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Recipes

Mala's 'Masterful Turkey' Recipe

Embark on a culinary adventure that merges the brilliance of two renowned culinary maestros, resulting in a turkey recipe that I have perfected over the years as my Thanksgiving centerpiece. Drawing inspiration from the wisdom of Martha Stewart's impeccable brining technique and Tom Colicchio's mastery in roasting, my method amalgamates the best of both worlds to yield a bird that is nothing short of extraordinary. Adorning the turkey solely with a symphony of fresh herbs, citrus, and root vegetables, prepare to tantalize your taste buds and elevate your holiday feast with this gastronomic masterpiece that deserves a place of honor in every household's culinary repertoire.

First, make sure to get the very best bird: the Ludlow Farms heritage turkey from Mecox Dairy. Also, the turkey stays hot for hours. So do it ahead of time and open up that oven real estate for your other favorite Thanksgiving dishes! 

 

1. Brining the Turkey

 

Ingredients (or hit the easy button and grab pre-packaged brine, like the one from Williams Sonoma)

  • 7 quarts (28 cups) water
  • 1 ½ cups kosher salt
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver reserved for stuffing
  • 1 bottle dry Riesling
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme

Directions

  1. Simmer water, salt, and spices:
    Bring 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool 5 minutes.
  2. Line container with bag and place turkey inside:
    Line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Place turkey in bag.
  3. Add salt mixture and other ingredients; refrigerate:
    Add salt mixture, remaining 6 quarts (24 cups) water, and the other ingredients. Tie bag; if turkey is not submerged, weight it with a plate. Refrigerate 24 hours, flipping turkey once.
2. Roasting the Turkey
 

Ingredients

  • GRAVY BASE
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds turkey necks and/or wings
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced peeled carrots
1 cup diced celery
6 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • TURKEY
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, divided
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme plus 15 fresh thyme sprigs
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon plus 5 large fresh tarragon sprigs
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary plus 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage plus 5 fresh sage sprigs
1 14- to 16-pound turkey
4 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 bottle of white wine (as much as you'd like!)

Preparation

  1. FOR GRAVY BASE:
    Step 1
    Melt butter in heavy large deep skillet over high heat. Add turkey necks and/or wings and sauté until deep brown, about 15 minutes. Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until vegetables are deep brown, about 15 minutes. Add 6 cups chicken broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Step 2
    Pour gravy base through strainer set over 4-cup measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract liquid. If necessary, add enough chicken broth to gravy base to measure 4 cups. (Gravy base can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before using.)
  2. FOR TURKEY:
    Step 3
    Mix 1/2 cup butter and all minced herbs in small bowl; season herb butter with salt and pepper. Transfer 2 generous tablespoons to another small bowl and reserve for gravy; let stand at room temperature.
    Step 4
    Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 425°F. Rinse turkey inside and out; pat dry. Starting at neck end, slide hand between skin and breast meat to loosen skin. Rub 4 tablespoons herb butter over breast meat under skin. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Sprinkle main cavity generously with salt and pepper. Place 4 tablespoons plain butter and all fresh herb sprigs in main cavity. Tuck wing tips under. Tie legs together loosely. Rub remaining herb butter over outside of turkey. Sprinkle turkey generously with salt and pepper.  Pour a little white wine over the turkey and in the pan too, which avoids splatters and smoking. (Drink the rest!)
     
    Step 5
    Place turkey in oven and roast 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Roast turkey 30 minutes; pour 1 cup broth over and add 1 tablespoon plain butter to roasting pan. Roast turkey 30 minutes; baste with pan juices, then pour 1 cup broth over and add 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Cover turkey loosely with foil. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting with pan juices and adding 1 cup broth and 1 tablespoon butter to pan every 45 minutes, about 1 hour 45 minutes longer. Transfer turkey to platter; let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).
  3. FOR GRAVY:
    Step 6
    Strain pan juices into bowl; whisk in gravy base. Melt reserved 2 tablespoons herb butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat; add flour and whisk constantly until roux is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Gradually add pan juice-gravy base mixture; increase heat and whisk constantly until gravy thickens, boils, and is smooth. Reduce heat to medium; boil gently until gravy is reduced to 4 1/2 cups, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season gravy with salt and pepper.

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