I had the pleasure of enjoying two Thanksgivings last year. One in the Twin Cities and one in my hometown. The one in the Twin Cities was a large pot luck with many people and LOTS of food. The one in my home town involved me creating the menu and really getting to try some of the traditional dishes with some new flavors at the table…and what turned out to be a lot of food considering the number of people.
The main event – aka – the bird – sang a different tune that year. Adding the sweet and sometimes tart flavor of apple cider to both the brine and the glaze made this turkey one to talk about.
Cider Brined & Glazed Turkey
- 4 quarts apple cider, divided
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
- 1/4 cup whole allspice
- 8 bay leaves
- 4 quarts cold water
- 1 20 lb turkey, thawed (remove neck and gizzard)
Sage Broth Ingredients:
- 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 1/2 onion, quartered
- 1 celery stalk, cut into 4 pieces
- 8 fresh sage leaves
Stuffing Ingredients – Aromatics:
- 2 apples, washed a roughly quarter and chopped, with seeds out
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 3 sage leaves
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup (1 stick ) unsalted butter
- 3 Tbls all purpose flour
- 2 Tbls fresh sage leaves
- 1/4 cup applejack brandy
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
First the Brine:
- Simmer on the stove in a stock pot or sauce pot, 1 quart of apple cider, salt, allspice and bay leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes while continuing to stir. Cool completely.
- In large pot or clean bucket that can hold approx 20 quarts, pour in cooled apple cider mixture. Add to that the remaining 3 quarts apple cider, the 4 quarts water and the turkey. Cover and refrigerate over night or up to 2 days.
- NOTE: If you do not have a fridge large enough to hold the container, you can put this in a garage, as long as the temperatures do not go above 40 degrees. Or place in a cooler and replace the ice every 4-5 hours to keep chilled.
- After the turkey has rested in the brine over night; drain the brine, rinse the turkey and pat dry. Store on several layers of paper towels in the roasting pan in the fridge or a chilled location while making the broth. You will want the turkey to set for about 1 hour before placing in the oven. You can rest the turkey for up to a day, if you would want to eliminate that hour on the big day.
For the Broth – This will be for the gravy and can also be made ahead of time:
- Simmer the chicken broth, onion, celery and fresh sage leaves in a large saucepan for 30 minutes.
- Strain sage broth into bowl and store in covered container until ready to make gravy.
For the Glaze:
- Boil cider in saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes.
- Whisk in butter until fully melted.
- Remove from stove top and cool completely.
Thanksgiving Day Preparation – The Turkey:
- Set the oven rack to the lowest position in oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Remove paper towels from roasting pan and pat main neck cavities of turkey. Loosely stuff cavity with aromatics above.
- Place turkey on pan, with the wings tucked under the turkey and legs tied together loosely.
- Roast turkey one hour and brush with some glaze. Roast approximately another hour until it begins to brown, glaze again and the cover/tent with foil.
- Continue roasting tented in foil until the thickest part of the thigh registers at 175 degrees. Brush with glaze every 30 minutes during this time and adding 1 cup water to the pan if drippings begin to burn. This should take around another 3 hours.
- When thigh temperature is reached, remove turkey from roasting pan and place on platter, tent with foil and let stand 30 minutes before carving.
For the Gravy:
- Pour pan juices into large measuring cup and spoon off fat. Reserve 3 Tbls fat and all of the degreased juices. Place roasting pan on stove top, pour in the pre-made Sage Broth and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits.
- Combine flour, sage leaves and reserved 3 Tbls fat in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat for 1 minute.
- Whisk in broth from roasting pan and reserved pan juices. Add applejack brandy and cream and boil until gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 4-5 minutes.
- Season with salt & pepper; strain into sauce boat and serve with turkey.
- Carve the turkey and call everyone to the table, because it’s time to feast!
Happy Thanksgiving Day Cooking!
**Recipe from Epicurious.com & Bon Appetit/November 2005