Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Classic Oven Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy

My classic oven roasted turkey begins with a brine, then is left uncovered in the fridge overnight, is trussed, then stuffed with aromatics, and basted with a turkey or chicken stock or broth that is infused with apple cider throughout the roast.

Classic Oven Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy

It took me a few years to get the Cooking of the Holiday Turkey down, but this method has worked out so well over the years that it is how I have finally settled on doing my holiday birds. I would love to show you step by step pics, and the finished slices, but they are currently being held hostage by my iMac, thanks to me stupidly doing an OS update, that I should have waited on. I promise I'll come back and update with pictures if I can recover them.

It's been par for the course I tell ya, because for some reason I have had technology gremlins that have been haunting me for months. Sporadic internet connections, rebooting computers over and over and over, rebooting the modem multiple times before finally replacing it, lots of buffering and hanging and a crashed external drive that held all my cooking photos for the past 7 years is what I've been dealing with.

My ISP, who I've had for far more years than that, somehow deleted my entire email account "by accident" with an upgrade, and was apparently unable to recover any of it. This past Saturday, I couldn't access my own website. After some time on the phone, I discovered my ISP lost communication with the server that hosts Deep South Dish, giving everybody, including me, a DNS error message, and making my website unavailable to anybody using a wifi connection for virtually a full day - on one of the busiest weekends of the year for my blog. And now this with the "trusty" Mac.

That's life in this world today, though isn't it? Technology is awesome when things are running smooth, but when things go wrong, well it can throw everything out of kilter, especially if you have business related to the internet. Not to mention all the valuable time you waste trying to solve the tech issues, when you should be cooking, taking photos and blogging. I swear, it sure seems that computers were easier when it was all command line DOS driven (and some of you have no idea what that means, which means I really am old)...

Anyway... back to the turkey. I've typed everything I do up in a printable recipe for you, but I'll summarize what I do here. Just scroll down a bit for the printable. Don't get overwhelmed by the length! I just wanted to be very specific about everything because I remember how nervous I was the first time I made the holiday turkey. Follow these instructions and you got this!

The addition of apple cider makes the most fabulous gravy. Don't worry. It's not an apple gravy, but just a bit of a flavor boost making for an amazing tasting turkey gravy. The brine, well, even though their are folks with arguments on both sides, y'all know that I love brining my birds! It adds flavor and it gives a little insurance against over cooking, although I now use a Polder in-oven thermometer and highly, highly recommend getting one.

This is the Polder I use.
I put the turkey in the brine the morning before I want to cook it and let it brine all day. Before I go to bed, I remove it from the brine, lightly rinse off excess salt and then put it in a roasting pan, uncovered, in the fridge, which helps the skin to crisp up during roasting and seems to help the skin color up better. Be sure to clean up your sink and all the surrounding workspace with a good bleach cleaner afterwards.

When I take the turkey out in the morning to roast it, I rub it all over with black pepper and butter, and loosely stuff it with aromatics, truss up the legs, tuck the wings under and place it on a rack over more aromatics, and some turkey or chicken broth and a bit of apple cider in the bottom of the roasting pan. Some brands of turkey, such as Butterball, will leave some skin for you to tuck the legs into, making for an easy trussing.

The Calphalon roaster I purchased years ago - it's a best seller!
I roast the turkey at 425 degrees F for the first 40 minutes, then reduce it to 350 degree F for about 17 minutes per pound after that, keeping an eye on the thermometer (180 degrees F at the thickest part of the thigh) and basting it with the pan juices about every 30 minutes. The 15 pound turkey pictured, took about 4 hours 15 minutes total.

Following this method produces a juicy and very flavorful end result, but also just the added bit of apple cider in the pan with the aromatics makes for the best turkey gravy I have ever made.

Recipe: Classic Oven Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

  • 1 (12 to 15 pound) turkey
For the Brine:
  • 5 gallon bucket with lid, or small cooler and ice
  • 1 gallon filtered water
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock, homemade or packaged
  • 1 cup kosher salt (if you substitute table salt, use about 3/4 cup instead)
  • 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, well packed
  • Sprig fresh sage, stripped, optional
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • Hot pepper flakes, optional
For the Turkey:
  • 3 cups chicken stock or broth, divided
  • 1-1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 instant read or in-oven thermometer (like Polder this is essential!)
  • 3 large carrots, cut into chunks, divided
  • 3 celery ribs, including the leafy tops, cut into chunks, divided
  • 2 large onions, peeled and quartered, divided
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1-2 large sprigs rosemary
  • 1 large sprig sage, optional
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • Cotton twine, well soaked with water, if trussing
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
For the Gravy:
  • Defatted drippings from roasting pan
  • 3 cups of warmed turkey or chicken stock or broth
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  1. You will need several days to thaw the turkey. Place it unopened, breast side up, on a tray in the refrigerator. Factor about 24 hours for every 4 pounds. If not thoroughly thawed when you need it to be, you may finish with a sink thaw to finish the process, changing out the water out about every 30 minutes.
  2. For brining, you will need a pot large enough to fit your turkey and that will fit into your refrigerator, or you may also use a cooler or a 5-gallon, lidded bucket with lots of ice, if your refrigerator is otherwise occupied. Remove turkey neck and giblets and reserve for giblet gravy. Whisk the brine ingredients together in the container, add the turkey and ice, placing ice into gallon zipper storage bags in order not to dilute your brine. Top with cold water if needed, so that the turkey is fully submerged. I brine all day the morning before I want to roast.
  3. Before you go to bed, remove turkey from brine, lightly rinse inside and out to remove excess salt and pat dry all over, inside and out, with paper towels. Set turkey inside a roasting pan or baker, and place uncovered, in the fridge overnight to dry, ensuring that it does not touch the fridge walls, other food or anything else in the fridge. This will help the skin to crisp when roasting. Clean the sink and all around with a bleach cleaner.
  4. Trussing, though not necessary, makes the bird more compact, helps it to keep its shape and cook more evenly, and makes it easier to carve. Even if you simply truss the legs and tuck the wings up underneath, it makes a big difference. Find out more about trussing here.
  5. To roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pour 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of apple cider in the bottom of a roaster with a rack, adding half of the aromatics (carrots, celery, and onion and a sprig of rosemary) under the rack. Put turkey on the rack. Combine half stick of butter with the black pepper and rub all over and in the cavity. Loosely fill cavity with remaining carrot, celery and onion, plus the sliced lemon, smashed garlic cloves and a sprig of either fresh sage or rosemary.
  6. Roast at 425 degrees F oven for 40 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F, and baste turkey with the drippings. Continue roasting for about 17 minutes per pound, basting every 30 minutes, until the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees F. Halfway through add another cup of chicken stock to the pan along with 1/2 cup of apple cider. Once the turkey gets to the desired color, tent with a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, to prevent over-browning and to finish cooking.
  7. For the gravy, remove turkey from oven and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving while you make the gravy. Have at the ready 2 to 3 cups of additional turkey or chicken stock or broth that you have warmed. Carefully pour the pan drippings from the roaster into a grease separator. Spoon off 1/3 cup of the fat from the top and either return it to the roasting pan or a separate skillet to make gravy. If you don't have a grease separator, pour drippings into a large heat proof glass container, when fat rises to top, spoon all of it off, reserving 1/3 cup for the gravy, heating over medium high heat and gradually stirring in 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour. Cook the roux out for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, then slowly begin to incorporate the defatted drippings, cooking and stirring until well blended. Add the warmed turkey or chicken stock as needed to correct consistency to your liking. Taste gravy, then add salt and pepper only if needed, transfer to gravy boat.
About Stuffing: If you are cooking a bird stuffed with dressing rather than the aromatics listed here, do not pack the stuffing in the cavity. Instead, heat the stuffing to warm it, and place it in the cavity of the bird loosely in order to allow room for expansion and for the heat to flow through. Use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness. The stuffing in the deepest, most central part of the stuffing, must reach a temperature of 165 degrees F.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on November 24, 2015
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  1. I am an OLD (read that very experienced) Electrical
    Engineer. I fondly remember DOS, especially 6.2 which almost never crashed and NEVER got hacked or needed security patches. It wasn't fancy, it just worked, every time all the time.
    I made yesterdays Thanksgiving turkey almost step by step from this recipe and it turned out excellent. The one step I missed was the day in the fridge after brining. I was out of town on business and didn't have that much time, The bird spend about 12 hours in the brine and straight into the oven. The result was excellent, a moist tender bird and the gravy was exceptional. Another winner from Deep South Dish, Happy Thanksgiving and keep up the great work

    1. I'm glad that somebody else here remembers!! :) The step in the fridge just helps the skin dry out a bit and makes it a little more crisp, but it's not a necessary step at all. I'm so glad that you tried the turkey my way and thank you so much for taking the time to stop back by and leave a comment. That's always helpful to other readers and it really means a lot to me!! Thank you.

  2. Best turkey I ever made! I did the brine the night before and it came out "fall off the bone" delisous!!! Thank you so much, Love your blogs!


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