Friday, November 20, 2009

Alton Brown's Roast Turkey



A few weeks ago, Kim from Stirring the Pot asked if anyone had ever tried Alton Brown's Roast Turkey. Apparently it had received five stars from over 2000 people. Being curious I had to go check it out, and then I became curious, and then I became obsessed! I had to try that turkey! So my family enjoyed a mini Thanksgiving meal before the actual holiday to satiate my curiosity. We'll call it a warmup meal.

This recipe calls for a brine. I had never brined meat before, in fact, I didn't even know that people brined meat until I had the food network channel! The brine was fairly simple, although we did have to go to a few different stores to find the stuff. We had our turkey in the brine the night before cooking it, and in the oven the next day at three o'clock. We brined our turkey in a medium sized, scrubbed out cooler. It sat out on our patio overnight. Luckily the weather is cool, so the ice was still frozen by the time I pulled it out to roast it.

So, here's my review. I LOOOOOOVED how moist the brine made my turkey. There was very little juice in the pan when I pulled it out of the oven, but when I cut into the turkey breast, juice just spilled out of it. I also really liked the slightly salty flavor the brine gave the turkey, but it also gave a flavor that took away from the traditional turkey flavor. It almost tasted like it had been smoked. I didn't mind it, but it didn't taste quite like Thanksgiving to me. (I know I'm probably being really nit-picky, but hey, these things are important to me!). I also didn't see any purpose to the aromatics that I stuffed in the turkey, couldn't smell it, couldn't taste it. I probably wouldn't do that again, or I would try a different combo of aromatics. So, in a nutshell, I give this four out of five stars. I'm completely sold on the brining technique, but I would probably try a different, maybe simpler brine next time, and I'll skip the aromatics. I'm so glad I tried this recipe though, it opened my eyes to an entirely different way to roast turkey, and hopefully I'll never have a dry turkey again!

Alton Brown's Roast Turkey

Ingredients

1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger (if you live in the east, i found this at acme)
1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil

Directions

2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

30 comments:

Ingrid said...

Thanks for the review! Btw, great photo of the turkey it looks perfect!
~ingrid

Melanie said...

I made this turkey a few years ago for Thanksgiving and it was awesome - I don't think I'm an official convert to brining only because it takes major planning but the results are worth it. Your turkey looks amazing!

A Year on the Grill said...

Magazine quality photo... Glad you ran this pre Thanskgiving. I have a different brine recipe I am going to try, but brining does make a HUGE difference (but only on "normal" birds, not butterballs, that are prebrined).

Barbara Bakes said...

I have never brined a turkey before either. Don't know if I have the confidence to try it this year, but one day soon! It sounds wonderful!

figtree said...

This sounds like a grrrreat bird!

Palidor said...

Wow, I would love that too! That is one beautiful turkey. I could go for that delicious crispy turkey skin right now.

Jenn said...

Oooo...I can't wait for thanksgiving!!! I love Alton Brown. Maybe I'll try this version. Pretty neat idea to put it in a brine first.

Jhonny walker said...

This is clever and super-- thanks for the review, the photograph and the step by step desciption. I have to try this this year. Sounds great..and how lovely you have browned your birdie the way you did..canola oil sounds better over butter too !

Kim said...

Wow- I'm so excited that you made this recipe. I don't know how I happened onto Alton's recipe, but the 2300 + reviews really got my attention! Your turkey looks really amazing!! I'm planning on making this recipe too and need to get a 5 gallon bucket (we don't have a cooler). I wonder what made the turkey slightly smokey? I also wondered about the apple and aromatics stuffed into the cavity. I read that if you leave the cavity empty then the turkey can dry out. I also read that you can stuff the turkey with anything, it just helps hold in moisture?? Not sure about all that, but I'm curious to try it out! Thanks for doing a trial run! I'll be happy if my turkey looks twice as good as yours ;D

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

I love that you tried the recipe before Thanksgiving! It looks so perfectly golden brown! This is a teaser - now I really can't wait for turkey day!

Donna-FFW said...

Thanks for the honest review. I too have found brining locks in moistness.

HoneyB said...

I never knew about brining until the Food Network Tv either! So, I'm curious, what are you serving on Thanksgiving? ;o)

Trish said...

I've read about this too...but how great to have a 'real live and honest' review. Maybe I'll try that sometime then...our thanksgiving is over here in Canada but only five weeks til Christmas!

Barbara said...

I watched Alton do that turkey. Isn't he a hoot?
I have never brined a turkey- think I am going to stick with my old tired and true method. Too scared to try a new way this year!

One of our favorite recipes came from Alton..a roasted edamame salad.

Mom on the Run said...

This is a great review! I had also seen this recipe and was thinking of trying for Christmas. Now with your great review I think I am going to try :)

Erica said...

Ok seriously- that photo looks like PERFECTION! I bet your family was super excited to get a Thanksgiving preview. You are one awesome mama.

biz319 said...

We started to brine our turkey a few years ago and have loved the results. I am going to steal your brine though! :D

the ungourmet said...

What a gorgeous presentation! What time is dinner?!

lalacordle0321 said...

...........................................................................

Sophie said...

What a georgous feast for the eyes! The turkey came out beautifully & I bet it was super tasty!!

Katy ~ said...

Teresa, thank you so much for your review. I've been long curious about brining the turkey. I think I'm a traditionalist when it comes to roasting turkey for the holiday, but this would be fun to try. Your picture is beautiful! Looks like it belongs in a Norman Rockwell painting.

jscardon said...

WOW!! Good for you!! That's so impressive, and makes me really want to suggest this recipe to my mother-in-law this Thanksgiving. On second thought, yea right.:) I'll wait till next year!

Erica said...

hahah- owww being a shorty :) We need to meet up so we can feel normal height together ;)

Joanne said...

I brined for the first time while making a Tyler Florence recipe and was immediately sold. It gave the meat a kind of buttery/succulent flavor. I can't explain but it was just seriously good.

Thanks for the review of this recipe. I trust foodies way more than I ever trust people who comment on the FN website. These people also think that Paula Deen's king ranch casserole is the best thing ever. And I've made it. It's not that great.

burpandslurp said...

OMG. That turkey is perfecT!!! I lol-ed to see the apple in there.

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The Blonde Duck said...

I love AB, and I love turkey!

Derek and Kristen said...

I love brining turkey - it's the best! Don't you just love the Foodnetwork? I've been doing it every year since I learned my new wisdom.

Emaline said...

I am so glad that you tried Alton's out! I have never brined a turkey either . . . I think we are going to try Tyler Florence's recipe . . .it was a bit simpler so hopefully it will still taste like "Thanksgiving!" Have a great Thanksgiving!!!

Helene said...

I've been using this recipe for the last few Thanksgivings but honestly brining it was such a pain in the butt. So this year I bought a natural, organic turkey already brined from Trader Joe's and cooked it the same way Alton Brown recommends (500 degrees for 30 minutes and then 350 after that) and it was wonderful! Still very juicy and it tasted perfect!!

Love the picture of your turkey...it's beautiful!!!!