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My Thanksgiving Turkey

This is how I've made my Thanksgiving Turkey for the last five years.  It's turned out wonderfully everytime.  It's a combination of Emeril Lagasse's recipe for the brine and Giada's recipe for baking.

1.  Thaw
Don't forget to thaw the turkey in the fridge a few days before (I usually forget and end up trying to speed defrost it in the sink, by running cool water over the turkey, changing the water often).  Remove neck, giblets and liver from inside turkey.  Rinse turkey in cold water.

2.  Brine
Find a non-reactive container to brine your turkey overnight in  (such as a clean bucket, or a large stockpot, or clean plastic garbage bag).  I usually brine my turkey in my cooler (very well cleaned before and after brining) and if it's really cold outside, I leave it outside over night.

Combine the following in the container:
2 gallons cold water
1 c. salt
1 c. brown sugar
2 oranges, quartered (sometimes I squeeze them a little, so there is extra juice in the brine)
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary

If you have a big turkey and need more bring than this, use 1/2 c. salt and 1/2 c. brown sugar for every gallon of water.  You want the brine to cover the whole turkey or if it doesn't, turn the turkey at least once while it's brining.

3.  Prep the turkey
Remove turkey from brine.  Rinse with cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels inside and out.  Place turkey breast side down in roasting pan.

Stuff inside of turkey with:
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered,
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, chopped in big pieces
2 sprigs each fresh rosemary, thyme, sage
1 bay leaf

Loosely tie drumsticks together with kitchen string.

Mix together:
2 T. melted butter
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2. tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 T. herbes de provence (or a mixture of thyme, basil and italian seasonings)

Rub all over turkey, inside and outside the skin.

4.  Cook the turkey
Cover the turkey breast with foil. Roast for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Pour 3 cups of broth into the pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the a few more sprigs of each fresh herbs to the pan.   Roast the turkey for 40 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.   Remove the foil from the turkey; pour 1 more cup of broth into the pan. Continue roasting the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F to 175 degrees F or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer.  Baste occasionally with pan juices, about 1 hour and 30 minutes longer.

Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes while preparing the gravy.

5.  Make the gravy
Strain the turkey pan juices through a strainer/colander and discard solids.  Spoon fat from off the top.  Add enough chicken broth to the juices to total 4 cups.

Melt 5 T. butter in saucepan (or roaster if it fits on your stovetop).  Whisk in 1/2 c. flour and cook for one minute.   Gradually whisk in broth.  Simmer until gravy thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.  Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Printable recipe

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