bird out of the liquid and place onto a stack of paper towels.
Pat the entire bird dry. I will let it sit on my kitchen counter for up to 30 minutes. You really want it dry so you don't steam the bird.
Lets prepare the roasting pan! Place 4 ribs of celery, 4 carrots, 1 onion quartered, neck from the turkey and the gizzards on the bottom of your roasting pan. Pour 1/2 container of Turkey or Chicken Stock right over the vegetables.The vegetables and the drippings of the turkey will flavor the turkey stock making the most amazing liquid that you will thicken into gravy after the turkey is cooked!
Place the turkey in your roasting pan. Oil the outside of the bird with some oil. I am using olive oil but canola or vegetable would be fine. I used to use butter but I have found you get crisper skin if you don't. If you like using butter, then have at it! Salt and pepper the bird. Most birds come with the legs already trussed. If yours are not, take some kitchen twine and tie the legs together. I like to stuff the bird with the same herbs that was in the brine and an orange cut up. But frankly you could not stuff it with anything.
Roast 350 degrees for 15 minutes per pound. I like to baste the bird every hour. The ladies in my family would do it every 30 minutes and I find that it cools the oven down too much and lengthens the cooking time. Once per hour is perfect.If your bird is small and you only baste it once, don't freak! Its perfect. If you notice that the skin is getting too dark, tent some foil over it. We like the skin dark and crispy.I will have to fight the family away once I get the bird out. Everyone wants to grab skin. Vultures!!
Once your timer goes off and it should be done, take your meat thermometer and check the bird. I like the breast to say 160 and the thighs to say 175. Make sure that the thermometer does not tough a bone. If you are braver than me and check the meat at a lesser amount, great for you! I am afraid of undercooked turkey. These are the numbers I go by! I managed to get a bird with the pop up timer. This is really handy!
Place your bird either on your serving dish or the cutting board. I, personally toss the bird on the cutting board. Let it rest for 15 minutes. This means, DO NOT CUT IT YET!!
WHITE WINE GRAVY
1 cup of white wine
3 TB butter
3 TB Wonder Flour
1/2 box Turkey or Chicken Stock
This 15 minutes is perfect for making the gravy. Take your turkey roasting pan (If you are using an electric roasting pan that is fine, keep using the electric roasting pan) and put it onto the stove. You might as well make the gravy right in the same pan. Less clean up. Strain all the veggies and the turkey neck and giblets out of the pan. Keep the liquid. I like to put it all in a giant measuring bowl.
Take a spoon and skim off the fat on the top. You can toss all that fat. Over Medium high heat, take your empty roasting pan, and deglaze (which is a fancy word for removing the bits off the bottom of the pan) the pan with 1 cup of dry white wine. Make sure this is something you would enjoy drinking. If you do not drink wine, grab a bottle of Turning Leaf Pino Griggio. Its not too pricey and will work nicely.Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen anything that stuck to it. I like to focus on the sides. This will take maybe 30 seconds. Now add all the liquids you placed in the measuring bowl from the roasting pan. Bring it back up to heat. While it is heating, take 3 TB butter (room temperature) and mix with 3 TB Wonder Flour. It will make a paste.Take that and put into the roasting pan. The liquid in the pan will melt the butter. Keep stirring. Remember that 1/2 box of Turkey or Chicken Stock you used in the bottom of the turkey pan? Have it handy. As the butter melts and the mixture thickens you will need to add the turkey stock. Lower the heat to low. It happens pretty fast and before you know it, you are adding the stock. Keep whisking it. It should be the perfect consistency. Taste and see if it needs salt and pepper. Mine always needs a tad. Serve!