The brining of the turkey I leave to the men in my family; my job is to roast the bird after brining. This brine recipe is slightly adapted from the New York Times. We make the brine the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Let it chill overnight, then immerse the turkey and let it brine for 48 hours, removing it from the brine on Thanksgiving morning when you rinse and then roast it. The turkey is always moist and flavorful.
Brined and Roasted Turkey
1 (14-16 lb.) turkey
2 gallons water
3/4 c + 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
1/4 c. diced celery
1 large leek, cleaned and chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
1 Tbsp. mixed peppercorns
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
2 dried red chili peppers
1 tsp. fennel seeds
2 star anise
1 tsp. dried thyme
Aromatics for the Turkey
1/2 large onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 large lemon, sliced
1/4 apple or Asian pear
2 fresh bay leaves
handful of fresh herbs – sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
sprinkling of onion powder, garlic powder, sweet paprika
On Monday: Prepare the brine by bringing 1 gallon of the water to a boil. Remove from the heat, add salt and sugar, then stir to dissolve. Add vegetables, herbs, and spices. Stir to mix. Add 1 more gallon of water. Stir to mix. Refrigerate overnight until cold.
On Tuesday: Remove giblets and neck from the turkey cavity and set them aside for stock. Transfer brine to a 21-quart pot, 5-gallon bucket, or other large plastic container. Submerge the turkey in the brine, cavity side up. If necessary add a bit more water to submerge the bird. Cover with a lid. Place in the refrigerator for 48 hours, stirring occasionally.
On Thursday (Thanksgiving morning): Remove turkey from brine, then rinse the turkey. Place it on a rack inside a roasting pan. Let sit at room temperature for at least one hour.
Roasting the Turkey: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Insert the onion, lemon, apple or Asian pear, and the fresh herbs into the turkey cavity. Brush the outside skin with butter, and season with a generous sprinkling of onion powder, garlic powder, and a bit of sweet paprika. Roast for 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and continue cooking for another 2 hours or until the deepest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees using an instant read thermometer.
The porcini mushroom potatoes are a nice variation on the mashed potato theme, delicious along side the Thanksgiving turkey, or steak, or even chicken cutlets. They can also be used as a filling for pierogies, knishes, and savory pies.
Porcini Mushroom Mashed Potatoes
14 medium to large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
9 Tbsp. salted butter, diced and at room temperature
3/4-1 c. milk, warmed
1/4 c. dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tbsp. flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a 6 quart stockpot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add two teaspoons of kosher salt and let boil for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. While the potatoes are boiling you will need to rehydrate the mushrooms. Do this by placing the porcinis in a bowl. Cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let sit 5-10 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Once they are softened drain and chop porcinis. Drain potatoes and let sit for 1 minute, then return potatoes to the stockpot and let them dry on medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the pan. Transfer dried-out potatoes to a mixing bowl. Add softened butter and milk. Beat on low speed for 20 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix again. Add chopped mushrooms and parsley. Mix until they are just incorporated. Serves 8.