Recipe of the Month #2: Chez Panisse’s Turkey and Gravy

To make sure that we have the most flavorful bird possible (or if you are trying to convert someone to they way of the Fire Chicken), we try to brine our turkey for Thanksgiving using this recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 gallons cold water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, or 4 tablespoons dried
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 5 whole allspice berries, crushed
  • 4 juniper berries, smashed

INSTRUCTIONS:

 

  1. Place the water in a large non-reactive pot that can easily hold the liquid and the turkey.
  2. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or two until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  3. Put the turkey into the brine and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  4. If the turkey floats to the top, cover it with plastic wrap and weight it down with a plate and cans to keep it completely submerged in the brine.
  5. Note: You may halve or double the recipe. The important thing is to prepare enough brine to cover the turkey completely.

To roast:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove the bird from the brine and drain well. Pat dry. Put in roasting pan and place in the preheated oven. Start checking the internal temperature after about 1 1/2 hours of roasting time. If the legs begin to overbrown, cover them loosely with foil. Roast until the internal temperature measured in the thigh reaches 165 degrees, about 2-2 3/4 hours, depending on the weight of the bird. 

BRINED TURKEY GRAVY INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Strain the pan drippings from the turkey-roasting pan into a freezer-proof container. Cool the drippings then freeze them so the fat will rise to the top and harden.
  2. Meanwhile, combine equal amounts of unsalted butter and flour (about 1/4 cup of each). Cook this roux over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to look grainy, about 3-4 minutes Heat about 3 1/2-4 cups of turkey stock or chicken broth in a saucepot. Whisk in a bit of the roux and bring to a simmer to thicken. Add more roux, whisking, until the gravy thickens as desired. (You may not need all the roux; any leftover can be refrigerated or frozen for later.)
  3. Remove the pan drippings from the freezer and discard the hardened fat off the top. Add the drippings to the gravy, a tablespoon at a time, to balance the seasonings Note: Pan juices from a brined bird may be saltier than from an unbrined one, so you may not want to use all of them.
  4. Add herbs, wine or pepper to taste, as desired.
  5. When moving to a serving container, pour through a strainer to get rid of any lumps of roux that can develop.

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